Pay in the Fitness Industry

Pay in The Fitness Industry - A Pretty Place To Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

I don’t think it’ll be a shock to anyone when I say that pay in the fitness industry isn’t the highest. Depending on your source, the average fitness professional is self-employed, working for an hourly rate of (on average) either £10.51 (ONS) or £21 (emdUK). The vast majority of fitness professionals are women, and nearly a quarter of those women work part-time. So if you’re working 20 hours a week and receiving £21 per hour (let’s be ambitious) then you’re likely to be taking home around £420 a week/£1,680 before tax and any costs associated with running your businesses. That’s just over £20k per year before tax/costs. It’s not hugely surprising then that those who are looking to leave the industry cite low pay as a reason, especially when career progression (driven by professional training) is often limited due to cost, which fitness professionals have to foot themselves.

Over the weekend a friend drew my attention to job advert for a social media role at a London gym that paid £60 per month plus unlimited classes. I know it’s not specifically a fitness role, but it is in the fitness industry so I think the observations about the state of the industry apply. Admittedly, this example is at the very far end of the piss-taking spectrum, but it does illustrate how some companies value talent, time and work in an industry where low pay is already an issue.

What was particularly interesting was how the company in question defined their values and the image they wanted to communicate. They talked about clients who built life long friendships, personal transformations, community and celebrating women’s strength and capabilities. The Guilty Feminist and and Beauty Redefined were used as examples. It’s clear this company sees itself, or at least wants to be seen, as a place that champions and supports women. Which makes the low pay offered for this role perplexing.

Pay in the Fitness Industry - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Pay is a feminist issue. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests that in 2016 the average pay of women working full-time was nearly 10% lower than men’s pay. This means that compared to men, women stopped earning on the 10th November 2016, and after this date were effectively working for free. The gender pay gap in part-time work is even greater at just over 18% in 2016. In 2012, 64% of the lowest paid workers were women. Admittedly, the ONS found that female fitness instructors are paid 22.9% more then men, but while this is promising I don’t think that negates the industry’s responsibility to pay fairly, particularly for part-time work. It is also worth noting that, while I am drawing on data from the wider fitness industry (the emdUK drew on data from people working in a rage of roles in the industry), the ONS data only considers the role of fitness instructor. When you look at the gap for marketing associate professionals women are paid 7.5% less than men.

Coupled with this is an issue is access to quality part-time work. This is work where the flexibility is not skewed in the employer’s favour (as is arguably the case in the example above), but work quality work that pays fairly with a balances power dynamic between capital and labour. Flexible working is a feminist issue, and an important social issue and can contribute to closing the gender pay gap. According to Timewise, only 6% of quality jobs are advertised with the opportunity to work flexibly, suggesting that lower value may be attributed to part-time working when no one in leadership is working flexibly. 1.5 million people are in jobs they’re overqualified for because they need flexibility (I’m one of those people), and 1.9 million aren’t meeting their full earning potential - which would most defiantly be the case for whoever takes up this poorly paid social media role.

This is why it’s so awkward that a company that positions itself as being all about lifting women up is advertising a role that is well positioned for a woman who needs flexible work, but is paying unfairly and suggesting an uneven power dynamic. This entirely contradicts the values of feminism. It undermines the work a lot of people are doing to overcome gender pay and work issues, and most importantly it totally undervalues an individual in an environment supposedly built to elevate people.

I really hope that the wage advertised was a typo, although even £60 a week or £600 a month would be a bit low for the work being advertised. I also really hope the company concerned listen to the outpouring on comments on the advert expressing dismay at the pay and take steps to apply the values they say they have to the way they work behind the scenes.

Update: the advert has now been removed from the company’s Facebook page. I have reached out to the company for comment.

Update 16 July 2019: since I wrote this post I’ve spoken with the owner of the company mentioned. The owner explained that where they had gone wrong was posting this job on an official job page on Facebook when actually they consider it a ‘skills swap’ and that they ‘absolutely did not intend to insult, exploit or cause offence to those who are looking for part time work’. They have emphasised that they are a sole-trader offering classes in public spaces serving their local community and they do not have the income to pay a marketing professional.

The owner went on to explain that they are a novice when it comes to social media and that this was compounded by dyslexia which can mean they don’t always find it easy to communicate effectively. In hindsight they can now see just how much they’ve asked for, and that these things can’t realistically be done in a few hours a week.

The ‘skills swap’ was premised on previous experience where the owner’s clients had offered to help with elements such as branding and building their website in exchange for free classes. The owner acknowledges now that this may have led them to become a little naive and that they are embarrassed and upset about this situation. They have suspended their search for support.

I do not intend to pass judgement on this statement.

* images: Alex Dixon




Striking Women:


Four Months 'Til Our Wedding Day

Four Months Until Wedding - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Four months today Mike and I are getting married. We are psyched about the being married thing, it feels like the most natural thing in the world and I honestly wouldn’t want to spend my life hanging out with anyone else and our tiny dog. The wedding thing however is a bit surreal. Our KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) chill day is still on track to be chill, but there are unexpected details that need attention and vendors who need decisions and question we never saw coming and definitely don’t know the answers to. It’s all taking a lot more brain power than I think either of us anticipated, and a lot more money!

For us, we’ve found a few tricks to managing this so far (and things could change, there’s another four months of wed-think left). Firstly, we’ve planned this shindig together and if there’s a task one of us finds overwhelming (usually me) or can’t be arsed with (usually me) the other picks it up. Secondly, we made the decision at the outset not to overthink the party. It’s easy to get swept up in doubting your choices and looking at a million venues, dresses or cakes just in case, but honestly I reckon most of the time you’ll end up going back to the first thing you looked at, so it’s easier just to cut out the faff and go with your gut. Finally, we’ve chosen to use vendors who are also our friends! It’s awesome being able to support your friend’s businesses and it also means we already have a relationship, which makes things a lot easier (let me make it clear, we are paying going rate to our friends, the decision to use their services is because we want to support their businesses and help them grow!).

Four Months Until Wedding - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

So far we’ve managed to sort our our venue, the registrar, a photographer, food, music, cake, my dress and some random decor stuff (that never crossed our minds we’d need to think about). We’ve also started to think about our honeymoon/excuse for a fancy trip and are working with an amazing travel agent to put something really special together. Our budget is a constant juggle, and we’ve found that some expenses (my dress) have been much less than anticipated, and some have been way more (furniture for our dry hire venue).

We also can’t really get our heads around the idea we’re having a wedding. We’ve been to lots of other people’s weddings and they’re always lovely but I can’t imagine myself at the centre of it all, and I’m actually a bit worried it could trigger some social anxiety for me. One of the things that has always worried me about getting married is the sense that ‘the bride’ is public property, and that type of attention makes me super uncomfortable. Hopefully our friends and family know me well enough to know this, but just in case we’ve designed our day with the aim of minimising those intense moments I find difficult. I’m desperate to share how we plan to do this, but it would mean giving away details of our ‘big day’ (help me, I hate that term) and I don’t want to spoil the surprises - rest assured I’ll fill you in after the event.

Four Months Until Wedding - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Planning a wedding can be a head fuck. Sometimes you feel like you’ve lost your identity and all people want to talk about is wedding stuff. You worry that people will judge your taste and you ruminate on the very weird idea that spending a day messing around in a big white dress is supposed to be the pinnacle of your existence, the best day of your life and what you’ve been waiting for. I am psyched for marriage, but the wedding is kinda just a nice party (once the legal bit is out the way).

Have you planned a wedding? How did you find it? Tell me what was good/bad/weird in the comments.

* images: Let Me Show You Love, shot at Commonwealth Las Vegas.

My Half Marathon Training Plan

Half Marathon Training Plan - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Since I shared that I’m putting together my own training plan for Bacchus Half Marathon in September a few people have asked if I would share my plans. Normally I’m reluctant to share training plans I’ve put together myself, I’m not a coach and I don’t want anyone to hurt themselves following something I’ve put together myself. However, I’ve hacked this one together from some very reliable sources - Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s return to running programme, and Robin Arzon’s book Shut Up And Run (you can read my review here) - so I feel a bit more comfortable putting my plans out there.

This plan is designed for me, and where I’m at as a runner might be different to where you’re at. If you're new to running this might not be the best plan for you, and if you’re coming back from injury please chat to the team you’re working about what approach they think would be best for you. Robin says it best really:

If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it!

Blindly following any training plan is stupid. Yes, you will be uncomfortable and probably sore. No, you shouldn’t run with the flue or a bone sticking out of your leg. Training plans are not static. If your best day to rest is different than prescribed, then change your training to make it work. The training you make time for is infinitely better than the training that falls off because the plan doesn’t fit with your schedule. Remember, it’s ok to take additional rest days, but take the rest you need, not the rest you want. There’s a difference.

Right, let’s get into it!

XT = cross training (i like to take a spin class or strength train), RP = race pace

Half Marathon Training Plan - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

The first three weeks of this plan are all about walk/run intervals. Because I’ve been injured I want to take things slowly and make sure I don’t over do things before I’m even really started. I’ve also kept most of my long runs as run/walk, something Charlie inspired me to do after she shared she was walking for a minute for each mile of her long runs, which should keep my pace down and mean I’m a bit kinder to my body.

The easy runs I’ve put in this plan are exactly that - EASY. I like how Robin explains what it means to run easy:

when you can pass the talk test. Can you sing a verse of your favourite song or talk to a friend during the run? Good. Maintain that conversational pace throughout the entire run. You don’t want to burn out early.

Intervals/hills were some of my very favourite sessions when I was training for The Speed Project, and I’m excited to incorporate them into training for Bacchus, once I am a bit fitter and stronger! I’m still thinking about exactly what these workouts will look like, but I will share them once I’ve got it nailed. Prepare to sweat and feel awesome!

Finally, recovery. I am all about yin yoga at the moment. I find it calms my nervous system and opens up my body in a way no other yoga practice does, so I’m planning to incorporate at least one session a week.

So there you go, my plan to get back up and running in 12 weeks! Let me know what you think!

* images: Anna Rachel Photography

* my trainers were GIFTED by 361 Europe.