Personal Training in Commercial Gyms: Hell on Earth?

Just wondering what some people who work at the commercial gyms think about their jobs.

Is it as bad as it seems, in terms of having to work with weekend warriors, some people who don’t truly have passion for what theyre doing, and those who just go through the motions?

Is it boring working with non-athletes?

Do you get to do your own thing in terms of how you train clients or is this up to the gym’s procedures?

Do the benefits (free gym membership, less travel between work and gym) make up for the downsides?

To those who have experience please share your thoughts…

I would be interested to hear opinions as well, 'cause I got couple of job offers in comercial gyms…
When I first look at the place, the first thing I noticed was that there was no POWER RACK!!! And a lot of machines…
It would be pretty crazy from me, that in that modern gym, full of machines, I avoid applying them to clients, because one of the reasons they pick that gym was because of them (machines).
So, I am pretty sure that there are two posible solutions: to kicks ass, or to kick your ass!
This depends on gym politics, wheter or not the PT is able to do whatever he wants or not…
I don’t know if I could easily change my aversion to machines so easily…

You get both clients who don’t’ want to work at all, and some that will bust their ass. It is VERY different from working with athletes though. I enjoy working with athletes much more. It’s like anything in life it has some pros and cons. And not having to travel from the work place to work out is one of the huge pros. And you do (atleast at my gym) get to train your clients however you wish.

most people arent motivated, but then again that is part of your job, to get them motivated. people are usually there because they cant get motivated, dont know what they are doing, or just need that extra push. i havent been training very long, but i love it because i love motivating people and helping them acheive goals, athlete or non athlete. if you dont like this kind of stuff, than you will most likely hate the job.
our gym has their guidlines on how they want things run, but i do my own stuff as far as workouts and what not as opposed to the cookie cutter workout for everbody.

I’ve been PT for around 10 years now and 9 of those were in a gym. I’ve been at a studio (2200 sq ft) now for a year and I must say it’s a great change. The deal is, everyone gets personal training as part of their membership. It’s $100 per month with one session per month. We have 120 members and a third of those buy more sessions per month.

Starting in Sept it’s going to be a minimum of one training session per week. So the membership price will be around $300 per month.

When charging this the service has to be tip top and it is expected that they are taken care of. We don’t really concentrate on bodybuilding too much but more along the lines of rehab, in the sense that most people have crap posture, layered syndrome and poor stabilization muscles. We teach them how to move properly and how to be pain and injury free. When people aren’t in pain like they used to be they have no problem dishing out cash to feel good.

When I used to work in the gym setting we’d do their programs up and send them on there way and hope they’d make it. If they didn’t they’d usually get frustrated and quit.

It’s all about the service my friends. If you can provide it, they will pay, whatever the price may be.

I work at a upscale health club in the AM and early afternoon before I head down to my job at the college (track coach and strength coach for 20 teams). It works out well for me because its only 5 blocks away. I do it for extra cash.
The area I work in is a very energetic and younger crowd. Most people I train are very driven. I train anwhere from young buisness men trying to get bigger and stronger, to pre and post netal women to actors, models and actresses. The one thing all my clients have in common is they work hard and are down for whatever I throw at them. I train the majority of them like I train my athletes. The only difference is I use a bit more variety to aviod boredom.
I am free to do whatever I want with my clients. My buddy actually brings in bands, chains and thick bars to use with his clients.
With all that being said personal training is not something I would do as my main job the rest of my life. Working with athletes is my passion and this is much different. Plus, even though the money is good it varies on a month to month basis. Renewals, new clients, etc. It can be stresful and a pain in the ass sometimes. If it wasnt for my base salary from the University I work at I would have already gone nuts.

You have to give your regular clients the same commitment as your athletes, or don’t take on the work. I get pissed off hearing about people who just train regular clients to pay the bills and really commit themselves to their athlete training. They’re all paying for your best, so deliver or pass the work on to someone else. When I first started training, I flat out turned down regular clients because I didn’t want to do it. I train athletes. Over time, my athletic training business and my personal training business has exploded. People appreciate the fact that I commit 100% to them but I’ve always pushed my athletic training, not my personal training. So, it’s turned into a consistent, recurring, stream of income that is referral based (I will never spend time on a gym floor begging for clients) and based on hard work, commitment, discipline, and success.

It’s not fair to a client to be bored with what they are doing or what they are training for. I screen prospective clients carefully (athletes and PT clients) and let them know up front what I can and am prepared to commit. From there, it becomes their decision whether they are willing to commit personally and financially. It’s bad business to do what you aren’t good at or don’t have any passion for. In the long run, you have to stay committed to whatever your personal goals and objectives are. Don’t get distracted by a quick dollar unless you want to have to fight for that quick dollar the rest of your life. If you do 1 month of training bullshit clients and make some money doing that, you better be prepared to make the same commitment every month if you want to make the same money. I’d rather start with the slow stream (very slow in the beginning) of committed, hard working, clients and build up from there.

Just my 2 cents…

With all that said, I still hate working in a commercial gym. Training in a private facility is the way to go, but if you’re going to do that you better know your business up and down. I’m planning on phasing out into a private facility but it takes time and my training system isn’t bulletproof yet (the holidays and competitive season are just hell on my income) so I’m waiting until I finish some current projects to make the move. In the meantime, I’m trying to off-set the lost by offering more short-term PT client training programs during the slow time of my athletic training. But my program is still like Ferrari, I don’t advertise…


I see that you are from northern NJ…If you don’t mind, where is the college you are the strength coach at? I ask because I too, am a strength coach at a college in central/northern NJ…

Stevens Institute of Technology. Yourself?

I hear what you are saying about
screening prospective clients carefully and letting them know up front what I can and am prepared to commit. I have made the mistake of not doing this (only once or twice) this and I learned. Now I only work with clients driven and will understand what it takes to achive their goals. I will not take on anyone I do not feel meet this criteria nor do I take on people I feel I will be bored with.

I’m at Fairleigh Dickinson in Madison…drop me a line if you ever need anything!

Here’s our website

Take care