This article will explain the process you should follow to get the right person to work in your gym.

You’ll learn:

  • Why you need an employee
  • The type of employee you need
  • How to conduct an interview, and much more

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Hiring other trainers and staff for your gym

Introduction to hiring other trainers and staff for your gym

The right staff can add much to your new gym or personal training studio.

The wrong staff can make you dread going to work!

Learn how to avoid hiring mistakes and build the best team for your business. 

Here are eight steps to hiring trainers and staff for your gym or fitness studio. 

Ask Yourself – Do I NEED more staff?

Before you even think about hiring, make sure you can answer these three general questions: 

  1. Who do you need? What is the role you need to fill? 
  2. What can you afford? How much are you willing (and able) to pay for the right employee? 
  3. What type of employee do you want? Choices include part-time, full-time, casual, independent contractor, and intern. Do some research and decide which option is best for your business.  

Why? 

Because adding staff to your team can be expensive. 

Unless you hire an intern, you’ll need to pay your new team member, and even advertising for staff can cost you money. 

So, before hiring someone new, ask yourself this question: Do I REALLY need more staff? 

Signs that you may need to add more members to your team include: 

  • High employee turnover rate
  • Unreliable staff that need to be replaced 
  • Gaps in your team that have been empty for a while 
  • Any staff that have given the notice to leave 
  • Increase in inquiries or users 
  • Increase in unplanned overtime 
  • Plans for expansion or moving to larger premises 
  • Frequently falling short of performance goals
  • Falling behind on daily tasks 
  • Inability to take on clients
  • Need for specialized skills
  • You haven’t taken time off in months

If you can bear the cost and you can see the need for more staff, you are probably ready to start actively recruiting new team members. 

Write a detailed job description 

Hiring the right staff member starts with knowing what you want them to do for you.

There is no point in hiring a kick-ass part-time receptionist when you need a full-time personal trainer or a freelance group exercise instructor!

Create a detailed job description so that you can start looking for the best person to fill the role you have to offer.

Include everything you need your prospective employee to be able or willing to learn how to do. 

Also, specify the qualifications you want your new employee to have.

If you’re going to hire a trainer or group exercise instructor, make a list of the qualifications you are prepared to accept. 

How experienced should your new employee be?

Remember that more experienced employees usually expect higher salaries. 

Make sure your job description is inclusive.

Use neutral language to avoid breaching any diversity or equality laws. 

Once you’ve decided on what you need from a new employee, decide on the package you will offer in return.

Include the starting salary, performance bonuses, benefits, vacation time, and any other perks. 

With that done, specify when you want your new employee to start working for you and choose a closing date for applications. 

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Give yourself plenty of time to advertise the job and interview applicants.

And remember, your new employee may need to give notice at their current place of work, so don’t expect them to be able to start right away. 

Advertise the job

Now you know who you want to employ, it’s time to promote your job opening.

Options for advertising your job include: 

  1. Your company website 
  2. Referrals from current employees 
  3. Social media, including targeted advertising 
  4. Trade and industry associations and publications 
  5. Local community groups and business associations 
  6. Universities and training establishments 
  7. Job boards 
  8. Recruitment agencies 
  9. Newspapers
  10. Your members and customers 

Create your advert from your job description, ensuring you specify how you are prepared to accept applications.

Do you want resumes?

Will you accept email applicants?

Do you want to see evidence of qualifications? 

Remember to clearly state the application deadline and the date by which you want the new employee to start work. 

Advertising can take time and may even cost money, but rushing the process could mean you miss out on the perfect employee.

Worse still, you could end up with someone who isn’t right for your organization. 

Review the applications

After advertising your job, you should soon start receiving applications.

Review them as they come in and filter out any that don’t fit your requirements. 

Send a rejection letter or email to the candidates that aren’t right for your business.

Many employers don’t do this, but it’s good manners, and unsuccessful applicants will appreciate the gesture. 

Review the remaining applications carefully.

Check that they have the credentials and qualifications you want for the role.

Weed out any that slipped through your first screening to leave you with the best candidates for your company. 

Again, notify any unsuccessful applicants, thanking them for their interest. 

On paper, at least, any of the remaining candidates should be able to fill the role you offer.

They should have the qualifications and experience you want. If they don’t, reject them now! 

With the last few waifs and strays eliminated, you should now have a shortlist of prospective employees.

It’s time to move on to the interview stage of the recruitment process. 

Interviews

If you’ve done the application screening process correctly, you should be left with a shortlist of candidates that meet your exact criteria.

All that’s left to do is interview them and choose the right person for the job. 

The best way to do this is through a prearranged interview and a skill-based assessment for personal training or group exercise teacher roles. 

Video calls and phone interviews can work, but they are not ideal.

Technical problems like dropped calls and a bad connection can make this type of interview frustrating for both parties.

They can also feel impersonal. In most cases, face to face, in-person meetings are much better. 

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If it’s practical, make appointments to meet your prospective employees so you can get to know them better. 

Contact the candidates and book them in to see you at a mutually convenient time.

Give them plenty of notice so they can adjust their schedule to accommodate you. 

However, if a candidate seems inflexible or elusive, feel free to cut them from your list.

If they really want the job, they should be prepared to put themselves out at least a little to come and meet you. 

Plan your interviews in advance so that you have a format to follow and can use the same assessment criteria for all your candidates.

It wouldn’t be fair or useful to ask each candidate different questions. 

Good questions to ask include: 

  1. Tell me about yourself 
  2. What do you like to do outside of work? 
  3. What made you want to be a personal trainer? 
  4. Why do you want this job?
  5. Describe your fitness industry experience. 
  6. Tell me about career-related previous successes or achievements. 
  7. What are your best methods for keeping clients motivated? 
  8. Are you drawn toward a particular client demographic? 
  9. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? 
  10. What additional skills would you like to develop?
  11. What are your strengths and weaknesses? 
  12. How would you resolve a conflict with a client or a staff member? 
  13. What are your salary expectations? 
  14. How soon can you start if you are successful? 
  15. Do you have any questions for me? 

Also, note things like punctuality, presentation, confidence, friendliness, and any other traits you want from your prospective hire.

Ask other members of staff for their impressions too.

They may have seen things that you did not. 

If you will do a skill-based assessment, keep it relatively brief and only assess the candidate’s ability to do the advertised job.

For a personal trainer, ask them to demonstrate teaching 3-4 exercises of your choice.

For a group fitness instructor, 10-15 minutes of exercise should be sufficient. 

Throughout the interview, make sure you take notes to remember how each candidate performed.

The last thing you want to do is offer the job to the wrong person just because you mixed up two of the applicants!

Talk about awkward…

Wait until you have interviewed all the candidates to make a final decision.

That way, you can compare all the applicants side by side. 

Also, don’t feel you have to rush your decision.

You may even need to conduct a second round of interviews if you can’t decide between the remaining candidates. 

However, be aware that your applicant’s time is as valuable as yours, so don’t drag things out any longer than necessary.

If you have made your decision, forgo a second round of interviews and move on to giving the lucky person the good news. 

Hire Staff & Trainers for Your Gym - the [year] Guide 3
Hire Staff & Trainers for Your Gym - the [year] Guide 4

Check references

Before you offer your preferred candidate the job, make sure you contact their references and get another person’s opinion on their suitability for employment. 

Ask the candidate’s permission before speaking to their referees, especially if one of them is their current employer.

Ideally, the candidate should be able to provide you with the names of at least two referees. 

Referees should be current or recent acquaintances and not things like kindergarten teachers.

You want their impression of the adult the candidate is now and not the kid they once were. 

There is no need to give this person the third-degree about the applicant but do use them to confirm that the person you want to hire will be a good fit for your company.

Speak to them rather than email them.

That way, you can ask questions and get the conformations you need to ensure you hire the right person for the job. 

While you are at it, also contact the referees of the other top candidates, just in case your number one pick doesn’t work out. 

Make an offer

Once you have identified the best candidate, it’s time to offer them the job.

You can do this verbally, but it should also be backed with a written confirmation in which you lay out all the terms and conditions of employment. 

That way, neither party can claim ignorance over any detail that turns out to be important. 

If both parties are ready to move forward, draw up an employment contract, and have the candidate sign it before they start working for you.

This standard legal document is available online, but you can ask your lawyer to create one. 

Once your new employee has accepted your offer, make sure you notify the rejected candidates to let them know they were unsuccessful.

A personalized rejection over the phone is the best way to do this. 

If they were good candidates, offer constructive feedback if requested and keep their details on file in case another role arises. 

Handle your employment obligations

With your employee’s signature on the dotted line, it’s time to grasp all your legal obligations as an employer. 

This includes: 

  • Reporting your new hire to the relevant agency 
  • Adding them to your worker’s compensation and insurance policies 
  • Registering them for tax 
  • Putting them on your payroll system 
  • Organizing their uniform 
  • Competing an employee registration form
  • Organizing their company induction 

While doing these jobs might seem like things you want to put off for as long as possible, getting them done early is the right thing to do. 

After all, your new employee might be one of many, but to them, you are their only boss.

Treat them professionally from the outset; they are likelier to behave professionally toward you. 

Assess performance

Most new jobs begin with a probationary period, during which the employer and the employee can back out of the agreed contract without penalty.

A probationary period is pretty standard, allowing both parties time to determine their satisfaction and happiness. 

During the probationary period, employees should be assessed and given feedback on their performance.

The employer should keep records of all observations and feedback to ensure this process is conducted fairly. 

At the end of the agreed probationary period, the employee’s status should be upgraded, and you should tell them they are now a bonafide team member.

Alternatively, if things didn’t quite go as planned, you may need to extend the probationary period or even terminate the contract. 

Wrapping up

Finding, getting, and keeping good employees can be challenging, but if you get it right, the rewards for all parties will be huge. 

Getting a qualified staff member is usually quite straightforward, but finding someone you actually enjoy having on your team is sometimes harder. 

However, as time-consuming as finding the right person can be, it’ll be time well spent. 

If you like the people you work with, and they, in turn, like their jobs, going to work should be one of life’s pleasures.

But, if you’ve managed to cram a square peg into a round hole, a day at work can feel like a lifetime, and your profits could even suffer as a result. 

Take your time hiring new team members, and use this step-by-step guide to help you do it right.  

References:

  1. “Choose Your Business Name.” U.S. Small Business Administration, https://www.sba.gov/node/2764.
  2. National Fitness Trade Journal, https://www.nationalfitnesstradejournal.com/.
  3. “Structured Interviews: A Practical Guide.” U.S. Office of Personnel Management, https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/structured-interviews/guide.pdf.
  4. “Best Online Payroll Services.” Business.com, https://www.business.com/categories/online-payroll-services/.

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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