June 13, 2017



Tonight, the Berwyn city council will be considering a proposal to "opt out" of the Cook County minimum wage and paid leave ordinance. I have heard all the reasons why it is unfair on businesses in Cook County to face these increased costs when we are already taxed to the eyeballs. I get it. But I do not agree with those seeking to opt out or negotiate a better deal. 


Whenever someone scrunches their nose at the "high prices" at Fit Club, I have to remind them they are getting what they pay for -- time and focused attention from a devoted fitness professional. Our instructors are spending hours outside of class time preparing. We ask our students reserve their workouts in advance so we can see when they are coming and plan accordingly. We know all of our students, their needs, their histories, and their limitations. In fact, we have been known to text, email, and call other coaches out of class hours to let them know of any changes of such.


Most, if not all, of us have completed advanced courses or specialized certifications so that we can keep every single person entering our studio safe. From the expectant mother entering her first pregnancy with a world of questions, to the retiree fresh out of rehab after a total shoulder replacement, we make it a point to have everyone covered.


We love to see you come into the Club and we know that all it takes is a single bad experience at the gym to take you off course. Whether suffering an injury, seeing zero results, or simply feeling inept, we know that students can and will look for all sorts of reasons not to get to the business of getting and staying fit. But because we know the price you will pay if that ever happens to you, we are (at times ruthlessly) committed to inspiring you every step of the way.


This isn't to say that the instructors at the big box gym doesn't feel the same. But the wages in this industry are not terribly high. Add to that the fact that one cannot cobble together 40 hours in most outlets, many instructors and trainers aspiring to do this full-time are forced to shuttle between multiple locations to maximize their earnings. Tired, overworked, and in most cases earning a pittance of what the corporation takes in memberships, it is often these very passionate and inspiring coaches that subsidize bargain or discounted rates. Having been one of those instructors at one point in my career, I can tell you it can zap the passion right out of the entire experience.


I could go on about the studios that didn't compensate me for Groupon holders on the basis that it was "free exposure." I could tell you that after preparing for a class, commuting to a studio 45 minutes away, setting up for 15 minutes, teaching for an hour, then answering questions and breaking down for another 15 minutes after class, before tackling that 45 minute commute back, I earned less than $2/hr at one point. But, I will digress.


I have never tried to compete on price. For me, it is more important that our coaches are paid their fair share. While not quite the path to getting rich, as the owner, I pay our coaches 70% of the class fees. The percentage the Club keeps pays rent, utilities, internet and web expenses, music licensing, merchant fees, cleaning services, so on and so forth. A better business man would laugh at me for giving the house away. But when I opened Fit Club, it was to create a community where everyone is treated with respect and all contributions are valued. That includes our coaches just as much as our members.


At the end of this summer, Fit Club, in partnership with Blissful Owl, will be moving into a larger location and expanding its offerings. I am excited we have achieved the level of growth that requires us to expand. We are literally bursting at the seams. We will continue to look to ways to reward our coaches with the most competitive pay because they are the reason our students keep coming back.


My call for you, dear reader? Next time you suffer sticker shock, consider what has driven you to believe the price to be much lower. Slick marketing, Groupons, corporate chains, or outlets paying the current minimum wage. Who is getting paid? Or not? Maybe that item or service really is worth more than you previously thought. 


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