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A comprehensive guide to health and fitness staffing

health and fitness staffing

The fitness industry is highly competitive. There are over a hundred thousand health and fitness clubs in the US in 2021. The number of gyms has steadily increased at a rate of 1.6% over the past five years. That’s why thinking like a businessman and staffing your gym with the right fitness professionals from the get-go is critical for every gym owner. 

The experts you need depend on what kind of gym you have. Your fitness center can offer personal training, health fitness, group fitness classes, yoga, and more. And you need to hire staff accordingly. 

These days, many gyms also hire healthcare staff if they have workout classes for seniors or offer health coaching to customers. 

In this article, we will look at the different types of roles you need to fill in your fitness business, some tips for hiring health and fitness staff, and some mistakes to avoid.

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Types of health and fitness staff you need to hire 

We’ve discussed various roles of gym staff in the list below. You might not need to hire all of them for your gym. For instance, if you operate entirely remotely, then you won’t need a cleaning crew. Similarly, if you’re a small setup with only a few clients, you probably don’t need a manager for personal trainers. 

Here are some gym employees you’ll need for your fitness business: 

Operational manager 

This employee manages different departments, handles high-level complaints, and ensures that the facility runs smoothly.  The post of operational manager needs to be filled even if you’re just starting. In the beginning, usually, the gym owner is the operational manager.

Social media managers 

You need a brilliant social media manager and marketing team to promote your business in today’s world. Many of your customers will find you online so having a top-notch social media presence is key in dominating your competition. 

If you lack social media marketing expertise, it’s best to get a professional, even if you’re a small team with less than ten employees.  

Senior manager or general manager 

If you have multiple departments, then the top person in each is the senior manager. The general manager looks over the day-to-day activity in the gym, assigns shifts, approves vacations, and resolves issues on the spot. 

You should hire a senior manager when you have enough employees and departments that an operational manager can’t efficiently manage day-to-day stuff. 

Certified personal trainers

Personal trainers will likely be the heart of your health and wellness studio. Certified trainers with a good client base can attract more customers to your gym and help bring in other great fitness coaches. 

Remote fitness instructors  

Many gyms have a hybrid model now, so you need personal trainers that can work remotely or offer online classes. You need a slightly different approach for motivating your customers during online classes, so sometimes, you’ll have to hire remote fitness instructors separate from the in-person trainers. 

Fitness director

Fitness directors can help create workout plans for group classes and individuals according to their specific fitness goals. These employees oversee the fitness aspect of your gyms, such as the programs, trainers, and equipment. 

You only need a fitness director if you offer multiple programs and have many trainers. 

Sales team and front desk staff

Your front desk staff serves as receptionists and also as a sales team. These employees help walk-in customers understand your brand and the membership packages you offer. You can also have a specific sales team that can promote your business online and in fitness events. 

Small gym owners can handle sales themselves, but you’ll need to hire a dedicated team if you’re a bigger business. 

Gym maintenance crew 

You need a maintenance crew, no matter how small or big your gym is. This can include cleaners, equipment maintenance employees, and facility maintenance experts.  

Steps for hiring health and fitness staff  

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you’re staffing your fitness center because the stakes are high. These people will represent your brand and largely determine how much success you can achieve. 

Here is a quick and practical guide for all gym owners who are either hiring for the first time or looking to expand their health and fitness staff teams:

1. Start with a great job posting 

Create an elaborative yet comprehensive job posting that explains the details of what you’re looking for in your employee. Mention if it’s a full-time or part-time position, the core responsibilities, and the required soft skills and qualifications. 

Your goal here is to attract the right kind of candidates with the job posting. Just mention everything clearly because that can save you from sorting through piles of irrelevant applicants. 

Once it’s ready, post it on the platforms where the job seekers are. That can be the more commonly known ones, such as LinkedIn or Glassdoor. You can also use fitness-specific platforms in your area if you have any. 

2. Quickly narrow down the list of candidates 

Next, you need to define criteria for eligible candidates to quickly and accurately narrow down the applicants. Write down the things you’re looking for in your health and fitness staff and list them in order of most to least important. 

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These could be relevant experience, recommendations, qualifications, and so on. This step is important because otherwise, you’ll have too many candidates to interview, and that is a time-consuming process. 

You can run background checks on the top candidates in your list and call up their references to hear what they have to say. It’s not necessary to do this step at this point. You can also do this after interviewing the candidates. 

3. Streamline the interview process

Knowing what your ideal staff member looks like makes it much easier to interview candidates. Because then you can quickly assess if they’ll be a good cultural fit for your business and whether or not they have the capacity for the work you require. 

Since the world is headed toward remote work, you might have to conduct the interview online. So be prepared to assess your candidates’ expertise remotely. 

You can also bring other high-ranking staff members into the interview process if you have other high-ranking staff members, such as general managers or fitness directors. That way, you can interview multiple candidates simultaneously and complete this process much quicker.  

You can conduct the first interview over the phone then bring them on-site for the final round of interviews. 

4. Simplify onboarding and probationary period 

As the business owner, you must be well aware of your business model and how you interact with the customers. But to a new employee, all these aspects are foreign. 

So you should create a checklist of things to go through with the new staff member to help them acclimate to your business and the other employees. 

A probationary period can be great to determine if the employee can work with you or not. Make sure to clearly define the metrics for assessment so both you and the staff member are clear on what s/he should be doing during this time and what the key performance indicators are. 

There are different gym management software that can help you simplify onboarding for your new hires. By using software with a simple user interface, you can show your hires how they can schedule clients, answer questions, conduct live classes online, and so much more. 

5. The final offer letter or contract 

After you’ve tested out the new hires and you’re satisfied with them, you can send them the offer letter. Here, it is recommended to involve a lawyer to look over the documents and confirm that everything is above board. 

You should discuss the key points you wish to include in the offer letter with the recruit during the interview process. That’ll save you from drafting and redrafting the contract. There are many templates available online that you can use to draw up an offer for your hire. 

Mistakes to avoid when hiring staff 

As new business owners, you can’t afford to make a mistake with your hires, especially in an industry as competitive as the fitness industry. Here are some tips that you should always remember when it comes to fitness staffing: 

Don’t start too late 

Begin the process of hiring gym staff ideally before you need them. Or at least as soon as you realize that you and your current staff are being spread too thin. If you make a hire in a hurry because you absolutely need to fill the position, then the chances of you making a bad hire increase. 

You don’t want to deal with firing your new hire then rehiring again because it’s too much of a headache and a significant financial drain. 

That’s why you should have a job post template ready to go and preferably a list of candidates in the pipeline before you even need them. 

Don’t hire under an arbitrary job title 

If you’re placing an ad for a general manager or a remote personal trainer, then plan out what their exact roles will be. 

Many business owners post job ads as soon as they feel the need to delegate some tasks. They do so without first deciding on the core responsibilities of the new hires or how they will assess the staff. 

Not only is that counterproductive, but you could also end up hiring a full-time employee and later realize that you’re wasting a couple of hundred dollars a month because you could’ve easily managed with a part-time employee. 

Don’t overstretch the budget for the sake of a hire

A common mistake amongst new gym owners is hiring someone whose salary or per hour rate is over the budget. That might seem like a no-brainer to you now, but when gym owners get desperate for new clients, they tend to make such mistakes. 

They see a trainer with an excellent track record and a big social media following. So they think that getting them in the gym will bring in many more customers. They hire them even if the trainers cost way more than what the business owners can afford. 

That’s a gamble which might not pan out, so it’s best to stay the course, especially if you don’t have disposable income to bounce back. 

In summary 

Staffing your gym means hiring for various roles. In the beginning, you might be the operational manager, the social media marketer, and the personal trainer all at the same time. But you’ll need experts for each role as your business grows. 

Hiring staff requires a carefully crafted job posting, in-depth assessments of the candidates’ expertise, and training before hiring them full-time. You can use gym management software to integrate your new hires into your day-to-day operations quickly. 

The software makes it easy for your customers and staff to schedule appointments, conduct online classes, and monitor progress, and much more.  

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Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

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