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24 Hour Fitness Alienates Millions In Less Than 30 Seconds

Updated on December 23, 2014

What Wrong With 24 Hour Fitness?

24 Hour Fitness may become the Biggest Looser... of revenue if they don't rethink their position. Recently here in Los Angeles a radio ad has been running for 24 Hour Fitness talking about their "Fitness Revolution."

In the ad you will hear a spokesperson say, "we don't work on commission, we're here to help."

So, there I was in the car driving home from work. A client of 24 Hour Fitness since 1991 when they were still called Family Fitness. I have also been earning a living as a commission based sales person since 2003. One thing I like to pride myself in is my ability to HELP my clients. Genuinely help them find the right product for them that meets their needs and solves their problems.

I also pride myself on the fact that it's hard to offend me. Here's a quote I try to live by:

"The behavior of others isn't a reason to become immobolized." -Wayne Dyer

Yet, here I am, offended...

Exactly, what in the heck are they trying to say by that?

I get the feeling that the implication here is that all commission based sales people are looking out strictly for themselves and do not function with the customers best interest in mind.

After hearing the commercial, I thought to myself, "Self? How many other people in this great nation are on commission and also getting a little pissed off right now?"

According to the 2000 Census, nearly 14.6 million Americans listed themselves under the title "Sales and related occupations." And according to Selling, with the job market in the hoopla that it is, commission based jobs are.. wait for it... on the rise!

In an article from the LA Times dated February of 2011, "numbers reveal that 14 million Americans are self-employed, up from the 9 million that the old data indicated worked for themselves. Many workers find themselves making their own jobs once they become frustrated with employers' reticence to hire."

Is it safe to say, that if you're self employed, you're on commission?

And what about retail stores? "Retail trade continued to add jobs in December, with a gain of 28,000. Employment in the industry has increased by 240,000 over the past 12 months. Over the month, job gains continued in general merchandise stores (+13,000) and in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+11,000). Employment in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores fell by 10,000."

The other thing I'm struggling to understand is the implication that a person who gets paid by the hour will be more "customer service oriented." If you've been to many a major retailer, you'll know that good service, regardless of the pay plan, is hit or miss at best.

Why would 24 Hour Fitness make a statement like that and in nine simple words, basically alienate thousands of millions? These millions of people are potential clients and referrals.

Maybe we need to seek a deeper understanding here...

So let's look at what it means to be on commission, shall we?

Commission Defined

  • According to Wikipedia: Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered
  • Merrium-Webster: a fee paid to an agent or employee for transacting a piece of business or performing a service; especially: a percentage of the money received from a total paid to the agent responsible for the business
  • Grant Cardone: From his book Sell to Survive: "every time you get your way, you've just been paid a're entire life is a commission. There's no salary guaranteed in life. The whole world is on commission.

Let's look at it another way. Let's say the company you work for (by the hour) is a company that provides a certain widget that allows a particular doohickey to function. Without your widget, the doohickey is useless. Now lets say that there are multiple companies that sell, produce and retail these types of widgets. What happens when your company (that pays you by the hour) doesn't sell enough widgets? You're out of a job, that's what happens!

That being said, if you work for that company and want to protect your income, then regardless of what your name tag says or the department you're in, you're also in the sales department.

That being said, and NO this isn't "just semantics" if you work, you're on commission. Grant is 100% correct in that there is no guaranteed salary. Just ask the employees at Circuit City, Kodak, and American Airlines...

THEREFORE, it wasn't just Americans on "commission" by the definition provided in the court of public opinion, that 24 Hour Fitness offended, it's you. The hard working American. We're all on commission!!!

How a company pays an individual for their service to that company is completely and utterly irrelevant to how that one unique employee handles them self and the client. Go spend 10 minutes trolling Yelp and you'll quickly find that out. You find that at the same location people are having amazing experiences and real crappy ones too. At the same place!

Grant Cardone also teaches us that "service is senior to selling." Any customer facing employee should recognize that without these customers, I'm out of work and then behave in a manor akin to treating said customer as an honored guest in their home.

And why not? There's a pretty good chance you spend more time at work that at home anyway, right?

And no, it was't because of the camera...

The Bottom Line

Dear 24 Hour Fitness,

You're all on commission. Period. There's nothing wrong with being on commission. There's nothing to be ashamed of by being on commission. Your job is to provide a safe, comfortable and supportive environment for your clients to come in and get in the best shape of their lives. For providing that service, your commission is you stay in business.

From your own website: "We see each club as a community and take pride in selecting team members that are as passionate and friendly as they are knowledgeable. Reach out, ask them questions and let us know how they’re doing."

If you fail at this, your clients go to Bally's, Golds and L.A. Fitness and as revenue declines, so does the amount of people 24 Hour Fitness can keep on the payroll.

If you're a personal trainer there, your lively hood is dependent on your clients recognition that it's better to get fit with you than without out you. You are really on commission! Your commission is someone deciding to trust you enough to put their fitness level and safety in your hands. Forget the money for a second, how rewarding is it to know you helped someone? Isn't that why you do this anyway? Isn't this why you chose this business in the first place? That's a huge commission!

Commission is a reward for doing it right and doing it from a place of love, service and care.

Yes, there are a few scumbags and bad apples out there who screw it up for the rest of us, but there are an equal amount of hourly employees who have zero passion for their job who are only in it for a paycheck.

My suggestion and wish to you is that you rethink your position about what it means to be on commission.

There are millions of potential clients and current clients of yours who make a living under a traditional commission based pay structure, myself included. I prefer it. I prefer to share in the revenue of my company. It tells me that I'm doing my job correctly. If I don't generate revenue, if my company doesn't turn a profit, my company suffers, my family suffers, my landlord suffers, the company that loaned me money to buy my car suffers, and so on and so forth.

I have chosen to work in an industry that I am passionate about and want to share my product with as many human beings as possible. I do this because I want to help other people. This is how I provide for my family. Being on commission means that I create my own economy. I am not dependent on anyone or anything to create income and I have the honor of doing this by serving others and I cannot truly be of service to someone until they buy my product. Nor can you.

If it is to be, it is up to me. -William Johnsen

When an entire company comes together and works under this paradigm, amazing things will happen!


David R. Bradley

Share Your Opinion Here...

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    • David R Bradley profile imageAUTHOR

      David R Bradley 

      8 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      AJS, thanks for finding this article and chiming in. A couple things to consider is that everyone in on commission. Every time you get your way, you get a commission. Commission is not always monetary and if you get paid for your efforts, it's a form of commission. Revenue in a company is the most important thing. If there's no money coming in, you can't keep the business running nor pay anyone a salary.

      I agree with you that sales people looking out for themselves are as distasteful as the clock watcher who's working at Best Buy just to get paid and has no real passion for electronics. There are as many apathetic employees that get paid by the hour as there are on "commission." There are also professionals in every industry.

      Finally, there is such a thing as good pressure vs bad pressure. If your best friend is considering suicide, will you pressure him to get help? If one of your parents is morbidly obese, will you pressure them to lose weight? If you, your company and your product and level of service is the best solution for your client, is it a mistake for them to do business elsewhere? Yes. Are you willing to pressure someone to do what you KNOW is the best thing for them? Pressure is what makes a diamond!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This article is true in some aspects although it is a fact that some not all people who are on commission are thinking about their paycheck needs as opposed to the potential clients needs. I think that is the reason why so many company's are changing to no commission. Not everyone has the maturity put their commission aside and really focus on the customers needs. 24 Hour, Best Buy, and Carmax are great examples of successful company's that operate without commission. I think this article is valid in many aspects but by means is saying that commission employees are less effective. They're simply saying "we are not on commission so you don't have to worry about being pressured when you come to our gym." Lets face it we all know car sales and other commission jobs suck to deal with sometimes. Props to 24 for doing what you do.

    • David R Bradley profile imageAUTHOR

      David R Bradley 

      9 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      This comment popped up on Facebook and I wanted to include it here:

      "The headline is a little harsh. The intent of the commercial - which I have not heard - sounds like 24 hour is trying to advertise the "no pressure" sales aproach. Like it or not, commissioned sales people have a bad rap. Think of the used car salesman. I appreciated the no pressure aproach when I signed up at 24. Very different from the gym down the road who practically followed me into the parking lot. This is a very well written article - that really has nothing to do with 24 - other than you bash them in the hedline. BTW, I am a commissioned salesperson."

      Thought it belonged here... comments on the comment?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I work for nothing but then again I would be fired by now since I hardly write.

    • David R Bradley profile imageAUTHOR

      David R Bradley 

      9 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      These are some great comments! I'd love to hear more from Hubbers the world over. Hubbers are all on commission, wouldn't you agree?

    • profile image

      The Bald Guy 

      9 years ago

      Target on David! I don't mind at all letting my clients know that I am paid commission for the services I provide. That commission is based on the level and quality of service percieved by the client, and the level of service that I provide you cannot attain elsewhere.

      That level of service and care I provide is what allows me to dominate this industry and others in my market will tell you the same.

      My clients respect that and are pleased to hear that I am motivated to make sure their experience with me is superior than anytime or anywhere else!!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The work structure is probably most important in either case. I know plenty of jobs that pay only by commission but still control you just like any hourly paid employee. At the bottom you our forced to stand in line until its your turn and they can force you right out of any sale due to structure. The result is a very greedy and cut throat operation. On the other hand many hourly employees lose interest because a corporate structure does not reward its employees for increased profits or success. Sadly, most of us are sick of not making any money when we are unemployed and just as sick of not making any money when we work 40 or more hours regardless.

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 

      9 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I think people who work for commissions do a lot better job than other workers. Of course your main goal is to earn a living, but I think a commission based worker is just as eager to help and do a great job as any other worker. This is a very good hub and very well written.

    • profile image

      Michal Enders 

      9 years ago

      The entire world economy rests upon the backs of salespeople who interest others in their products and services. It is the essential factor in the success of every business.

      This FAIL for 24 hour fitness is deeper than the alienation of hundreds of thousands of professionals, it speaks to a deep seated non belief that the things they offer aren't as important as what they don't do/ How can you sell THAT?

      Looks like their may be in for another name change soon.

    • profile image

      Charles Ellingson 

      9 years ago

      This was excellent David. Those who blame the economy should start with themselves.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Well Said, Sir. Well Said.

    • profile image

      Raquel Elle Bell 

      9 years ago

      I'm not offended. I have a saying... "The fact that many organizations are stupid doesn't surprise me it's the level of stupidity that is surprising". As a business consultant I see so many poor decisions executed with very little thought to the greater impact to the organization. This is simply a symptom of a poorly aligned company. If the mission of this gym is truly about customer service they should embrace commission based sales, bring in professional sales people and dump the clock watchers. A commission sales person knows that if they do not take care of their customers, do not make that sale and keep their customers coming back for more... They don't eat. There is little motivation for the "sales" consultant who is not on commission... They get a paycheck either way.

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 

      9 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Really enjoyed your Sears video. Just found this article on the web - Sears to close another 130 stores!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      As always well thought out and passionate. I work in the hospitality service, and I definitely work on commission. My commission is my tips! 90% of the time I get my commission for the effort I put into a service. Bottom line is make the effort get paid for that effort.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great article and insight!

    • profile image

      Shari Stoops 

      9 years ago

      Excellent article David and lots of food for thought. We all work on commission whether we are in an hourly job or a sales job...part of our job is to sell our company. We want people to use our services so we all need to act like we are on commission and do our very best to provide the service the customer is wanting or needing. I am a nurse and I will tell you that if a hospital does not provide good and safe patient care, patients do not come back. My job depends on that so of course, I need to "sell" my service by providing the very best patient care I am able to provide.

    • David R Bradley profile imageAUTHOR

      David R Bradley 

      9 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      @Your Hyundai Guy, Thank you for your 2 cents! Appreciate you taking the time to read and for you passionate response!

      @Gadna, you took the words right out of my mouth!

      @Find, thanks for stopping by and the insightful comment.

      @LindsayGraham, Thank you for responding and the support.

      @EVERYONE! Share this if your with me!

    • LindsayGraham profile image


      9 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Whoa, this is simply amazing. I wonder who their copywriter is, and if they are hiding under a rock somewhere at this moment. I sure hope so! Nicely responded to, DB! Yes, I'm offended too. The Wayne Dyer quote is critical for survival though, for sure!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Well said

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      "we don't work on commission, we're here to help." That is the dumbest thing I've heard in a long long time, great article David!!

    • profile image

      Your Hyundai Guy 

      9 years ago

      I live off commission and I provide silver platter service to people whether they but from me or not. Hourly employees don't give a rats ass because they are paid regardless. That is so stupid to say that they care more and commission employees care less! Idiots


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