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Customer Service on Commission

An IHRSA study concluded that personal training was one of the top five profit centers for clubs. Most personal trainers are either full-time employees or independent contractors. Personal trainers who are full-time employees usually receive an initial salary stipend and commission to build their client base through orientations, assessments, and floor time. After the time frame of the initial salary expires, the trainers are typically paid only for sessions completed. The challenge is motivating the personal trainers to spend their free hours reaching your club goals of customer service.


Begin by surveying your personal trainers through monthly goal setting sessions to determine what motivates them. Each trainer will have his or her own motivator to perform beyond the club's expectations. Monthly goal setting sessions keep personal trainers focused on their goals.

The compensation package for trainers should be structured to encourage trainers to attain and surpass their goals. Structure commission paid per session on a slide-scale model where the more sessions completed in a pay period result in a higher commission paid for each session.


Trainers at Union Station Multiplex are required to sell $5,000 in personal training monthly. Attaining $500 to $999 over their goal will earn them 25 percent of an adjusted amount of the additional. As sales increase so do percentages, up to 35 percent for top earners. Additionally, every month the top trainer in sales, most orientations performed, and top conversion from orientations is rewarded with a $20 certificate of their choice.


Informing the personal trainers of his or her career path opportunities encourage increased performance for those that desire growth within the company. For trainers pursuing non-management growth, structure your personal training prices around three levels of personal trainers. Level 1 trainers charge “x” dollars because they are entry-level trainers with limited experience. Completing required training promotes the trainer to Level 2. Completing more required training promotes the trainer to Level 3, where they can charge the maximum rate. For trainers pursuing management, one form of advancement is participating in a Manager-On-Duty Program that compensates the trainer for dealing with the day-to-day operations of the club.

Providing a full benefits package will distinguish a full-time commissioned employee from an independent contractor and will create a club-trainer relationship, as will a program that encourages employees to pursue their career potential by offering “tuition” for activities relevant to their current jobs.

Provide the training and motivation for your commissioned staff so they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.

Scott Lewandowski is the director of health and fitness for the Union Station Multiplex in Chicago and an ACE Faculty Advisory Board Member. He is the 2001 IHRSA/ACE Fitness Director of the Year. He can be reached at

Motivating Commissioned Staff

  • Competitive compensation
  • Incentives
  • Growth
  • Benefits
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