The Fitness Zone
One of the most common ways to gain employment in the fitness industry is by entering into a sub-contractor agreement with a gym or health club. This mode of employment is where you run your own business, but under a franchise or licensee system. This system is regularly used with the commercial gyms or health clubs as the flexibility for the PT, and alignment of the systems and branding that the facility provides is seen as a ‘win-win’ for both parties.
But, before entering into any agreement it is important to weigh up all the pros and cons to ensure it is the right option for you. So, Jay Divitini, Fitness Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness, WA, has advised five things you should be asking potential employers before signing a sub-contractor agreement:
#1 Ask About Your Contract
When you are offered a position with a gym under a sub-contractor agreement, you will be provided a contract with all of the terms and conditions. This is a legal document so it is really important you take the time to read through each section, and understand all that is required of you. A few key things to look out for (but not limited to) are:
- Length of your contract: As with any contract or gym membership there is usually a fixed term that you are locked in for. Check to see if it is 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, or can you leave at any time?
- Marketing and advertising: Because you are working in someone else’s facility it is important to know how what your options and limitations are regarding marketing yourself both in the club and online. Are you able to put up posters or leave flyers to market your services, or are these limited to social media and word of mouth?
- Requirements: Potential employers may, or may not put in extra requirements, but it pays to look out for extra clauses e.g. how many people you can train at one time, requirements for attendance of professional development days, or open days for the gym.
#2 What Is The Rental System?
The system that is usually implemented in a PT subcontractor model is very similar to renting a house.
- A bond is required prior to working which is used if a payment can’t be made later on (normally two weeks rent). You will receive this back at the end of the agreement provided you have not needed to use this to make up payments.
- A franchise/licensee fee is a once off payment which covers business start-up costs like uniform, business cards, training etc. (this fee varies from gym to gym).
- A weekly payment is then required in order to cover the use of equipment, utility costs and access to members (this also varies from gym to gym).
Now this can sound a little scary, but most facilities do not expect you to pay rent straight away as they understand that it will take time to grow your business. So, gyms often offer a build up phase to paying rent, this could look like;
- Your first month, you rent is FREE, but you may need to work for the gym 10-12 hours a week.
- The second month, you may pay 50% of the rent and may need to work 8-10 hours a week.
- Your Third month, you pay full rent
As a subcontractor, you are running your own business so you do not get paid annual leave, so it is good to ask about rent free periods for holidays, so you can give yourself a break throughout the year.
#3 What Support Will I Receive?
To build your personal training business you are going to need clients. It is important that you know the answers to important questions, such as;
- How many people own memberships to the gym?
- What is the member to PT ratio?
- What is current growth trajectory of the membership base at the facility?
Ask about up skilling and professional development – Some clubs will offer programs where there is internal or external upskilling opportunities. These can range from practical courses (boxing, suspension training, kettlebell) to business or sales training.
#4 Ask About The Other Trainers
There will normally be other personal trainers that are working in the same facility as you, so is is good to know what the gender split is (male v female trainers) as some populations and demographics prefer certain personalities, or certain genders to train with.
It is also good to find out what the other trainers specialise in, i.e. weight loss, strength and conditioning. This is important so you can plan how you can stand out from the other personal trainers? Gender, personality, age, qualifications and type of training all play are a roll in this.
#5 Is it for you?
Once you have asked all of your queries and have all the information, you should be in a better position to make an informed decision. You need to consider your budget, your goals, and your lifestyle. The more questions you ask the more information you are going to get to help you make that decision, so don't be shy to ask!
It is important to make sure whichever employment status or career path that you follow in the fitness industry is right for you!
About Jay Divitini
Jay is a Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness in WA.