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Hiring for Your Gym? Build a Great Staff with These 4 Best Practices

Posted by Erin Borgerson on August 18, 2016



The trainers and staff you hire at your gym can make or break your success. It doesn’t matter how great your equipment and classes are if the employees on your team leave a bad impression with prospective and current members. The pressure is on to hire candidates who are superstars.


When you’re busy with the day-to-day business of running a gym, staffing practices can become an afterthought—a last-minute focus when they need to be a priority. As a result, many managers end up making poor hiring decisions. With the cost of a bad hire running as much as five times an employee’s salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, it’s time to give hiring the attention it deserves.


Four Ways to Build a Great Gym Team


Here are four best practices that can help any gym build a great team:


1) Know exactly what you need.

It all begins with being clear about your hiring needs. For starters, don’t automatically fill vacancies. Step back and think about what you need today and how that job opening might change in the future. For instance, potential expansion with another location next year might mean that an incoming manager needs to be ready to manage an even larger team at multiple gym locations. This can affect what you look for in candidates. Once you know what you need, put it down in writing in a detailed job description.


2) Concentrate on people skills.

Your employees make all the difference in recruiting and retaining gym members, having a huge impact on your monthly memberships and bottom line. If employees are impatient, rude, indifferent or lazy, it can create big problems with your members. While you certainly want candidates who meet the basic job qualifications, like knowing current fitness training standards or sales strategies, make sure you’re putting sufficient emphasis on their people skills, too.


Keep in mind that everyone employed at a gym plays a customer service role, from the janitor who answers a member’s question about where to find towels to the trainer helping members reach fitness goals. Consider using hiring software to screen candidates about customer service practices and ask plenty of scenario-based questions during interviews.


3) Test, test, test.


Once you think you’ve found great potential employees, don’t hesitate to ask them to prove their skills. For instance, fitness instructors should lead a mock class so you can get a sense of their style. Front desk candidates can serve in the role and respond to common situations. For someone looking to be a representative of your gym or wellness brand, it’s better to get a sense of their potential and fit during the interview process instead of after the hiring decision has been made.


4) Verify candidate backgrounds.


One of the most critical steps is verification. Make sure that the information you gained from your candidates during the screening process is the truth; don’t trust your own judgment alone. A CareerBuilder survey found that more than half (56 percent) of employers have caught lies on resumes. Conduct reference checks and pay for background checks to verify that employment records are correct, and that degrees and certifications were earned. This is especially true for the fitness and wellness industry, where employees are not only working with members’ billing details, but may also be placing them in physical danger if they’re embellishing certifications or education background. 


Want more advice on getting great employees?


For more information on making smarter employment decisions, download our free guide below! 

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Erin Borgerson

About the Author

Erin is the Director of Marketing, Crisis Controller and Culture Ambassador (the last two titles she gave to herself) who joined the Hireology team in April of 2012. As a certified Inbound Marketer, Erin manages Hireology's marketing department, the Hireology Blog, and media relations. She is also a co-leader of the Chicago Hubspot User Group which brings together Hubspot users from around the Chicagoland area. Erin set off to Chicago after graduating from Western Michigan University. In her spare time she can be found shaking it in a Zumba class, reading a bestseller, or drinking a craft beer on her Wrigleyville porch.