You are a new owner going through your check list of things to do for the opening of your new club, and the next box you come to is: Hire a personal trainer to oversee the personal training department. This can be a hard thing to do for a new club owner, as most have little experience on the personal training side of a health club.
So what’s important when hiring a personal trainer? Experience? Level of certifications? Appearance? Testimonials from current and former clients? Team player? Great attitude? Willingness to do sessions for free if needed? Business minded? These are all qualities your personal trainer should posses.
Experience: When hiring your personal training, the first question to ask, “How much experience have you had training and managing others?” As a new club owner, you will want someone with a proven track record. The first months of your club are critical in building a solid personal training program and you don’t want to take a chance on someone that has had little or no training and management experience. When bringing in an experienced trainer with a proven track record, they will have specific systems they have used in the past. One thing I like to ask of a future management level team member is to put together a business plan for how their specific department is going to run. If the plan they present to you makes sense. I would give them a few certain guidelines they will need to follow in the club and let them run with their department.
Level of Certification: This is a question that is posed a lot in the Health Club Industry. How important is a top level certification in the hiring of a new personal trainer. I think the answer to this question depends on the person you are interviewing. I have been around trainers with degrees in exercise science and a top level certification that couldn’t sell a glass of water to a burning man, but were an awesome trainer. I have also been around trainers with a lesser known certification, aren’t much of a trainer, but can sell training like it’s going out of style.
The leader of your personal training department needs to fit into both categories. They need to be good at selling and good at training. If I brought someone on my staff with a lower certification, but with a proven track record of results, I may, as part of the hiring process, require them to obtain a higher level of certification within 60 – 90 days of being brought onto the team. When a client asks about trainers, do they ask what certification they have, 90 percent of the public has no clue what the difference in a certification is, and quite frankly they really don’t care. The client is concerned about one thing, will this person that is selling me personal training be able to get me the results I am looking for.
I am big on continuing education for my staff. As a good trainer becomes more certified in specific areas, such as boot camps, youth fitness or kettle bell training, I may incentivize them by offering a bump in their commission split with certain bench marks they attain in their certifications. Having well rounded personal trainers will help you sell more personal training because you will have a wider variety of training programs to sell your new members.
Team Player: (T)together (E)everyone (A)achieves (M)more. Having a trainer that is a team player plays a huge part in the success of your health club. Your head trainer is a part of the management team of your health club. This person has to treat your business like it was their own. At times the head trainer maybe called upon to do some “free” sessions, whether they are introductory sessions, or a session that you gave a member to make them happy over something that happened in the club.
I have come to find that so many trainers these days, want a full book of clients, but aren’t willing do the dirty work to get those clients. A great trainer is one that is not afraid to work for free to build a relationship with a potential client. A great trainer, when not training will be working the floor of health club, offering to help members who maybe doing an exercise wrong. This trainer gets an opportunity to introduce him/herself to this member, and start a dialogue that could eventually turn into a personal training client. A trainer that sits on his or her butt in the office during prime time will ultimately fail as a personal trainer. A personal trainer has to prospect just like you have to prospect for your new club members.
Testimonials from current and former clients: A great trainer will keep a book of success stories from his clients. A great trainer will have before and after pictures of his clients. A great trainer will also have testimonials from his clients. A great trainer will also have some contact information for some of these clients that are willing to give him a reference. If a trainer comes in for a interview and claims he has helped people, but has now way to prove it, well to me it’s just hearsay.
Business Minded: As an owner of a new health club, you will need to bring someone on board that has a business mind. You want someone that knows that this is a business and it needs X amount of dollars to function every month, or it will not survive. Your head trainer has to take ownership of his or her department. They have to be able to make decisions based on what’s best for the club and not what another trainer may want.
Willingness to work: Professionalism and hard work are what separates the good trainers from the mediocre ones. I always encourage the trainers to work out at the club once a week during a peak time of the day. I want my members to see their trainers doing the things they preach to them. If they see them working hard, they know they are dedicated and likely to be very focused on getting clients results.
Great attitude: This is a key in any position, but even more of a factor for a leader in your club. Your staff will follow the attitude of its leaders. If the leaders come to work every day mad at something outside the club, that attitude is passed to the other staff. The person leading your personal training department has to leave everything at the door when they come through. There is nothing worse than having staff members with crappy attitudes. Remember, your members are coming to your club, because they want to get away from people’s attitudes. They are coming to your club to have a fun experience. How can that experience be fun for the member if people have a bad attitude that day? I would not be afraid to send someone home for the day if they can’t smile while at work.
In the end, a trainer must possess a combination of many qualities to be successful. Good luck in your search, and don’t forget that when you find your superstar, treat them like gold.
Learn more from Chris Batchelor at Fitness Marketing Group, full of Hiring Personal Trainers [http://www.gymmarketing.com/resources/philosophies/personal-training-in-a-health-club/] tips meant to help your fitness business become more profitable. Also be sure you check out Fitness Marketing Group Blog, the fitness industry’s most powerful Health Club Marketing [http://www.gymmarketing.com/blog/] resource center.