Let’s face it, having to re-negotiate your pay or benefits as a fitness instructor, whether you are employed or contracted at a studio, can be a bit nerve-wracking. But it doesn’t have to be!

We’ve compiled some tips in this how-to guide to re-negotiating pay and benefits that can help you head into negotiations like a pro.

Do your research

Just like anything else, you need to do your research about industry standards for pay and benefits in your position. You can check reputable sources for information about salary and per-class pay standards for fitness instructors like the American Council on Exercise, which released a comprehensive Salary Report for Health and Fitness Professionals based on extensive research. Once you know what the going rate is for people in your position, you can determine a reasonable number to ask for rather than naming a price that is too high or too modest.

Determine an exact pay range

If you’ve done your research about what the salary range or the going rate for price per class is at comparable gyms or studios in the area, you should have a reasonable number in mind. Whether you are salaried or you get paid as a contractor, go into your meeting with a specific pay range that would be ideal. Doing this shows that you are prepared and are also willing to work with your boss to reach a number that is mutually agreeable.

Talk to other people in the industry

While it’s important to research industry rates for pay in your area, it’s also important to try to talk to other people who have the same job as you at other studios to learn about the local competition. Your boss or manager should ideally be clued into this information as well, because they want to be offering competitive rates in order to attract talent to their studio.

Talk to mentors or trusted friends in the industry for their experiences with negotiating pay in a position like yours.

If you know for a fact that the studio down the street pays $5 more per class for the same thing, you will have confidence that you are asking for a reasonable pay increase. You could also talk to mentors or trusted people in the industry for their experiences with negotiating pay in a position like yours.

Figure out the benefits you could work with

If for some reason your manager can’t meet the number you want, make sure you know what other benefits you could agree to instead like extra vacation time, a better class slot, financial support to get a new certification, discounts on studio merchandise, reduced rental fees, or a maybe a one-time bonus.

It depends on your role at the studio, but you should know what benefits you want to ask for in addition to the pay increase you’re looking to get. If your boss can meet you on the benefits you ask for, maybe that’s the best place to start!

Focus on the value you add

When you are negotiating pay and benefits as a fitness instructor, it’s all about the value you add. It can be tempting to try to explain why you need to earn more money, but the fact is, we’d all like to earn a little more! That won’t convince your boss why you deserve a raise.

What will be convincing is evidence of the value you add as an employee. If you can, keep track of how many clients you’ve brought into the studio and how full your classes are and crunch some numbers. If each person is paying X amount per class, and you teach X students per class, and X classes per month…

If you can’t quantify the value, determine other ways you add value. Do you always sub when your boss calls for you to fill in for someone? Do you stay after class to clean up the studio without being told to? Have you started taking on more classes lately? Have you received consistently positive reviews from clients, co-workers, and managers? Focus on the value you add to the studio to make your case convincing!

Plan how you will approach your boss or manager

Is your boss hard to catch in person? Send an email or text first to request a meeting or a phone call. Or compose an email asking for the pay and benefits you want.

Boss never answers email? Plan to be around when you know your boss may be in and ask when they will have some time to meet with you to talk about your job at the studio.

If you aren’t sure what type of communication your boss prefers, talk to other co-workers to find out how they’ve approached him or her to discuss something. Whatever you do, you don’t want to ambush the person you need to speak to about your pay and benefits because if you catch them off-guard, they may just shut you down or give you a vague answer to get out of the situation quickly. They need to be prepared, too!

Prepare yourself mentally for the meeting

Once the meeting is set, do whatever you need to do to feel prepared. That might mean you write out your talking points, practice with a friend, or get a good workout the day of your talk to relax and reduce any jitters. Maybe you need to do some power posing and positive affirmations in the mirror before you head into the meeting—whatever you have to do to prepare mentally and emotionally—or physically—do it!

And if you’re sending an email, have someone else read it over before you hit send. Then, prepare for the face-to-face encounter you may have with your boss after asking virtually.

Be confident and assertive without being aggressive

Whether you’re meeting in person or emailing, be confident and assertive in your approach. You need to show your boss that you mean business. If you are too passive, you may communicate to your boss that this job and the pay raise isn’t that important to you or that you lack experience, which isn’t the message you want to send. If your boss says no, ask them to explain why and what you can do to get the raise you want. This will show that you are serious about it and are willing to work to get what you want.

That said, you also don’t want to come across as aggressive. The answer might be disappointing, but that doesn’t mean you should get into an argument. Once you state what you want and why and review your boss’s response, that’s it! If you aren’t happy, then maybe it’s time to look for a new place where you will feel more valued.