Steps to Build a High-Functioning Personal Training Team

Lindsey Canty is the fitness director at Healthworks Coolidge Corner, in Boston, MA, an environment focused on excellence and innovation, impacting the health and wellness of women. Here, she shares a how-to for creating a powerful personal training team.

Building and maintaining a successful personal training team starts with attracting the right candidate. By providing your team with effective tools to build a positive company culture, through team engagement and accountability, your retention will flourish. We will review best practices necessary to onboard personal trainers so they thrive in your clubs long term. Below are the steps to build and maintain a functioning personal training team.

The first step in developing a successful team is recruiting and hiring the right candidate for your company. To find top talent, seek out two types of candidates: passive and active. Your passive candidates are likely already employed and need an offer they can't refuse. These people may work in another industry but possess qualities needed to be a successful personal trainer. If you don’t already have one, hiring a recruiter to help you get candidates into your pipeline can be very helpful. Your hiring manager can seek these folks on social media or in their favorite local establishment with service employees. Within the industry, keep an eye out for members of your gym who already are fond of the space and know about your facility. It can also be helpful to take classes at other studios/clubs for networking opportunities.

How do you attract active candidates in the fitness industry? Create active accounts and post on pages like Indeed and LinkedIn, partner with local personal training schools/colleges, and certifying agencies. Most importantly- act fast! Top talent is usually only available for 10 days.

Let’s assume you just hired quality candidates: Congratulations! Is your hiring manager sitting down with new employees to make sure expectations are clear while signing documents on Day 1? Introduce new team members to your management team and their peers so they feel welcome and part of your community. Support them in getting to know the space and feeling comfortable working with clients on your floor.  Exceptional training starts with a structured system to support in building their business. Recognize the majority of new hires will not come in to your facility having a large lead pool. Whether they are new to the area or new to the industry, it is important to set them up with a structure that will support them financially as they work to grow their business. Exceptional training includes continuous in house workshops and trainings for new and veteran employees. What you cannot accommodate in club, consider bringing in external presenters to help trainers keep their skills sharp in a constantly evolving industry.

Sixty percent of companies are reportedly not setting any goals or milestones for new hires. You NEED systems to hold your team accountable in reaching their key performance indicators. Do you have a company expectation for generating appointments or staying present on the fitness floor? Set a standard for conversion and have a system to track it. Do you feel confident in your ability to support your team in their successes and challenges? Set recurring meetings in your calendars to overcome potential objections for upcoming appointments and to follow up with necessary leads. Provide trainers with a weekly action plan and empower them to track their own metrics. To hold trainers accountable, you must give your department leaders tools to track success as well. Consider what paid hours look like weekly and monthly for your trainers individually. Be sure you are tracking revenue and other reports to acknowledge wins and challenges. Conversion and retention should be measured regularly to avoid missing key opportunities to coach your team.

Review retention strategies, opportunities for professional growth, and continuing education to keep your employees happy. Instead of putting all your financial resources into recruiting, we need to focus on retaining our amazing talent. In the workplace, asking for feedback is an easy way to create positive culture. Are you conducting exit interviews to better understand why your employees are leaving and how you can improve? That’s great! But why not implement stay interviews. This allows you the opportunity to make changes with an unhappy employee before they leave your organization. It opens the door for feedback and improves company culture as a whole. If you want your fitness team to stay beyond 5, 10, and 15 years, provide them with growth opportunities. Make sure they have the opportunity to expand their employee benefits or earning potential. Provide potential education opportunities at the management level or to be a mentor within the fitness team. Leaders, you should be conducting career development reviews to know their current and future goals, so you know how you can best support your most valuable teammates. Outside the workplace, make time for fun! Go out for drinks as a team, sign up for a race or challenge together, or show off your competitive spirit with a company field day.

Implement strategies to expand your client base and boost sales. Track your booking and conversion percentage by providing managers with tools to stay organized weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Provide teams with lead lists to continue generating new opportunities and keeping your pipeline running. Collect information to see what promotions generated significant return and how you can improve for the next year. Ask for member feedback to coach your trainers and shout out their successes.

In closing, here are the steps you should be taking to build and maintain a successful team:
1.    Recruit and hire top talent with both passive and active candidates.
2.    Consider onboarding and training approaches that work well for your new team members.
3.    Acquire systems and best practices for managers to hold teams accountable.
4.    Understand what opportunities are important for your company to keep your employees happy.
5.    Decide what tools you want to implement to boost sales and expand your client base.

Upon graduating from Springfield College with a B.S in Applied Exercise Science, Lindsey has been working the last six years at Healthworks in Boston, MA, an environment focused on excellence and innovation, impacting the health and wellness of women. In her current role as Fitness Director, she is a senior leader in the club contributing to the club and companies’ overall success and strategy. Not only a positive influence in the club, she is also responsible for leading and coaching the club’s personal training, and teamTRAINING programs.