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features

Talking point: Instructor pay

With participation in group exercise growing fast, the role of the instructor has never been more important. Is this reflected in their pay, or does the industry need to up its rates? Kath Hudson opens the conversation

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 6
Great instructors can make people fall in love with exercise
Great instructors can make people fall in love with exercise

Driven by boutiques, the role of group exercise is growing in prominence, with many clubs recognising that classes are a great place to build community, engagement and retention.

The high level of skill involved in delivering a large class is being recognised and rewarded handsomely in the higher end of the sector, with some boutiques paying instructors up to £100,000 a year.

A new boutique studio – GRIT BXNG – which is due to open in New York later this summer, has announced it will pay US$1000 an hour to world class, passionate, inspirational trainers who can provide a transformational experience.

The instructor experience director at Les Mills, Jean-ann Marnoch, is delighted that GRIT BXNG has recognised this is a skilful job: “Not everyone has the skill of working to music – 20 per cent fail our courses,” she says. “Instructors are the ones who can make people fall in love with exercise and lead healthier lives, and this should be recognised.”

While the business model of boutiques makes it possible to pay the best instructors high wages, what about public sector operators dealing with crushing budget cuts? And other parts of the industry where margins are tighter? How should clubs approach the pay issue?

We ask the experts.

Jean-ann Marnoch
Les Mills UK: instructor experience director
Jean-ann Marnoch

A Les Mills white paper on instructors has just been released and covers everything to do with instructors, including qualifications, how operators can value them more, how involved they are in operations and, of course, pay – which led to some lively discussion.

Boutique operators absolutely understand how important their instructors are to the member experience and the impact they have on retention, and so are happy to pay them well – £100,000 a year in some cases. Conversely, many of the big chains haven’t increased their rates of pay for many years. It appears that the reason for this is that wages are sometimes set by people who build the budgets and are not aware of the value, or importance, of instructors to their members.

Unless this changes, I predict these operators will start to find it difficult to recruit and are in danger of losing the good instructors, along with their loyal following of members.

"Wages are sometimes set by people who build the budgets and are not aware of the value of instructors. Unless this changes, I predict these operators are in danger of losing good instructors, along with their loyal following of members"

One of the reasons Les Mills feels it’s so important to invest in good instructors – both in terms of pay and ongoing training – is that group exercise is such a good place to build retention.

Good instructors are able to create a community in their class, connecting members to each other and themselves, which in turn leads to retention. You can’t build this type of community around a treadmill. Boutiques have recognised this, but many other operators have not.

There are currently two main remuneration models. The boutiques tend to pay a wage and then increase this according to how many people the instructors can draw to their classes, while chains tend to pay a flat rate whether the classes have three or 300 people in them. I don’t think it’s workable to introduce a standardised rate across the industry, because there are so many variables between clubs and their offerings, but I think a good model is to pay more to the best qualified instructors and those with the biggest appeal. Those instructors who aren’t as popular should also be supported to improve their performance: Les Mills offers so much training, as well as a service offering personal feedback for videos.

Good instructors create community – you can’t do that with a treadmill, says Marnoch
Mark Talley
Everyone Active: group fitness manager
Mark Talley

The fitness sector undoubtedly has a reputation for paying less than many other markets, but in reality, rates are broadly comparable with other leisure and hospitality sectors.

The industry has always given a lot of attention to the topic of instructor pay. Operators have previously teamed up with ukactive, CIMSPA and other auditing bodies to review instructor earnings and advise on appropriate remuneration. At Everyone Active we have always been mindful of these types of sector projects when reviewing our remuneration structures.

Everyone Active has made a number of internal policy changes in recent years to establish and promote clear progression pathways for staff, which in turn, lead to opportunities for higher pay. Level 2 instructors are supported to gain Level 3 qualifications and beyond.

The attainment of additional skills provides a wealth of progression opportunities, from personal training and instructing group fitness classes to supervisory and management roles. There’s a natural correlation between this development and an instructor’s capacity to increase their pay.

"Everyone Active’s mission is to make activity accessible for everyone. Our instructor pay reflects market rates and demand for certain skills, while also ensuring consumer costs remain affordable across the organisation"

Pay undeniably plays a part in an instructor’s decision to stay with us. However, in our experience, pay is just one of several variables that affect our ability to attract and retain high quality instructors. There are other components that have a significant impact: just like members, instructors are attracted to an organisation based on the quality of its fitness facilities and overall environment. They also buy in to the values of a business and select their employer based on job satisfaction and professional fulfilment.

Everyone Active’s mission is to make activity accessible for everyone. Our instructor pay reflects market rates and demand for certain skills, while also ensuring consumer costs remain affordable across the organisation.

Operating our community-focused services with a commercial head ensures we’re able to offer wages that compete with private providers, while successfully navigating the changing landscape of local authority leisure provision, which is increasingly characterised by tighter budgets and growing demand for services.

Andy Tee
V1be: co-founder
Andy Tee

Standard market forces are in place, so on the whole I think the industry pays its instructors fairly. However, pay is only one factor in attracting and retaining the best staff: facilities, training, progression opportunities and how they are treated by operators are all strong factors in retaining the best instructors.

In my personal experience, the rise of boutiques has led to an increase in wages, as teaching at a boutique studio often requires many hours of studio-specific training, which a standard aerobics or basic dance-based class might not.

"Were wages to be pushed higher, studios might struggle to pay and it could lead to an increase in virtual classes. On the flip side, it might lead to more people entering the industry as instructors"

By definition, the best instructors are required for the top-end studios, as they drive the delivery of the product and this fact is reflected in the remuneration.

Were wages to be pushed higher, I think studios might struggle to pay and it could lead to an increase in virtual classes. On the flip side, it might lead to more people entering the industry as class instructors, as opposed to the recent surge that we’ve seen in people qualifying as personal trainers.

I do think it’s important for operators to appreciate their instructors: a good instructor is worth their weight in gold; it’s important to treat them as such and never take them for granted.

Colin Waggett
Third Space and Another Space: CEO
Colin Waggett

Market forces determine rates of pay. After a long period of stagnation in the health and fitness industry, there’s been some significant inflation in recent years.

The stagnation was potentially caused by a lack of standards and regulation, leading to a constant influx of newly qualified, inexperienced instructors coming into the market, combined with a lack of care and standards on the part of operators to the underlying quality of what was going on in their studios.

This has changed. More recent pay inflation has been driven at the top end by a demand for higher calibre instructors, allowing the best instructors to command a higher rate of pay, as well as bringing more, and different, people into the instructor world, significantly improving the class experiences on offer.

As a consequence, there are more instructors now with careers, whereas a few years ago there were more instructors delivering classes as a hobby, or on a part-time basis around a day job.

"I’m a believer in meritocracy – we pay top rate for the best people, who are aligned to our ethos and ways of working. This is different from a rallying cry for everyone to be paid more for doing the same thing"

As well as being fairly paid, the best instructors want to be part of a brand they believe in, get a great education, work out of inspiring studio spaces and be able to participate in innovation and class development. High-end clubs and studios generally hire better people, pay them more, give their customers a better experience and charge their customers more. If any link in this chain is broken, something is wrong.

At Third Space and Another Space, we understand our instructors are central to our members’ experience and critical to building relationships. Our mantra for some years has been fewer, better instructors. We want instructors who buy into our brand values and we’re prepared to pay well for that.

Although we place enormous value on the quality of instructors and pay accordingly, we still have a wide range of pay rates, depending on the experience, calibre and ultimately customer draw. I’m a believer in building a meritocracy – we pay top rate for the best people, who are aligned to our ethos and ways of working. This is different from a rallying cry for everyone to be paid more for doing the same thing.

Third Space has a wide range of pay rates depending on customer draw
Have your say on instructor pay

email HCM@leisuremedia.com or contact us on twitter or Instagram @HCMmag

http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/73235_890918.jpg
Group exercise continues to grow in popularity, making great instructors more important than ever before. But are we paying them enough? Experts discuss
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features

Talking point: Instructor pay

With participation in group exercise growing fast, the role of the instructor has never been more important. Is this reflected in their pay, or does the industry need to up its rates? Kath Hudson opens the conversation

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 6
Great instructors can make people fall in love with exercise
Great instructors can make people fall in love with exercise

Driven by boutiques, the role of group exercise is growing in prominence, with many clubs recognising that classes are a great place to build community, engagement and retention.

The high level of skill involved in delivering a large class is being recognised and rewarded handsomely in the higher end of the sector, with some boutiques paying instructors up to £100,000 a year.

A new boutique studio – GRIT BXNG – which is due to open in New York later this summer, has announced it will pay US$1000 an hour to world class, passionate, inspirational trainers who can provide a transformational experience.

The instructor experience director at Les Mills, Jean-ann Marnoch, is delighted that GRIT BXNG has recognised this is a skilful job: “Not everyone has the skill of working to music – 20 per cent fail our courses,” she says. “Instructors are the ones who can make people fall in love with exercise and lead healthier lives, and this should be recognised.”

While the business model of boutiques makes it possible to pay the best instructors high wages, what about public sector operators dealing with crushing budget cuts? And other parts of the industry where margins are tighter? How should clubs approach the pay issue?

We ask the experts.

Jean-ann Marnoch
Les Mills UK: instructor experience director
Jean-ann Marnoch

A Les Mills white paper on instructors has just been released and covers everything to do with instructors, including qualifications, how operators can value them more, how involved they are in operations and, of course, pay – which led to some lively discussion.

Boutique operators absolutely understand how important their instructors are to the member experience and the impact they have on retention, and so are happy to pay them well – £100,000 a year in some cases. Conversely, many of the big chains haven’t increased their rates of pay for many years. It appears that the reason for this is that wages are sometimes set by people who build the budgets and are not aware of the value, or importance, of instructors to their members.

Unless this changes, I predict these operators will start to find it difficult to recruit and are in danger of losing the good instructors, along with their loyal following of members.

"Wages are sometimes set by people who build the budgets and are not aware of the value of instructors. Unless this changes, I predict these operators are in danger of losing good instructors, along with their loyal following of members"

One of the reasons Les Mills feels it’s so important to invest in good instructors – both in terms of pay and ongoing training – is that group exercise is such a good place to build retention.

Good instructors are able to create a community in their class, connecting members to each other and themselves, which in turn leads to retention. You can’t build this type of community around a treadmill. Boutiques have recognised this, but many other operators have not.

There are currently two main remuneration models. The boutiques tend to pay a wage and then increase this according to how many people the instructors can draw to their classes, while chains tend to pay a flat rate whether the classes have three or 300 people in them. I don’t think it’s workable to introduce a standardised rate across the industry, because there are so many variables between clubs and their offerings, but I think a good model is to pay more to the best qualified instructors and those with the biggest appeal. Those instructors who aren’t as popular should also be supported to improve their performance: Les Mills offers so much training, as well as a service offering personal feedback for videos.

Good instructors create community – you can’t do that with a treadmill, says Marnoch
Mark Talley
Everyone Active: group fitness manager
Mark Talley

The fitness sector undoubtedly has a reputation for paying less than many other markets, but in reality, rates are broadly comparable with other leisure and hospitality sectors.

The industry has always given a lot of attention to the topic of instructor pay. Operators have previously teamed up with ukactive, CIMSPA and other auditing bodies to review instructor earnings and advise on appropriate remuneration. At Everyone Active we have always been mindful of these types of sector projects when reviewing our remuneration structures.

Everyone Active has made a number of internal policy changes in recent years to establish and promote clear progression pathways for staff, which in turn, lead to opportunities for higher pay. Level 2 instructors are supported to gain Level 3 qualifications and beyond.

The attainment of additional skills provides a wealth of progression opportunities, from personal training and instructing group fitness classes to supervisory and management roles. There’s a natural correlation between this development and an instructor’s capacity to increase their pay.

"Everyone Active’s mission is to make activity accessible for everyone. Our instructor pay reflects market rates and demand for certain skills, while also ensuring consumer costs remain affordable across the organisation"

Pay undeniably plays a part in an instructor’s decision to stay with us. However, in our experience, pay is just one of several variables that affect our ability to attract and retain high quality instructors. There are other components that have a significant impact: just like members, instructors are attracted to an organisation based on the quality of its fitness facilities and overall environment. They also buy in to the values of a business and select their employer based on job satisfaction and professional fulfilment.

Everyone Active’s mission is to make activity accessible for everyone. Our instructor pay reflects market rates and demand for certain skills, while also ensuring consumer costs remain affordable across the organisation.

Operating our community-focused services with a commercial head ensures we’re able to offer wages that compete with private providers, while successfully navigating the changing landscape of local authority leisure provision, which is increasingly characterised by tighter budgets and growing demand for services.

Andy Tee
V1be: co-founder
Andy Tee

Standard market forces are in place, so on the whole I think the industry pays its instructors fairly. However, pay is only one factor in attracting and retaining the best staff: facilities, training, progression opportunities and how they are treated by operators are all strong factors in retaining the best instructors.

In my personal experience, the rise of boutiques has led to an increase in wages, as teaching at a boutique studio often requires many hours of studio-specific training, which a standard aerobics or basic dance-based class might not.

"Were wages to be pushed higher, studios might struggle to pay and it could lead to an increase in virtual classes. On the flip side, it might lead to more people entering the industry as instructors"

By definition, the best instructors are required for the top-end studios, as they drive the delivery of the product and this fact is reflected in the remuneration.

Were wages to be pushed higher, I think studios might struggle to pay and it could lead to an increase in virtual classes. On the flip side, it might lead to more people entering the industry as class instructors, as opposed to the recent surge that we’ve seen in people qualifying as personal trainers.

I do think it’s important for operators to appreciate their instructors: a good instructor is worth their weight in gold; it’s important to treat them as such and never take them for granted.

Colin Waggett
Third Space and Another Space: CEO
Colin Waggett

Market forces determine rates of pay. After a long period of stagnation in the health and fitness industry, there’s been some significant inflation in recent years.

The stagnation was potentially caused by a lack of standards and regulation, leading to a constant influx of newly qualified, inexperienced instructors coming into the market, combined with a lack of care and standards on the part of operators to the underlying quality of what was going on in their studios.

This has changed. More recent pay inflation has been driven at the top end by a demand for higher calibre instructors, allowing the best instructors to command a higher rate of pay, as well as bringing more, and different, people into the instructor world, significantly improving the class experiences on offer.

As a consequence, there are more instructors now with careers, whereas a few years ago there were more instructors delivering classes as a hobby, or on a part-time basis around a day job.

"I’m a believer in meritocracy – we pay top rate for the best people, who are aligned to our ethos and ways of working. This is different from a rallying cry for everyone to be paid more for doing the same thing"

As well as being fairly paid, the best instructors want to be part of a brand they believe in, get a great education, work out of inspiring studio spaces and be able to participate in innovation and class development. High-end clubs and studios generally hire better people, pay them more, give their customers a better experience and charge their customers more. If any link in this chain is broken, something is wrong.

At Third Space and Another Space, we understand our instructors are central to our members’ experience and critical to building relationships. Our mantra for some years has been fewer, better instructors. We want instructors who buy into our brand values and we’re prepared to pay well for that.

Although we place enormous value on the quality of instructors and pay accordingly, we still have a wide range of pay rates, depending on the experience, calibre and ultimately customer draw. I’m a believer in building a meritocracy – we pay top rate for the best people, who are aligned to our ethos and ways of working. This is different from a rallying cry for everyone to be paid more for doing the same thing.

Third Space has a wide range of pay rates depending on customer draw
Have your say on instructor pay

email HCM@leisuremedia.com or contact us on twitter or Instagram @HCMmag

http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/73235_890918.jpg
Group exercise continues to grow in popularity, making great instructors more important than ever before. But are we paying them enough? Experts discuss
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Opinion
promotion
Member retention is a growing problem for long-established gym chains, who are battling the growing budget and boutique gym market.
Opinion: Are you trying to beat budget gyms at their own game?
Video Gallery
Harlands Group Overview
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An overview of the Harlands Group, the membership management experts. Read more
More videos:
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Company profile: Merrithew™ - Leaders in Mindful Movement™
Merrithew™ enriches the lives of others with responsible exercise modalities and innovative, multidisciplinary fitness offerings ...
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Company profile: EXF Fitness
EXF offer so much more than modular systems and pick and mix installations, they don’t ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions Ltd: Flooring
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Spa software
ResortSuite: Spa software
Audio visual
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Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Management software
GymSales: Management software
Fitness equipment
Shapewatch: Fitness equipment
Exercise equipment
EXF Fitness Equipment: Exercise equipment
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
23-25 Jul 2019
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Diary dates
05-06 Sep 2019
TagusPark, Oeiras, Portugal
Diary dates
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