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How to hire the right gym staff

Sure, your gym’s reputation is important. But the people who grace its front doors, the employee at the cashier, and the PTs supporting your members will ultimately determine your gym’s success. Hiring the most talented staff for your fitness business is essential as they will reflect the face of your company to key shareholders, the clientele!
Hire the best gym staff

The job market is growing in the fitness industry. Every year, more and more people begin their studies to become personal trainers or fitness professionals. It also means that as a fitness business, your talent pipeline will be overflowing with many different kinds of fitness staff.

This article will fill you in on some key considerations before embarking on your gym hiring journey.

What gym roles to hire for and when?

When you first begin your hiring journey for your gym, it’s normal to feel like you don’t know where to begin. The ability to start smoothly and scale effectively will largely depend on how quickly you can hire new gym staff.

Starting up:

Front desk staff - Hiring a receptionist for the gym’s front desk will allow you time to concentrate on the business itself. They will be the first face most clients will see and need to have excellent customer service skills.

Service personnel - Imagine a scenario where your equipment needs maintenance, and you cannot fix it yourself. Hiring an in-house technician (if you’re a big gym) or enlisting an on-call sub-contractor is one of the first positions you need to fill.

Cleaning staff - The people who will keep your gym floor neat and tidy must be considered before opening your doors. Professional hygiene standards are a non-negotiable in modern fitness centres, especially in a post-pandemic landscape.

Growing and scaling:

Sales and membership manager - As your business grows, you will likely no longer have much time to focus on attracting new members and finding ways to compile leads. This is where a membership and sales officer becomes vital to growing the client base of the gym. They liaise with current and prospective members to keep them happy with their current memberships and foster new ones.

Personal trainers - At first, a gym can operate without personal trainers. Regular gym-goers can use the facilities without assistance. But to target broader demographics, personal trainers are worth their weight in gold. Personal trainers are still trendy among those who value close instruction when they exercise and often bring in their clients from outside your gym.

Group fitness instructor - If your gym has the facilities to host group fitness classes, you’d be wise to hire an instructor. The popularity of group fitness has risen appreciably in recent years. It is the only way a lot of people want to exercise.

Expanding your gym(s):

Membership consultant - When the amount of work exceeds what the sales manager can achieve, it may be an excellent time to hire dedicated membership consultants. Their primary job is to source possible leads, invite them to the gym and persuade them to join.

Group fitness manager - The more demand you have for group fitness, the more hectic the schedule becomes to manage. This role may not be full-time, but having a staff member dedicated to coordinating timetables and hiring instructors will save you a lot of time and hassle.

Head of personal training - Enlisting the help of a senior personal trainer to oversee their peers is an intelligent business decision. They are responsible for setting standards and hiring the best in the field while promoting your gym to their network of contacts.

Additional admin staff - If your gym has a childcare facility or needs more hands-on-deck at the front desk, don’t hesitate to bring more help. Often these staff members do not need to be on a full-time wage and can be great solutions to when you need to fill a gap.

Group Fitness Instructors

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Steps for interviewing candidates

​​To hire the best gym staff, you must use an efficient and streamlined interview process to screen prospective employees. Here are some of the steps which you should take before, during and, after the interview.

Pre-interview stage

Before interviewing, there are a few significant steps worth considering. Writing and creating an attractive job description is one of them. The other is understanding what factors will make some candidates better than others. Writing a great job description includes highlighting all the requirements necessary for the role you need filling. Make sure to include relevant academic and professional qualifications and similar experience attained. Specifying the key objectives of the role is vital to ensure you don’t mislead potential candidates.

To find the best fit, only consider the most promising candidates. As a general rule, the best candidates will fit all the requirements of the job description. One way to do this is by assessing their previous roles to find where their skill-sets may intersect with the open position. The following section on employee traits will assist in knowing for what and where to look.

During the interview

Use the interview phase to personally engage with the candidate and get to know them more informally. It is helpful to be calm and make the interviewee feel relaxed. Ask questions about their previous experiences at work, what kind of challenges they faced and how they overcame them. If the given response is vague and without any verifiable information, you can press them to be more specific.

Some practical questions to ask can include the following:

  • What certifications/ qualifications do you hold that are relevant to this role?
  • How do you think you can positively impact a successful fitness training session?
  • What would you do to enhance our customer experience?
  • What ideas do you have to increase the number of members at this gym?
  • If a member comes to you wanting to cancel their membership, what would you do?

Post-interview

Once you are happy with how a few of the interviews went, contacting the candidate’s references or verifying their interview responses is the next best step. Do your due diligence to find out more about the candidate, or you might end up making a bad hire.

Gym Staff

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Important traits to look for in gym staff

If you don’t have a solid understanding of what it takes to be a valuable gym staff member, here is a starting point of what to look for:

Excellent communication skills

One in four people (27%) see a friendly personality as the most essential trait for a personal trainer. This statistic also holds for any gym staff member. The ability to communicate with other staff and critically the gym’s members are key for any candidate. Listening skills are vital, too; the candidate must speak to and converse with a wide variety of people. Therefore, a candidate’s people skills will need to be sharp to succeed in a dynamic and fast-paced environment.

Compassion and empathy

Each team member should relate to the struggles that overweight and unfit people face in their journey to discovering fitness. If the staff member can show an interest in connecting to their efforts, they will exercise compassion and empathy. Not only will this will increase their productivity, but your members will feel comfortable and welcomed.

Knowledge and know-how

A good education doesn’t always translate to becoming a good doctor, and the same can be said for personal trainers or sales managers. Education isn’t everything, but it does teach and help you hone various life skills and sharpen your discipline. Finding candidates who want to learn more about the role and their industry or already have an experienced background will generally make the best hires.

A strong passion for fitness

This one comes last because although it is unnecessary to be a fitness freak, having a fitness orientated lifestyle certainly helps. You want to breed a gym environment where people are here because they love it, not because they have to be. This kind of infectious behaviour spreads throughout the club and breeds a healthy atmosphere where members want to push their peers to achieve their goals. Twenty-five per cent of gym members are not happy with their health clubs, according to a recent survey. Foster a gym that wants to bring the best out of everyone needs passionate and committed fitness-minded people.

Onboarding personal trainers

According to a survey by Wyzowl in 2020, over 90% of customers feel that companies could do better during new client onboarding. Those numbers represent a seismic imbalance between expectations and the result.

Things to consider:

Consistent service delivery: Onboarding PTs with a platform that has a user-friendly interface is key to making your staff feel settled in their new environment. It makes the job of scaling a lot easier when everyone is on the same page.

Professional standards: Establishing an onboarding process that is transparent and holds the employees to a high standard indicates to new candidates that your company is serious about what it does. Happy clients often make referrals, and it is your gym’s professionalism and dedication to the clients’ needs that will separate it from others.

Systemised and structured: Your onboarding process will benefit from having a clear and concise structure. Your PTs will feel secure by regimenting the process and allowing them to grasp the concept with minimal effort. The checklist below will help them understand it from A-Z.

Training and mentoring your gym staff

Acting as a mentor for your new gym staff can be casual or formal. It can either be time-consuming or take up not much time at all. Personal trainers are amongst the happiest employed workers in any industry, so keeping them motivated is essential.

Mentors are people we can look up to in our lives that assist in our development in ways we cannot. Mentors can help others to encourage them to realise their potential, provide motivation to sharpen specific skills, and – perhaps most importantly – to enjoy the pursuit of excellence in all endeavours we chase.

What strategies can you use to mentor new gym staff continually?

  • Share ideas, information and resources - Anything new for you is new for them–sharing new concepts, and things you’ve learned will only help the new staff member.
  • Ask for input - To get them involved and gauge their interest level and what they need help motivating.
  • Create a shadow experience - Allowing the staff member to shadow you a day or a few hours a week gives them a first-hand perspective on the standards.
  • Ask questions - Constantly keep the staff member engaged and ensure they feel comfortable.
  • Build confidence - Encourage them where possible and build confidence through positive affirmation and recognition.

Training Staff

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The final word

Whatever stage you are at in your fitness business, your next hire is always the most important.

Finding employees who are the right fit and hiring them at the right time will help your business achieve solid foundations and give you the best chance of standing out from the pack.

Cover photo source.

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About the author
Agnes

Agnes

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