Ask an Expert: Erin Carson on Managing Personal Training Departments

personal training

You have questions, we have answers. This month we spoke with the owner and operator at RallySport Boulder about managing a personal training department.

Is it important for clubs to develop leaders within their training departments?

EC: It is always important to develop leaders, but more important is to define what their intended career path is. Being a great leader doesn’t necessarily mean leading their peers and abandoning their roles as fitness professionals. Clients see their trainers as leaders, and we need to find value in each trainer’s ability and willingness to see themselves as leaders without taking on a fitness manager role.

How does RallySport develop leaders within its training department?

EC: At RallySport, leadership development begins Day 1 of joining my team. We speak of the importance of being educated, organized and charismatic to ensure clients feel they can truly rely on your leadership. The stronger the client, the stronger the personal trainer needs to be.

What characteristics do you look for in personal training managers and leaders?

EC: Maturity, confidence, humility and vision. A hard working individual never hurts either. We need to work non-traditional hours and days.

What are some best practices you can share for running a top-notch training department?

EC: I think the fitness manager should always be at the top of the list for successful personal trainers. In order to truly understand the market, they need to be actively in the market. The toughest part of our business is building a client base. What worked a year ago doesn’t necessarily work now.

How do you foster camaraderie among training staff?

EC: This is an interesting task. I have been able to help each individual recognize and nurture their own style and strength, as well as appreciate and support others without feeling intimidated or threatened. The fitness director being part of the team and actively working on the floor can help recognize both good and bad situations that may arise among the team.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

EC: Here’s the big news: Most personal trainers don’t want to open their own studios. If we pay a fair wage and allow them to be themselves and grow their businesses, they will work hard for a long time and help us with retention. When we pay them less than 60 percent of their hour rate, don’t allow them to raise their rates without a master’s degree, and nitpick their clothing choices, they are more likely to seek out other employment options. 

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