Recently I have been reading a great book called Drive: The surprising Truth about What motivates Us – by Daniel H Pink. A very interesting read.

He illustrates that there is a clear science behind motivation, yet business seems to have neglected this science and have created their own science. As we also know there is a clear science to show how music motivates us during exercise, but again business seems ready to neglect this science in favour of business motivation.

The very pressure of goals may lead employees to focus myopically on short term gains and lose sight of the potential devastating long term effects on the organization.’

If you look at that quote and can put it into context over the PPL licence fee saga then we are moving forward. Somewhere the number crunchers in an organization are trying to find ways to recoup this music licence bill. Obviously I don’t know the exact numbers these organizations are looking for, but let’s be hypothetical, for example a organisation with 100 health clubs needs to find £300,000 over a year to fund its music licence. Well the easy answer is to make the instructors foot the bill.  After all they are the ones making the most out of it?! Why should the company pay for services that they advertise and include in their monthly subs?

Well done number crunchers, you’ve saved your company from having to foot that bill and somewhere, no doubt you may get  a bonus at the end of the year. That is business science right there.

Let’s look at this differently – £300,000 divided by 100 clubs is £3000. If in the high end clubs your membership is on avg £75 per month you are looking at recruiting 3 more members a month to pay for your music licence, local centres charging £35, you are looking at 6 more members. Achievable?! Or should we not look at recruiting members, but lets say retaining members?

Here’s why looking at numbers and penalizing your instructors may backfire on your business model.

By removing the instructors creativity to create playlists or to write their own fitness programs, means you are ultimately making them do what you want, which results in the class becoming more ‘work’ orientated rather than having a ‘joy’ aspect.

Most fitness professionals no longer get the experience of creating their own programs and receiving that intrinsic motivation, as they are basically following someone else’s ideas and program. Whilst they may enjoy their ‘work’ it is not something born out of them. Rather than creating choreography and owning what they do and what the next step is they make, they are having to practice someone else’s routine.

Most of the time these routines are mundane and repetitive; even from the source of the programming most of these programs are now structured to meet the clients expectation so again even this creative tool has now just become a manufactured ‘work’ piece.

Even in boutique studios, performance related pay is prevalent, and from a business point of view it makes sense to justify having an instructor on the books, or to incentives them. But should an instructor really focus on how many people are in the room? The same level of performance should be delivered if there are 3 riders in the room compared to a full class. In fact the perception of smaller numbers in the room could mean that the instructor begins to second guess themselves and focus on what they are doing wrong, rather than focusing on what they are doing well.

For most freestyle, creative instructors in the fitness industry it is all about intrinsic motivation, the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging and absorbing – it is essential for high levels of creativity.

As previously mentioned for an industry that claims we know how to motivate and drive people to exercise we do our very best to restrain our instructors because we fear failure. We feel we need to spoon feed our  instructors, what moves to do, what music to play, leading to false motivation which is not heartfelt, we even choreograph when to say motivational cues. Truly motivational! This in turn can lead to boredom and eventual an exit strategy from the industry as many look upon it as work and no longer play.’ That’s alright’ says the fitness industry as there are plenty of new instructors out their who are willing to enter this non motivational merry go round.

However, jettisoning off the more experience and creative instructors; what are the risks there? Could you lose more than 3 members a month? Could they follow their beloved instructors to a new studio? Could your extrinsic, number crunching motivation be harming your business moving forward?

Understand what makes your more creative instructors tick. The instructors who teach because the motivation is the activity itself, deepening their learning, delighting customers, doing ones best – there are no shortcuts. The instructors who scroll through hours of music late at night, who create their own choreography, who practice as they learn; the instructors who have a plan who can move their classes forward, building on the success of the previous class. Who will help your members reach their own goals and who will keep renewing their memberships which in turn will pay that annoying music expense. These instructors should not be being penalised for helping your business.

So in conclusion, the fitness industry should be embracing it’s instructors, I delivered a training course the other day, during the assessment process one of the instructors had created their own plan and playlist, he needed to work on his instructional aspects  but he owned the workout and fully understood what he needed to do. Unfortunately he works for a company where the in-house instructors must use non PPL Licenced music. In one fell swoop, they have just taken away this instructors instrinsic motivator, his creativity. As his picks up a PPL free cd from the limited supply at his club, as he sits on the bike looking at his riders, he is about to do ‘work’ not something he enjoys. Soon he will stop teaching and 25 classes of music fees would have been wasted on training.

Any comments on the above are welcome.