A successful personal training department provides a great source of revenue as well as a steady stream of happy, healthy members. “The personal training department is the heart and soul of who we are,” said Todd Durkin, the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, Calif., the head of the Under Armour Performance Training Council and the author of “The Impact! Body Plan.” “It is the culture we have established along with a highly motivated and educated staff that makes us so successful.” Personal training is 60 percent of Fitness Quest 10’s business.
Fitness Quest 10 has developed a system for clients that are interested in training to meet for a free consultation to review goals, specific health needs and availability. Recommendations on trainers are then based on the fit and availability of each individual member. Initially, members train with two trainers that are available and could be a potential fit.
“Members may connect with one better than the other,” explained Durkin. “We promote being a team so there is no competition for clients — and now the member knows another trainer. The client doesn’t feel the need to cancel if they can’t work with their trainer because they know more than one trainer. Our trainers introduce the other trainers to members. It’s part of their responsibility to get their clients covered by other trainers and this works extremely well for our system.”
Urban Active utilizes members’ results to garner interest from other members. “We continually have testimonial boards, banners, commercials and social media showing off the face of our client,” said Josh Bowen, the quality control director of personal training for Urban Active. “Nothing sells personal training better than real life client results. Also, the visibility of your trainers is key as well. Make your trainers seen and heard in your facility. We have dynamic training areas where our trainers take our clients and have them do functional, creative workouts that are eye catching.”
Derek Gallup, director of personal training for Crunch Fitness, described his company’s success in terms of the 5 P’s: people, product, price, pay, processes. Gallup explained, as part of a service business, people are the most important part — hiring the right staff is key. The product, be it training packages, small group training or nutrition, needs to be brought to life, Gallup continued. Price and pay are very closely linked. Price, being that Crunch’s products are priced competitively for the market, and pay is able to be competitive as well to bring in the best talent. Processes involve tracking the process of members. Each month a summary is written up as to how a member is doing and how they’re progressing. Managers at Crunch Fitness discuss summaries with trainers and talk about clients that are finishing up, or may have recently finished sessions and may like to re-up their training.
Bowen travels around to the different Urban Active locations, and he is always looking at the presence of the trainers on the floor. “I want to see what a member sees when they walk in the gym and as they walk around our facility,” said Bowen. “Do the clubs have a great vibe, and is it high energy? I want to make sure before I leave that I feel we are giving the best possible service with the best product in the industry.”
Trainers at Fitness Quest 10 are held to a high standard of professionalism. Durkin instructs trainers to work on positive body language, be clean cut, dressed properly and authentic. There is no eating or drinking on the floor, ever. “If they’re not a great coach, they’re going to get feedback,” he said. “I tell my trainers, your eyes should always be on your client. It doesn’t do anyone any good not to be professional, it devalues the product.”
Durkin strives to follow Walt Disney’s example that “everything speaks.” Everything inside the club speaks to a member. “We do everything we can to thrive at world-class levels and there’s a constant drive to improve,” said Durkin. “When you put good people in that environment, they rise up and fill that, or they don’t have the capability.”
Inside every Crunch Fitness is a “bio board” for members to learn about trainers, their backgrounds and education, as well as their interests. Once members become familiar with the different trainers, they will begin to watch the trainer they are interested in working with, as the trainer interacts with other clients. “I tell my trainers, ‘when you come to the gym, you’ve got to be on. You’re being watched by everyone in the gym and you need to be on,’” said Gallup. “I want our trainers to know members’ names. I want Crunch to feel like Cheers. You get a feeling of warmth and encouragement.”
Crunch also has trainers that are on the floor for non-session hours. There is a budget for the month for non-session hours and the personal training manager helps set the number of hours that will be utilized for non-session training. Trainers that work 40 hours a week mainly fill up their schedule with clients and referrals. However, other trainers see non-session time as valuable because it’s a great way to meet other clients in the gym and foster a good presence on the floor. The staff utilizes Google Calendars to keep their schedule and to find replacements for their appointments.
Personal training managers help set the example for the other trainers. “I’m a big fan of personal training managers leading from the front line,” said Gallup. “They probably do about 40 sessions a month. The best way to teach and train new trainers is saying ‘here are my expectations’ and then showing them.”
The best teams are trained to interact with the membership team as well as members. Crunch trainers sometimes do small group training with the membership team so that they can become a product of the product and help the membership team understand the strengths of training.
Trainers at Fitness Quest 10 are encouraged to keep in professional contact with members. “We encourage our staff to motivate and assist, to inspire their clients with motivational and education information,” said Durkin. Trainers interface with members via text, e-mail and homework assignments.
With Crunch being recognized for dynamic group fitness, Gallup strived to make the personal training department well known when he started. The trainers work with fun modalities, in addition to nutrition, to get their member results using kettlebells, plyometric boxes, battling ropes and PurMotion pieces. Members at Crunch Fitness who utilize the dotFIT nutrition program can stay in contact with their trainers using the program. Gallup explained that trainers check in on their clients’ nutritional information that they have supplied and can offer encouragement and tips through the program, which helps trainers deepen their relationship with their client.
“Personal training will always be about motivation, and we have to keep our clients motivated, not only for the 30 minutes of one-on-one attention, but also the 23 hours they are not with us. Text messages, e-mails, random phone calls, are all a part of the protocol to help our clients achieve their goals,” said Bowen. “Outside [the gym walls] is sometimes more important than inside. Clients need to know they can come to their trainer for anything.” -CS
By Ali Cicerchi