In one of my latest articles entitled “’Personal’ Trainer or ‘Professional’ Trainer?” there was a comment on the article that posed what I felt to be a good question. The question was this:
Why is a "career trainer" working in someone else's club? If the trainer is professional wouldn't they be owning or managing the "club"? Not someone's employee!!
While the article was addressing a different topic, I felt the question itself was not only good, but the answer could help direct a career trainer in their future. Having been on both sides of the fence, an employee of a health club and a health club owner, I feel there are some distinct benefits to being an employee. My articles are by design written for the career trainer in a health club setting, and our entrepreneur articles are in the very capable hands of Ernie Schramayr. However, let me see if I can shed some light on this topic.
There are three essential things to consider when looking at being a part of ownership/management (employing) verses being employed:

  1. Financial resources: In order to own your own health club, you need to have the financial resources to secure a location, purchase the necessary equipment, secure a good insurance policy and advertise, not to mention all of the other expenses that you will find in getting started. The number-one reason health clubs fail to be successful is they start with too little capital. The more health clubs that go out of business, the larger the black eye becomes for small sole proprietors of health clubs.
  2. Club management skills: I have known some phenomenal personal trainers in my 18 years in the fitness industry. Not all of them possessed the skills it takes to manage a staff, the finances of the facility or the customers they need to help keep the doors open. Some of the trainers that do have the skills may not necessarily want the responsibility of the position.
  3. Division of focus: When you manage or own a health club, you cannot devote your full attention to just training your clients. Many times, my thoughts divert to payroll, employment taxes or rent payments. Not all trainers are in the industry to inundate themselves with anything other than what they love to do: train clients and help people.

For my readers that have an eyebrow lifted to one side, please do not think I am saying that managing a club or owning your own business is not a good thing! I personally loved it. I am simply saying that there is a reason a personal trainer would want to be an employee of a health club, and there is a reason they would not want to manage or own a facility. Being an employee as a career trainer is not a bad thing, if that is your thing!
Mike McDaniel is an authority of leadership, goal-setting disciplines, sales strategies and corporate physical fitness. Mike can be booked for speaking engagements, sales training or consultant at