Outperform their Expectations

We are now into our second post in a series about making money in group fitness. In the first post, Better Bottom Line, we discussed some basic economic considerations to be made when deciding where to work and how to maximize your paycheck with basic mathematic principles. In order to increase your overall paycheck, you could (A) Teach more classes (B) Get paid more for each class you teach or (C) A combination of both. We’re going to focus now on (B), specifically how to leverage yourself to confidently ask for a raise.

There is a process you’ll want to follow before you march into the director’s office and demand more money. First, consider the club. Be aware in advance that if you work for a chain club, your supervisor may not have any authority at all to change your rate of pay, since those numbers are determined at the corporate level. If this troubles you, consider moving to a family- or locally-owned shop where you have a stronger voice and managers have authority to make and influence payroll decisions.

Next, consider their business model. Whether you like it or not, you work for a business that must make money in order to keep you employed. For the business to stay viable, they will need to see some proof that you are worth the extra cash before they shell it out. So how do you prove it to them? When you decide to approach your director with your request, make sure you are organized and prepared to show in no uncertain terms how valuable you are. Here are some areas to evalate that will help you determine if you really are in a position to bargain.

1. Have I been a loyal team member and employee of this club for long enough to establish that I am committed?

If you are new to a club or even if you are in the negotiating stages of your employment, they may not be ready to dish out the bucks for you. Unless your repuation proceeds you, and they know in advance that you can draw in new members, you might need to pay your dues for a while before approaching the subject.

2. Do I regularly teach my own classes, arrange for subs in advance, frequently sub for others, and take all necessary steps to get coverage in emergency situations?

Your director wants his/her job to be as easy as possible. If an instructor is regularly calling out, late for their class, or pushing the time limits of finding class coverage, then the director’s stress levels increase accordingly. Thinking about the last six months of your service to this club, answer the following:

  •  Have you personally taught at least 85% of your scheduled classes?
  •  Of the classes for which I needed substitutes that I knew about in advance or could have planned with advance notice, have I notified my director, gotten coverage and approval for my absence at least a week prior each and every time?
  • Of the times where I needed coverage with less than a week of notice, even in emergency situations, did I make an effort to find my own substitute and lessen the burden of my absence to the club?
  • Have you ever missed a class completely or not shown up even though no coverage was obtained?

 You should have answered “YES” to the first three of those and “NO” to that last question. I don’t care if you are the city’s hottest instructor and you pack your classes. If you are not professional about teaching your committed classes then you do not deserve to even be on the schedule, let alone have a raise. If you do take your job seriously, however, and are professional and responsible about covering your classes, then you are in a good position from which to make your request.

3. Do I go above and beyond the call of duty in matters of customer service? Do I assist my students in ways that extend my role as a fitness instructor? Do I perform tasks that help out the club or the members, even if they are not listed in my job duties?

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Be a team player. Offer to help out in all areas that you are able. Jump up and offer to take some of the burden off a fellow employee (your boss if possible). Help her plan the open house or volunteer to be in charge of coordinating the Saturday teaching rotation. If your new member looks lost, show her to the locker room or how to use the treadmill. Straighten up after your class and pick up the items students left behind. Be creative and don’t hold back. Just give freely of yourself. Even if you don’t end up with a monetary reward for your efforts, there is a peace that comes with helping other people.

4. The question that will be of greatest interest to your director is: Do I consistently have high attendance in my classes? Do I have a strong reputation as an excellent instructor? Do students beg for more of me? Are there any examples of exceptional work on my part that warrant an increase in pay?

It is proven that people who get involved in group fitness have a higher chance of staying members of the gym. It’s called retention and make no mistake about your role in the gym’s goal to retain as many members as possible. Grab your notebook so you can check out the sign in sheets to keep track of the numbers for a few weeks. If you regularly have more than the average number of students for your class time, you can use that as leverage in making your request. Do you have to be the highest? Not necessarily. If you can show that you attract a group of individuals that otherwise would not participate in group fitness, or that people who come to your class do not attend other classes, you might have a position. This could be any special population, men, pregnant women, kids, seniors. You still have to have good numbers, but you won’t need to be the resident superstar.

At this point, you are either confident that you can march into the director’s office and make your case for more money, or you’ve made a list of action items that need to be completed before you can make that appointment. Either way start preparing your elevator speech. If you’re still not sure how to approach your boss, stay tuned. In our next installment, we’ll discuss ways to negotiate with management to get what you want.


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