Fitness Isn't Valuable because Working in Fitness doesn't Pay.

Feb 16, 2021

The median income for a fitness coach is $19.42/hour and the mean is $21.69, and there is a bigger problem with this statistic than what it seems.

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the median and mean hourly income of "fitness trainers", they are calculating it based on floor hours. If you have ever trained a client, you know that you can easily add another 25% to 30% to the clock for servicing their needs beyond what occurs on the floor. What that means is that you can bring those incomes down by about 20%/hour in real world math, bringing the median pay down to $15.54/hour (25% above minimum wage in New York) and the mean down to $17.35/hour.

There is no formal schooling that stands as a barrier to a career in fitness, and while many think this is a good thing because of how many people never would have started who now provide immense value, I believe it's a catastrophic failure of personal awareness and accountability by the industry with the most upside to change the Country in 2021 and beyond.

"Fitness is healthcare!" Was a statement we heard a lot of during 2020, but is it? Or would it be better to say "Fitness could be healthcare."?

Healthcare has a standard of education and experience of entry for those who provide it.

Healthcare has a standard of measurable results. Even if we don't like the standard, or the methods, it exists.

Healthcare has societal trust built on generations of progress and cumulatively trillions of dollars of investment.

If we want fitness to become the solution to healthcare that I believe many think it already is, and I believe it could be, we need to take a real hard look at why the average person who makes their living in the industry is paid less than $20/hour to do it.

I believe that the ship has sailed on making fitness more valuable as an industry. The public has already decided what it is, and what it can do for them. And the public has decided that with very rare exception, it's just not worth very much. So I started looking outside of fitness for an industry that has been able to elevate the most educated and experienced within it to a place in which they can have respected, fulfilling, careers.

The average physician assistant in the US earns $112,260.00 annually. Their scope stops short of that of a doctor, and exceeds the scope of the nurse. Anyone who has ever stepped into a hospital will tell you, nurses run the hospital. Be that as it may, Registered Nurses earn on average $73,300 annually, or, 65% of Physician Assistant pay by comparison. Nurses and Physician Assistants work the same number of hours, but physician assistants by in large are working in private clinics with standard working hours as opposed to the shift work required in hospitals where the bulk of Nurses reside.

The fitness industry needs to become the health and fitness industry. In order to do that, it will require a standardization of education with a stiff barrier to entry and consistent delivery of valuable, service driven outcomes.

In the future I believe that together, we can create, health insurance companies will pay trainers for sessions they perform with a prescription from chiropractors, physical therapists, osteopaths, physiatrists, orthopedists, and Medical Doctors.

Every hospital, physical therapy clinic, and chiropractic office will aim to have one of these fitness professionals on their staff inside their facility.

These professionals will be sought after and revered by society, even as they push through the resistance from the status quo.

And I have decided that I'm done waiting for this future to come, instead I aim to create it.

The professional I'm describing will be called an "Active Life Professional", and with our team beside me, I will provide that education.

I understand that this started as an article and ended as a declaration. It's time for change, and the only thing more dangerous than doing harm is standing by when good could otherwise be done.


- Sean Pastuch