At our studio we do not have a set bonus structure. I don’t believe in one because I want my employees to work hard to be proud of themselves and feel fulfilled, not simply to earn additional money. We sometimes provide bonuses, but they are not solely based on gross receipts. They are also based on trainers taking initiative, being innovative and going beyond the job description.

Occasionally a reward for trainers may be financial (paid days off, etc.); however, I prefer to reward my staff with something more educational, such as sending them to a conference or a course they want to attend. This way the reward is a win-win. My staff has fun learning new tips and tricks to help with designing and implementing workouts, and I get an investment in my business that makes my trainers more educated and marketable.

I gave my latest bonus to Maria, a trainer who took it upon herself to modify our exercise software by including photographs of one of our trainers performing exercises that we often use in our clients’ home routines. She also created accompanying text to complete the job. This software update has made our entire staff’s job much easier, since we don’t have to “modify” the existing pictures anymore. For this accomplishment she was given a scholarship to the IDEA World Fitness Convention.

Brian Richey

Fit 4 Life DC

Washington, DC

We offer trainers a financial incentive for the number of training sessions their clients pay for during pay periods. More importantly, I try to catch trainers doing something right. The truth is that after their basic needs are met, money only goes so far with some people. They may be more motivated by your noticing how well they do their jobs.

This recognition could be a private encounter. “Adam, I just wanted to say thank you for racking the weights. The weight room really looks sharp! This provides the members with an entirely different experience when they come to work out than if the weight room has not been picked up. Thank you!” It could be during a semiprivate encounter, with the intent of complimenting the trainer. “Mary, did you know that your trainer Ross here is developing quite the reputation? I have had three people this week rave to me about him. You are in great hands!” Others might even appreciate a more public forum, such as during a staff meeting: “I want to take a minute to share with you that two members and one salesperson have told me what a great job Sunny is doing. The members raved about how well he listened to them and how much they enjoyed their workouts, and the sales counselor was impressed by his communication skills and follow-up with a prospective member. These types of behaviors will help us to grow our business and enhance our reputation as a staff that cares about members and delivers results. Great work, Sunny!”

The trick is to understand what type of accolade different trainers enjoy and then document every time you “catch” them doing something “right.” If you receive positive feedback, write it down immediately! Do not let these nuggets go. They can reinforce the behavior you want to see and can be even more valuable than money when you convey these compliments back to your staff. Be as specific as possible. Document who told you, when they told you and what they told you, and ask if you can use the feedback as a testimonial to promote the trainer. Use it on websites or in brochures. A genuine testimonial is marketing gold!

You don’t always have to pay someone more money, but you always have to pay them more compliments. Accentuate the positive and that is what they will repeat. They will feel great about their job, they will want to do their job better and they will have an honest sense of self-satisfaction.

Eric Beard, MS

Fitness Director/Master Trainer

Longfellow Sports Club

Natick, Massachusetts

Our trainers are considered to be full-time if they work 28 hours a week. If they hit 28 hours each week, they get a $3 bump on their base rate for all sessions. We believe that rewarding trainers for the higher number of hours that they train increases their motivation to work more! Also, trainers get a bonus on total sales if the team reaches the monthly goal. For example, if the team reaches our monthly revenue goal and the trainers reach their individual goals, then we reward them with a bonus (5% of total trainer sales for the month or the goal set).

Hitting team revenue goals each month is important. Set mini goals that push the trainers to sell larger packages in order to achieve something that is motivating to them, such as money or prizes. For example, the first trainer to sell a given number of training series that are paid in full will win a $100 bonus or a prize such as a heart rate monitor. 

While some owners or personal trainer managers think that their trainers care only about making money, it is not necessarily the only or most important thing they desire; they also want to learn and to feel like they are an important part of the team.

The best way to make trainers believe that you care is to create some type of internal training system in which they are constantly learning and growing their skills as personal trainers. At our club, all of our new trainers go through about 30 hours of in-house education. 
In order to move up a tier to a higher level of trainer, they must take an additional 30 hours of training on advanced exercise programming techniques such as corrective exercise, performance enhancement, working with special populations and, most importantly, developing a niche.

As a manager, I find that helping our staff with their personal and professional development is extremely rewarding. My goal during the first 6–12 months of employment is to help each employee identify passionate strengths and weaknesses. We want to make their passionate strengths more powerful than anyone else’s, as well as help define who they are as trainers and what area of expertise they fall into.

Educational workshops are also a wonderful retention tool for staff. We coordinate quarterly workshops for trainers. I try to host a workshop that is led by another trainer, or I bring in an outside speaker to conduct an educational lecture for the training team. For example, last month one of our trainers who has advanced knowledge on the Body Blade® designed and delivered a 2-hour workshop for the team. Another quarter, I brought in a semiprofessional female boxer to teach the team how to incorporate boxing drills into clients’ sessions.  

Another motivator is to promote a “trainer of the month.” Pick a trainer who exudes the qualities of an all-star trainer and team leader. Recognizing him or her in a team meeting can go a long way! Make sure you are also holding team outings or team-building events. Each summer I try to conduct a special event with my staff. For example, last year we went to a Nationals Baseball game.

Tanya Colucci, MS

Director of Private Training


Washington, DC

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