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Ask an Expert In Print

Ask an Expert: Gretchen Collins on Personal Training

Gretchen Collins

You have questions, we have answers. This month we spoke with Gretchen Collins, director of fitness at East Bank Club, about personal training.

What drew you to the fitness profession? 

GC: I started playing sports at a young age and immediately fell in love with the camaraderie of being on a team. I also enjoy helping others. I always knew I wanted to do something in the sports and fitness field, and discovered that fitness and personal training would be the best profession to put the two things I loved together.

What strategies does East Bank Club use to introduce members to personal training and boost sales? 

GC: East Bank Club offers every new member a complimentary personal training session. This is crucial, as it gets the new member in front of a fitness professional who can develop the best program for them and help them become acquainted with the club. We also offer quarterly new member socials. We invite new members from the past few months to get together for drinks and appetizers and chat with various fitness managers. This gives us the chance to speak directly to the new members about personal training and other services.

As the industry evolves, do you think personal training will always have a place in most clubs? 

GC: Personal training is here to stay. There is no replacement for a well-educated, certified personal trainer who can develop a program specifically for any type of client. The bond that’s formed between trainer and client is an extremely strong bond of trust, care and dedication, and I don’t feel there are many other professions that can change a person’s life the way personal training can.

What impact has small group training had on East Bank’s training department? 

GC: It has grown significantly the past few years, and it has been a positive addition to our training department. We currently offer 15 to 20 small group classes a week. We have also seen an increase in groups of two to five clients training together privately with our trainers. Training in a small group fosters competition, yet also immediately provides members with a support system. Friendships form quickly and those friendships carry over outside the club. Small group training has also allowed us to work with more members overall, which is a huge plus, as more of our members are getting in front of qualified fitness professionals.

How do you attract quality trainers? 

GC: East Bank Club has a great reputation in the Chicagoland area and across the country, so we receive a multitude of applicants whenever we post a personal training position. We have strict hiring standards, and since we attract a large number of applicants, we can be picky and choose the best of the best. Our benefits package and ability to quickly get a trainer to full-time status is another key factor in attracting quality trainers. All trainers must have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or a related field, as well as one of the national personal training certifications. We are also an extremely supportive and encouraging team and we like to have fun. I think that’s key to attracting quality staff.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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