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The Hiring Conundrum, Solved


Hiring tips. The New Year marks the seasonal up-trend of new and returning gym members eager to make good on a resolution to be healthier in 2015. While losing weight ranks high for most people, the chance to gain new members and retain them for life should be at the top of every club owner’s list.

This annual post-holiday timeframe signifies the highest return per member and this year, group personal training services will be the key to any club’s success. Therefore, it’s critical that your trainers are prepared to make a good and lasting impression, because bad trainers will frustrate and deter members, causing you to also lose future referrals.

How do you prevent this from happening? Hire the best professionals to lead group personal training. I classify great professionals into two groups: teachers/instructors and leaders/servants.

Teachers/Instructors: It’s imperative that you employ trainers who are effective motivators and can maintain and properly supervise large groups with various fitness levels at one time. They’re not necessarily the fittest or always the most credentialed trainers, but they’re safety oriented and consumer savvy. They engage their members on a personal and educational level so that the clients are motivated to return and invite their friends and family to join.

Leaders/Servants: These individuals put the health and welfare of the group above their own needs. At one time, we’ve all experienced a trainer who seemed only concerned with his or her physical appearance or pocketbook. Leaders/servants, on the other hand, sacrifice their time and energy to ensure their group members are successful and satisfied. They never brag about personal successes, but they build up participants and encourage them to attain their goals. They serve as a mentor and an example for other trainers and employees to emulate.

When searching for these professional types, here are some tips to help identify the right fit for your organization, depending on the candidate’s range of experience.

Ages 18 to 21: Many trainers in this age range may have the qualities you’re seeking. Make certain your trainer is properly certified and that your gym clientele responds well to younger trainers. Observe their sessions, but be sure to give your trainers the proper authority to run a class so you can evaluate their confidence, knowledge and leadership qualities.

Over 40: Experience is extremely valuable. In fact, it’s important that you consider the bigger picture. Maybe they weren’t always employed in the fitness industry, but perhaps were previously college athletes, or served in the military and were in charge of personal training. These instructors probably honed their interpersonal and leadership skills in a variety of professional settings. This level of expertise could be instrumental in successfully motivating a crowd.

Over 60: Clients want to build trust and rapport with their trainers, so those employees who provide life wisdom and unmatched experience will serve clients well. These trainers can inspire the crowd through tried-and-true tactics. They’re observant and can showcase “alternative” movements, while also demonstrating and monitoring skilled participants as they do “intense” movements. As you kickoff 2015, it’s vitally important for your club to hire outstanding trainers who embrace their roles as motivators and leaders. They must understand the overall need to deliver successful group personal training sessions consistently in order to promote a healthy bottom line for the club.


Jenny D. Johnson, MS, is a NASM CPT, USA BCAP I and 20-plus year fitness professional who is currently an assistant professor at American Public University System in the Sports and Health Science Department. She may be contacted at jenny.johnson@mycampus.apus.edu.

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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