Personal Training: Why a Culture Fit is More Important Than Experience

personal training

Here at Gainesville Health and Fitness’ personal training department, GHF Training, we pride ourselves on helping our clients achieve their best life. This is not a slogan or a cliché for us. The mission statement for GHF Training is: “Through superior knowledge of exercise biomechanics, safety and nutrition we will motivate and challenge our clients to reach their highest level of fitness and wellbeing.”

When I began working in the field of personal training over 20 years ago, the role of the personal trainer and the department as a whole within the health club was not always clear. This is why a mission statement for your personal training department is important. It provides a clear direction for the program.

Team and culture fit are addressed first when hiring here at GHF Training, which is consistent with the philosophy of Gainesville Health and Fitness. In our three-stage interview process the first interview is focused on potential hires being the proper fit for our team and culture, before we begin to assess knowledge and skill level in the later interviews.

A highly credentialed personal trainer hire may not be a team fit, despite an impressive resume. As many of us have seen with sports teams and the like — talent does not always correlate with compatibility. Conversely, an aspiring personal trainer with minimum experience, but great potential with team and culture, may be a perfect fit.

The second interview focuses on the level of the potential hire’s knowledge. The third interview is a workout interview where a “client” with prescribed limitations is trained by the prospective hire to see how they apply this knowledge.

After hiring the right people it is important to make sure new personal trainers are put in a position to succeed within the department to help fulfill its mission. Familiarity is important with not only the policies and practices, but the training methodologies of that department. Our director of education, Matt Mallard, and other instructors on our GHF Training staff, take new hires through an initial 60 hours of orientation course work and role plays at GHF Training University so that they are prepared to work on our team. New hires are also partnered with a veteran trainer to be their mentor and continue helping them navigate their new work space.

Our goal at GHF Training at Gainesville Health and Fitness is for our personal trainers to be clear in their role and the role of our department. This clarity comes from the goal expressed in our mission statement. It is then followed through with a hiring process that brings in the right team/culture fits, who are then trained how to best challenge and motivate our clients to achieve their best life.

George Whitehead is the director of personal training at Gainesville Health and Fitness.

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