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Having talented Group X instructors is a must for any successful club, as they can help retain current members and help attract new clients.
But how do you attract and keep Group X talent? According to Janet Warner, the executive director of group fitness at The Alaska Club, it all starts with having a well-known and desirable brand. “Our studios and facilities are top-notch, and our classes are very well attended, which creates a vibe and energy that attracts fitness professionals,” she said. “Group X instructors moving to the area seek us out and let us know when they’re coming.”
Marc Santa Maria, the national director of group fitness at Crunch, agreed with this sentiment. Crunch is one of the most well-known brands in the industry when it comes to Group X, and the company capitalizes on this reputation, setting a tone of teamwork and fun. “We know we’re in the limelight for people wanting to work for us,” he said. “We want to set the tone that it’s a great place to work, and a fun environment where connection is at the forefront.”
However, just because your brand is well-known, that doesn’t mean you can just hire instructors and then set them loose. Ensuring they are onboarded correctly is a key to ensuring their success.
Santa Maria explained that Crunch’s onboarding process includes education on the culture and history of the brand, along with stories and other materials to inspire new instructors to be a part of the team. “Part of that involves the final paperwork and the other part of it is really just providing them with the tools to become successful and get [on the schedule],” explained Santa Maria. “Because, more times than not, it’s not a permanent class they’ll be teaching right away — they’re coming on as a sub and as a new hire. So we try to set them up so they’re not daunted by the question, ‘How do I get work?’”
At The Alaska Club, education is a continuous process, even beyond an instructor’s initial onboarding. “Instructors are lifelong learners,” said Warner. “We provide IDEA to all of our employees, which means they have access to hundreds of workshops, articles and CECs on a variety of fitness topics — and at no cost to the employee.”
Another key to retaining instructors is giving them creative freedom. “Teaching group fitness is a creative outlet,” added Warner. “Starting with the class design and the playlist, and then putting it all together in the class presentation, is very satisfying and very rewarding for the instructor.”
Santa Maria agreed that it’s important to honor creativity. “We make sure to honor creativity and what they’re passionate about, so if they have a particular workout or style of training, we want their individuality to be expressed — and it’s honored here. And, if there’s something they’re interested in as far as exploring leadership and fitness wise, we want to let them know this is the place to explore it.”
One of the challenges with retaining instructors is the fact that usually, they’re part-time employees. As a result, keeping consistent and open communication will ensure they feel a part of the team, even if they don’t work a full 40 hours per week.
“Instructors are part time, and thus it can be more difficult to spend a large quantity of time with them,” said Warner. “Therefore, ensuring there is some quality time is key to keeping instructors integrated in the overall mission of the group fitness department. Sometimes the communication is job specific — setting up a practice or evaluating their class — and other times, it’s simply connecting to say hi.”
Plus, ensuring part-time instructors know the ins and outs of the club can also go a long way with retention. “Just setting up the logistics — stereos, how they work, where you get microphones — these are small details that add up to be big things that really help them teach a really great class,” said Santa Maria.