There is nothing more uncomfortable than asking for more money. This also cuts deep because 90% of group exercise instructors are women, and historically women are less likely to self advocate and ask for raises than male counterparts. This leads to the gender divide on pay and power differences. Terrible cycle, but either way, you deserve a raise!
I worked at my current role for 10 months before asking for a raise and negotiated a 30% pay increase. This is substantial. For every 4 classes I teach now, it is as if I get a bonus 5th class paid to me compared to my old salary. Said another way, I would be teaching 5 classes to get the same pay as teaching 4 now. This helps out not only with class hourly rate but also the training rate. Don’t get me started on the time I wasn’t paid consistently either.
There are really 3 ways to negotiate with your employer; market comps, additional education since your current salary was reviewed (training, qualifications, certifications), and the value you’ve built during your tenure (repeat clients, additional classes, subbing frequently) all which build your business case for a raise. Let’s dive a bit into each.
Education & Training
This is the easiest and most tangible factor you can bring to the table. When I was hired in October 2020, I had a 200 hour yoga certification. Since then I have become GEAR Indoor Cycling Certified and got my 300 Hour yoga training to now be considered a 500 hour certified yoga teacher which came with many additional yoga certifications including yin and restorative yoga. In fact, you can bring me home with you! I have 20 hours of recorded Yoga for Runners available in the shop. This additional training is indisputable value add to my employer that I will not only be a better yoga teacher for students, but I’ve also expanded my skillset and can teach or sub other group fitness classes.
Value Added during Employment
This is where you get specific and use data to support your business case. Has your retention held strong at 90% week over week students? Have you gone from 5 student to averaging 15 per class, a 300% increase? Have you cross-sold any student to attend your other classes or take advantage of other aspects of the gym or studio’s offerings? Think personal trainer, private yoga sessions, juice bar, etc. I cited frequent substitute teaching, which I know is a huge pain point with my gym in particular, as I receive so many last minute requests to sub. They clearly need folks who can accommodate subbing and I was able to use that data point and appeal to that acute pain point they have.
When you’re a group fitness instructor, there is the luxury of seeing what else is available in the market without it seeming to be in poor taste. Group exercise instructors are typically contract workers that work at multiple gyms or studios depending on their schedule. Use this to your advantage! If you have one gym paying you $35 and another is paying $40, negotiate with your lesser paying gym.
There is an element of gyms and studios commanding different price points for instructors, however the cost of hiring your replacement is not appetizing either. There could be an opportunity to meet in the middle with your gym/studio instead. Then both parties win.
Another alternative is checking Glassdoor or interviewing with other studios in town. Even if you don’t want another job, it will give you an idea of what is fair compensation in the market.
How do I even start this pay conversation?
Funny you should ask! I included below the exact email I sent my employer at the YMCA to get a raise. My original rate with them was $27 / hour and now it is $35. A marked increase, if I say so myself. It has other benefits like annual CPR training, community events and it is right next to my house. Even though it isn’t the highest possible rate I could get in Dallas, the other benefits make it worthwhile for me all the same.
Have you had a similar conversation with your supervisor? I would love to hear how you handled the conversation and where you landed!
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