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How to Recruit A-Player Trainers and Coaches

Mike Arce

Mike Arce

The most successful fitness studio owners know their trainers and coaches are just as important a part of the business as their members. With a great team in place at your studio, you can then step back and focus on growing your business. This means that your staff are the ones to interact with your members day in and day out; they need to exhibit traits you want to represent your fitness business.

After working with 200+ fitness studios, interviewing 100+ fitness professionals, and being voted “Best Place to Work” in Phoenix, we’ve had the opportunity to learn how to hire a team of A-players. Read on for our best tips …

1. Build a great culture

Invest in your employees both professionally and personally. This means not only do you outfit them with branded gear (like shirts and water bottles) to use in and out of the studio and pay for seminars and courses to continue their fitness education … but you also take the time to learn about what they have going on in their lives outside of work.I check in with my employees through one-on-one meetings once a week. We talk about their personal goals, projects, hobbies, and relationships. We’ll grab a coffee from the Starbucks next door or take a quick walk around the building.

During this time, my only focus is to catch up with them on non-work topics. They realize I care about them as more than just someone who works at the company … and in turn, they see more value in the business than just a paycheck.

This practice helped build a culture at Loud Rumor that was recognized last year with the 2016 Best Place to Work award and this year with the BBB Torch Award for Ethics. This set the tone of our work environment when new people applied to work with us.

Learn more ways that a great company culture can grow your bottom line in Episode 039 of The GSD Show:


How to Recruit A-Player Trainers and Coaches

2. Identify “Must-Haves” For This Role

This may sound a little obvious, but before you hire a trainer or coach you need to know exactly what you’re looking for and what criteria they need to meet.

Consider what your members’ and current staff’s needs are. Do your cycling classes always have a waiting list? You might want to look for another spin instructor. Is your front desk team overwhelmed with phone calls and new leads? You may need someone who’s devoted just to converting those leads into members – by now you probably know how lengthy the follow up process can be.

You should also consider where you want to grow your business. If you’re considering adding barre classes at your yoga studio, find someone with the proper certifications and experience.

Or maybe you want to add a nutrition program as a way to upsell your current members. If so, you may need to add a registered dietitian to your staff. If nutrition is something you’re interested in incorporating, learn from our 3 nutrition pros in this episode (and grab their free swipe):

How to Recruit A-Player Trainers and Coaches

3. Set performance measurement criteria

Once you know what you want in a trainer or coach, decide how you’ll measure their performance. Identifying these KPIs (key performance indicators) differentiates your A-players from B-players.

Those metrics probably look a little different for each studio, but here are some things you may choose to measure them by:

  • Number of classes taught per month
  • Average number of people in each class
  • Number of new training clients per month
  • Number of upsells each month (nutrition programs, personal training, etc)
  • And more

Be sure to go over these expectations in the interview process and again when onboarding (this makes them 69% more likely to stay with your fitness studio for 3 years).

4. Put Them On the Floor

What’s the first thing you do when you bring someone in for an interview?

The most successful fitness studio owners approach this step more like an audition than an interview. If you really want to see how they’ll do the job, get them on the floor. Have them lead a class or one of your members through a session.

Gauge how well they connect with your members and vice versa. Consider the techniques they use as well as the correction and advice they provide. Make sure your potentials trainers put in 100% work during the interview process that sets the tone for the rest of their career with your business. If a coach or trainer doesn’t meet or exceed your standards before Day 1, you may spend their entire time at your studio fighting to break bad habits and poor teaching techniques. So ask yourself, “Does this match my vision for the future of my fitness studio?”

5. Ask the Tough Questions

Once your potential trainer shows themselves capable of teaching to your standards,  ask them the right questions. Here’s what I mean by “right” vs “wrong” questions … Chances are you’ve experienced some of these yourself during an interview:

  • How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
  • What’s your greatest strength/weakness?
  • Are you a team player?

These questions all leave the door wide open for answers that make the candidate look like a great person but doesn’t show how they work. Here are some better alternative questions to ask:

  • How did you bring value to the last studio where you trained? Give me metrics.
  • Tell me about a time when you set difficult goals. How did you achieve them?
  • Tell me about a previous boss or professor that you didn’t like, and explain why. (Gauge their reaction here and whether they blame the professor or boss without taking accountability)

Notice that these questions all ask for specific examples that demonstrate how the interviewee operates in high-pressure situations and with other people. They’re also all open-ended, which means you’ll get more information than just a yes or no response.

It’s also helpful to have them take a personality assessment to get a clearer picture of how they work, how they prefer to be led, and how they prefer to communicate. Here at Loud Rumor, we use the DISC assessment, which measures levels of dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance.

Are there other recruiting and hiring strategies you’ve used at your fitness studio with great results? Send them our way, and let us know which of these strategies you implement!