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Inventive Incentives

Group fitness programming is a critical element of the personality and image of your club, and keeping classes full of sweaty, smiling members is crucial for member retention. Clubs with great classes find that the program is initially instructor-driven or at least supported by key instructors. Employees represent your club, and your business is only as good as your people. In principle, happy, motivated instructors who are busy developing new classes and programs for your group fitness program directly boost member retention and attract new clients.


How do we motivate top players to create and deliver remarkable experiences to your members, and not for your competitors' members? To retain key players we must understand what motivates them towards excellence from the very first meeting, and continue with innovative incentive plans, an open dialogue, and a win-win relationship.

  • Issue a survey to new talent to understand their long-term views and career path.

  • Periodically, write a letter to your instructors, telling them how much you value and appreciate all their hard work and talent.

  • On a day-to-day basis be generous with your accolades — we all need daily love and recognition, and most of us just don't get enough from our superiors.

  • Honor your creative staff and educate your instructors regarding your company's goals, concerns and operations, as well as your needs for new programming and memorable experiences to wow your members.

  • Give them an opportunity to contribute by asking for their creative insight. Your instructors are the front line and know best what your members' need.


    It isn't always about the money, but money is important. If you don't pay your talent well, someone else will. That does not mean that compensation automatically means a raise — motivating staff to produce valuable work means tapping into the many resources available to you. The key to keeping your instructors on board and motivated is your compensation package. Think out of the box in terms of employee incentive packages, from incorporating new benefits and insurance to promotional representation to special privileges.

    Lashaun Dale, M.A., is group fitness manager for Equinox Fitness Clubs, NY, and can be reached at (212) 663-9209 or


    Creative compensation ideas.

  • Paid vacation time, insurance benefits, sick days, etc.
  • Special privileges-help with “sub coverage”, workout benefits
  • Promotional and public recognition and representation in all literature
  • Sponsorship for clothing, transportation, etc.
  • Gift cards for membership/club services for themselves or others.
  • Residual income for all classes added to the schedule.
  • Stipends or creative bonus for creative work.
  • Additional income opportunities through instructor training, etc.
  • Retention of book and video rights, corporate sponsorship for book and video rights.
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