A new investigative report by The New York Times alleges that a job at one of Equinox's high-end health clubs is not glamorous but grueling, with employees being pressured to work unreasonable hours in harsh conditions and often without pay.
The Dec. 5 article, "Working at Equinox: 'It’s Very Hunger Games,'" details allegedly unsavory work conditions at multiple facilities owned by New York-based Equinox Holdings Inc., whose business ranked No. 4 on Club Industry's Top 100 Health Clubs of 2019 list with $1.43 billion in estimated 2018 revenue.
The article claims that, before recent renovations, trainers at Equinox's Greenwich Village club in Manhattan would nap during long shifts on a prison-like, wire-framed bunk bed that was cushioned with workout towels and hidden from view by a shower curtain.
Many equinox trainers are regularly expected to work up to 80 hours per week, many of which are unpaid, the article states. This results in a 50 percent annual turnover rate with the company's trainers.
New trainers are initiated through a process known as "ramping," according to the Times. During this time, they spend as many as 20 hours per week organizing weights in their club's exercise areas while attempting to sell their services to passerby members. New hires either grow a client base through ramping or quit. Trainers are allegedly paid minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage during this time.
“It’s very ‘Hunger Games’-style,”Alexander Miotti, a trainer who formerly worked at one of Equinox's Los Angeles clubs before quitting over a disagreement with his managers, told the Times. “They’re like, ‘We want you to have a really nice work-life balance.’ But at the same time, ‘How do you expect to be successful if you’re not here for 12 hours a day?’”
Joe Matarazzo, vice president of personal training operations for Equinox, told the Times that employees are never encouraged to sleep at the clubs and are not required to log unpaid overtime. Matarazzo said the company strives to teach its employees time management skills and is not satisfied with its trainer turnover rates.
The article references multiple instances of employees being reprimanded for taking time off. An Equinox spokesperson was quoted in the article and disputed at least one of these allegations, stating that it was "not reflective of Equinox policy or our values in any way.”
Click here to read the full Times article.
Club Industry’s latest free, in-depth report, "The Changing World of Personal Training,” includes a feature story about how club operators can help their trainers achieve a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, this topic was discussed in a recent episode of The Club Industry Podcast with guests Michelle Blakely, owner of See Jake and Jane Train; Greg McCoy, owner of [Hidden Gym]; and Dayton McPherson, fitness director and small-group training coordinator at Healthtrax.