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Benefits and Discounts for Fitness Industry Workers

While compensation from salary or hourly pay may have decreased in some fitness jobs, benefits and discounts seem to have increased at least for full-time and part-time employees, according to the 2010 IDEA Fitness Industry Compensation Trends Report.

Full-time employees are more likely than part-timers to qualify for benefits and discounts. Personnel may also be compensated for their work by employers offering benefits and enticements such as insurance plans, paid vacations, profit sharing and discounts. Liability insurance is offered to 74% of full-time employees (69% in 2008), while only 42% of part-timers (38% in 2008) and 22% of independent contractors (25% in 2008) receive this benefit.

Full-time employees have much greater opportunities for health insurance (78%), disability insurance (65%) and paid sick leave (73%) compared with part-time employees (17%, 18% and 15%, respectively) and independent contractors (2%, 2% and 1%, respectively). These statistics reflect a dramatic growth in benefits for full-time employees since 2008, when 67% were offered health insurance, 54% were offered disability insurance and 57% had paid sick leave.

Almost half of full-time employees (49%) are offered commissions or incentives, while 35% of part-timers and 24% of independent contractors are afforded this potential income elevation. Employees tend to be offered discounts at a greater rate than independent contractors: 68% of full-timers and 59% of part-timers are eligible for discounts, while only 33% of independent contractors qualify.

Comparing the retirement plans, paid vacation time, free or discounted childcare and profit sharing offered to full-time employees in 2008 with those offered in 2010, we see mixed results. Retirement plans (66% in 2010 vs. 54% in 2008) and paid vacation time (81% vs. 66%) show notable increases, while free or discounted childcare (36% vs. 37%) remains stable. Profit sharing has significantly decreased for full-time employees (10% vs. 24%). However, with few exceptions, full-time employees are enjoying greater benefits and discounts than they did in 2008.

Independent contractors continue to receive the fewest benefits. Kristen Horler, founder and chief executive officer of Baby Boot Camp LLC in Sarasota, Florida, explains: “Our instructors are independent contractors who receive many benefits, including discounts on product and class purchases,” she said. Generally, independent contractors work for more than one organization, and flexibility around their schedule is retained by the independent contractor, Horler says.

“Independent contractors often work at multiple facilities, so the employer-employee relationship is often best served in an independent contractor relationship,” she says. “Additionally, independent contractors do not have taxes withheld from their pay, and an independent contractor can deduct work-related expenses from taxable income on the federal income tax return. For a fitness professional, possible deductions may take the form of music and apparel required to effectively do one’s job. Employees do not have the same tax benefits.”

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