Having a staff full of trainers whom you trust goes a long way in the success of your health club. Building your staff to reach this pinnacle is a long and sometimes arduous process, but it is definitely worth the effort.
However, whether you like it or not, at some point you’re going to lose any employee you really liked, whether to retirement, an offer at another club, or any other myriad of reasons. Staff turnover is inevitable in most cases.
Losing one of your exceptional trainers or instructors can feel like a crushing blow, but one you should always be prepared for.
At Brick Bodies in Maryland, the future trainers and leaders of the club are molded into their roles before they even take on any leadership responsibilities.
“Our mentor program is called the Buddy System,” said Lynne Brick, the president of Brick Bodies Fitness. “We use this system for every department. I ‘creatively borrowed’ the concept when I was a shock trauma nurse.”
The Buddy System is Brick Bodies’ method for constantly developing new instructors into well-equipped and qualified Group X super stars.
“When a new group exercise associate is hired, many are assigned a ‘buddy’ who helps coach the new instructor how to deliver world-class group exercise experiences,” said Brick. “The buddy process involves weaning a new instructor from teaching one to two songs or tracks to teaching the entire class. This process may take a few days to a few months.”
After the mentor feels the trainee is ready, they connect with the facility’s Group X education director who “performs a formal assessment for final approval.”
Once the trainee passes the final assessment, the Group X education director approves the trainee taking on his or her own class.
This entire process ensures that future instructors are adequately prepared for teaching classes, and understand the vision and culture of Brick Bodies.
Implementing a similar system at your club should yield similar results. However, be sure to identify the right employees who will be mentored.
“He or she must share the vision and deliver the product,” said Brick. “He or she must show lots of eyes and teeth and have great stage presence. He or she [must be] very energetic and enthusiastic. And he or she has to have a great ability to hear the beat of the music and understand basic musical phrasing. We teach them all other skills to help each instructor discover their greatness, but the aforementioned traits are innate.”
It’s just as important to give a lot of thought to whom you pair the trainee with. They’ll only develop as well as they are taught by their mentor.
Brick Bodies has a specific yet simple method for pairing trainees and mentors.
“The Group X training leaders, education director and I meet every month and discuss who on the team is excelling and those who need more coaching or training,” said Brick. “Together, we determine the best ‘buddy’ candidates; those who exude the essence of each specific program and pair them up with those who need more coaching.”
From there, it’s all about how the culture of your gym can help the mentor mold the trainee into a quality Group X instructor. It’s important to help them understand what makes your club successful.
Executing the Buddy System encourages communication between seasoned Group X instructors and beginners in the industry, thus helping the trainee develop important skills and keep the mentor’s skills sharp through teaching.
A winning combination like that will mean more engaging classes and happier members.
“Each instructor who buddies another instructor improves their own communication and their teaching skills,” said Brick. “The Buddy System is a win-win-win-win for each mentee, the mentor, the program success and the member experience.”