Inside the Grueling Life of an Equinox Trainer

One trainer compared working at Equinox to the Hunger Games

Equinox trainers complain of low pay and long, often unpaid hours.
Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

For many health and wellness enthusiasts, Equinox provides a high-end, luxury gym experience. But for many trainers at that establishment, Equinox is more grueling than glamorous. A recent New York Times article took a deep dive into the lives of Equinox trainers, revealing a culture of low pay, long hours and exhaustion.

Employees throughout the country complained of long, often unpaid hours, some reportedly spending 70 – 80 hours per week in the gym. Some even reported sleeping at the gym between sessions.

The exhausting conditions are often amplified for beginner trainers, who undergo an intense “ramping” period upon being hired, throughout which they spend 15 – 20 hours per week working roughly minimum-wage floor shifts, during which they are expected to recruit clients in order to gradually begin converting their low-paid floor shifts into better-paying training sessions.

According to the New York Times, many new employees struggle to recruit enough clients in order to earn a comfortable wage, and often find themselves working additional unpaid hours in order to woo more clients. The low pay and long hours force many beginning employees to quit a few months into the job, contributing to the company’s overall 50 percent annual turnover rate.

The company has also faced a number of lawsuits over the years, including two settled in 2013 for unpaid overtime. Last year, a former trainer at an Equinox gym in Dallas sued seeking overtime wages. The trainer, Stephanie Rosales, claimed she spent 80 to 90 hours a week at the gym when she first began the job, and also said she was “punished” with a series of minimum-wage shifts after taking time off to go see a sick family member.

Rosales, who now works as a private trainer, told the Times she quit Equinox two years ago. “At that point, anything was better than working there.”

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