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Tips for Not Losing Trainers to ‘Greener Pastures’

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Derek Gallup, the executive vice president of fitness and operations at UFC GYM, discusses hidden risks trainers should keep in mind before “graduating” to other types of training — and what clubs can do to retain their talent.

Today there are more options than ever for people to choose for fulfilling their fitness needs, from low-price, fitness-only options, to large multipurpose fitness facilities, to specialized boutiques, to online virtual experiences.

Derek Gallup.

With all of those options for members, there are just as many different options for trainers to work with clients. As exciting as it sounds for trainers to dive into these different training options, there are also some hidden risks they may not realize before they embark on new endeavors. 

Trainers who get their start with fitness-only or multipurpose facilities sometimes feel like they need to “graduate” to another type of training, like a personal training studio, online training or both. Here are some of the things I hear from trainers who have gone out “on their own” and decided to come back.

  • “As clients dropped off, I had to go out in the community to find new clients, which was much harder than meeting new members/clients in the fitness centers.”
  • “I had to purchase my own insurance.” This was for both personal medical insurance, but also insurance to protect them from any liability in their business.
  • “I had to figure out how much I had to pay in taxes, and had not planned for that.”
  • “I had to become a marketer of my services out in the community.”
  • “For online, I had to build and maintain a website, keep building a social media presence, and keep adding value to clients whom I might not have ever met.”

So how can club operators combat this issue of trainers leaving for perceived greener pastures? Here are a few tips:

The Golden Rule: Treat your trainers the way you want to be treated. A mutual respect from club operator to their trainers is critically important.

Understand your trainers’ currency.

  • For some trainers, their currency is currency. Help them maximize their earning potential by providing them with new members and clients, and paying them to teach classes where they can meet members and potential clients.
  • Market them in your club through signage or services like that of UPshow.
  • For other trainers, their currency is education. Offer them opportunities for free education through reimbursement programs or hosting workshops in your club. Partners like PTA Global, PT On The Net, NASM and dotFIT offer great opportunities for education on training and nutrition.
  • For other trainers, their currency may be helping to make a difference in people’s lives. Help these trainers get in front of as many people as possible through weight loss challenges, classes, seminars and other opportunities.

Create career opportunities for trainers with Master Trainer Programs, with special benefits only for these trainers, and recognition. Create career paths for trainers who want to move into leadership roles in your organization.

Make it fun. When people are having fun at work, nothing will make them want to leave.  


Derek Gallup is the executive vice president of fitness and operations at UFC GYM.

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Rachel Zabonick

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

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