First union in fitness world comes to East York

GoodLife trainers urge other gyms to unionize

GoodLife FItness Danforth is one of the locations across Canada where personal trainers have formed the first union in the fitness world. Emilie Must/Toronto Observer

Personal trainers at Canada’s largest gym are hopeful favouritism in the workplace will end after agreeing to a union deal — a first for the fitness industry.

On Dec. 4, management at GoodLife and the employees, backed by the workers united Canada council, finalized a two-year contract at GoodLife locations in Ajax, Peterborough and Toronto.

In 2016,  25 per cent of GoodLife personal trainers across Canada came together to form a union.

“There was no system in place for the company to hand out clients that were sold by management,” Connor Power, a personal trainer at the GoodLife on Coxwell Avenue said.

“This caused massive favouritism and harassment by club fitness managers towards their personal trainers.”

Personal training is a physical industry where there are risks of workplace injuries, yet there was no compensation in place.

“The company did not care if we were injured and unable to work,” Powers said.  “A lot of trainers would have to quit because they were injured and unable to come into work.”

Along with injury and no guarantee of clients, trainers were required to do extra work for no pay.

“We were required to put in several hours a week at the gym to find clients and the company was not compensating personal trainers for this work,” Power said.

The union is part of the workers united Canada council, which advocates for ending precarious work in unstable industries.

“Until this contract, [there was] total lack of unionization, total lack of sick days, limited benefits,” Naylor said. “This is an industry with a lot of young people where there’s a high rate of turnover.”

“GoodLife is by far the largest fitness company in Canada,” Adrie Naylor said, a union representative. “[The union deal] will give workers the opportunity to have a voice at work, which is a really positive step around health and safety at the workplace.

Lack of opportunity for a steady income is making precarious work an issue in the fitness sector. This is a problem in a growing number of industries in Ontario.

“The goal the personal trainers have is to make positive changes within their own workplace,” Naylor said. She also hopes “to see a positive change on the industry as a whole.”

Naylor says GoodLife is a large enough company to influence other gyms to form unions and try to negotiate better rights for workers.

When asked about the treatment of workers at the company before the union agreement, GoodLife media relations officer Adam Roberts said, “Any violations that occurred in the past were addressed directly with the Ministry of Labour and were rectified as quickly as possible.”

Roberts added, “It is important to us that every GoodLife associate is set up for success, and that every associate has an equal opportunity to prosper.”

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Posted: Dec 13 2017 12:18 pm
Filed under: News