The continued education of your instructors and personal trainers is vital to a healthy and thriving business. And what’s a more convenient way for them to learn than from within your club? We explain how hosting continuing education courses (CECs) within your four walls can benefit your club, your personal trainers and instructors and most importantly, your members.
According to Lisa Groft, the group exercise director at Baptist East Milestone Wellness Center in Louisville, Kentucky, hosting CECs helps keep Baptist East on the cutting edge. “We’ll research hot topics or trending ones and bring educational courses on those items here,” she said. “We also ask our staff if there’s anything specific they’d like to learn about. The fitness industry changes daily, so it’s important to keep up with what’s going on.”
As a result of its emphasis on continued education, Maria Bernard, the co-director of fitness at Baptist East, believes the club has earned a reputation that’s appealing to instructors and personal trainers looking to be employed. “It helps us pick the cream of the crop, because Baptist East is seen as a place where you can have a career where your employers invest in you,” she said.
For Josh Fly, the director of personal training for The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City, visibility is a main benefit of hosting CECs as well. “What it mainly does is boost exposure,” he said. “It lets us share our space to people who may not see it who are plugged into the industry, such as instructors, local trainers and speakers, for example. It’s a great networking opportunity.”
Hosting CECs has also helped solidify current members’ trust in Chelsea Piers’ trainers, instructors and the club as a whole. “I’ve heard members say they love that we invest in our trainers and instructors,” said Fly. “They have more trust in their expertise as a result. The fitness industry is relatively new, so continuous learning will help keep us at the forefront. It sharpens our lens.”
According to Lynne Brick, the owner of Brick Bodies in Baltimore, Maryland, her clubs look for instructors and trainers who have a thirst for never-ending improvement. “We hire trainers and instructors who believe what we believe and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge,” she said.
The benefits of this, said Brick, are plentiful. “It helps provide accessible opportunities for our associates, which is always appreciated,” she said. “[And] it helps ensure that our associates are continuously improving their skills and knowledge, which translates to better overall customer service to our members.”
In addition, there’s also the possibility of boosting revenue, if you open up the workshops to outside trainers and instructors. “It depends on the workshop, the master trainer and overall purpose of the training,” explained Brick. “Some workshops we like to host strictly for our team. Others we host additionally for trainers or instructors in the area, in which case we charge a fee.”
However, Fly believes creating revenue from hosting CECs shouldn’t be the main goal. For Fly, providing an opportunity for Chelsea Piers’ trainers and instructors to learn is the main benefit. “My vision for our staff is, we want to give our trainers tools they can almost immediately use,” he said. “When we hire someone, they already have great credentials as a result of their existing certifications. So the workshops enhance that even more, and enhance the member experience.”
For example, Chelsea Piers recently hosted a continuing education course from Mad Dogg on KettleBell Concepts. “The KettleBell Concepts course was fantastic,” he said. “Our instructors felt like the sky had opened up in terms of what they learned they could do with a kettlebell.”
According to Bernard, she can see an almost immediate change in Baptist East’s instructors and trainers after a CEC has been hosted. “[CECs] lead to camaraderie for our team and better morale,” she said. “Afterwards, you can see a visible change.”
There are many benefits to hosting CECs at your club, and fortunately, it’s a fairly easy process. First, Fly suggested club owners look internally at their own staff for continuing education opportunities. “If clubs are hiring well, chances are they have people on staff that can teach something to their peers,” he said. “That’s great for team development and camaraderie.”
Or, clubs can look locally for continuing education partners. “Especially in New York City, we have very highly-qualified fitness business professionals nearby,” explained Fly. “You can get local speakers to come in or partner with a hospital. That can help build neighborhood alliances.”
Finally, national and international organizations such as TRX and Mad Dogg can be great partners for hosting CECs. “First, determine the content you would like your associates to receive,” explained Brick. “Next, contact major organizations like ACE and NASM to see if they offer the content. PT on the Net and IDEA are also great tools for researching and finding CEC content and providers. Finally, schedule it! The organizations listed above will help you through every step of the process.”
Invest in your personal trainers and instructors’ continued education, and you may see your business grow in every way. “Continuing education — it’s one of the best things any business can cultivate,” said Fly.
By Rachel Zabonick