How to retain good personal trainers in your gym

There are a number of qualities that set a good personal trainer apart from an average one. They work with every client to help them set (and achieve!) realistic fitness goals, they take a genuine interest in helping their clients succeed, and they offer them all the support and advice they need to do so.  Put simply, they love what they do.

With all that in mind, it’s not hard to guess which type of personal trainer most people want to have!

From helping you retain your existing clients, to attracting new members due to their great reputation, there are countless benefits to ensuring your gym or fitness club has the best calibre of fitness trainers on hand. This is because the best personal trainers don’t just help their clients achieve the results they want; they also build a relationship with them. This means that even after they’ve achieved their goals, many people will want to uphold this relationship as they work to retain their fitness level, or even set new goals completely.

However, getting the best PTs in your area to work at your gym can be quite a competitive business. So, when you’ve found a good one, you’ll want to be doing all you can to prevent them from jumping ship after a few months or years, and possibly taking their clients (a.k.a. your members) with them.

Fortunately, knowing how to retain good personal trainers doesn’t have to be rocket science! To keep them as happy as possible when working with your gym or fitness club, check out our top tips below…

Get the basics right

This rule applies to great members of staff working in any industry, and not just personal trainers; get the basics (such as pay and holidays) right from the get-go, and they’ll be far more likely to be satisfied. This means that you should have no problem retaining your best personal trainers for years to come!

To ensure your pay is competitive, do your research. Whether your personal trainers are freelance or employed by your gym or fitness club directly, you’ll need to try to determine the average ‘going rate’ in your area. However, as well as just finding out what your competitors are offering by scouring their job ads, you should also ask your potential new hires what they were earning from the previous clubs they’ve worked for. If you can afford to offer slightly more than this, that’s great! If not, however, you should shout about any additional benefits you can provide, such as bonuses, high holiday allowances, and access to training courses and opportunities for development.

However, providing regular training can be argued to be one of the most vital benefits to offer to your staff as research from 2016 found that of those surveyed, 63% of employees said that a lack of career development would be enough to make them consider moving to a new job. If you, as the gym owner, can offer to pay for this, you can also set an ‘earn out’ period of 12 months (for example), as a way to help ensure that your personal trainers don’t jump ship too soon.

Trust in them, as Kaylyn Jeffrey from mentions, “giving an employee responsibility without creative restriction means you are indirectly telling them, ‘I trust you’. Trust is the most important part of building and maintaining a relationship and a healthy work culture.”

In terms of annual leave, you should also try to ensure that there’s adequate cover if your trainers are unwell or want to take a holiday. This helps to keep your employees happy, and lowers the chance of you losing revenue due to cancelled classes!

Attract a high calibre of  gym clients

Any good personal trainer enjoys a challenge, and will be more than happy to rise to one. They’ll thrive off helping their clients make progress, as this will no doubt be a great morale booster. With the nature of a personal trainer’s job being very results-driven, ensuring your gym attracts a high calibre of clients for them to work with is one of the best ways to keep them motivated and satisfied.

So, how can you ensure you attract a high calibre of people to your fitness club? For starters, seasoned gymgoers are going to be more than familiar with basic gym equipment, so you should invest in some of the latest high-quality equipment to stand out above your competitors. This won’t just help you to attract new members, however; personal trainers enjoy working with the latest equipment as this will allow them to assign more varied workout routines to their clients, as well as gain experience of using a range of different workout equipment. This will enable them to progress as trainers, and make them more likely to stay with your gym or fitness club.

When it comes to encouraging new membership sign-ups, you should also be offering a varied range of fitness classes to suit all fitness levels. This won’t just attract more potential members to your gym; offering more specialist classes (as well as those for beginners) will also encourage more serious fitness buffs to consider joining, and they’ll be great clients for your PTs to coach.

Build a community

“Provide value for the trainers and the clients by creating a community. A strong community provides support for the trainers and clients and keeps them invested. You can participate in challenges or fundraisers together to boost the sense of community in your gym”, courtesy of Simon Fox, Founder of Fitness Mentors

Mel Tempest a successful fitness business influencer and a health club owner proffers invaluable advice: “As a club owner you need to contribute to ongoing education. We send our team to national fitness events where they can upskill and meet with their peers. Our team also receive bonuses throughout the year, such as clothing, supplements and music vouchers. We have simple policies and procedures in place including social media. We find by running a flat management system (meaning each person regardless of qualification is treated equal that our club) runs smoothly and everybody knows they are on equal footing. Our trainers come in all shapes and sizes, we have instilled into them that our club is a place to lay a foundation, learn their craft and when their ready to move on to better opportunities. In saying that though, we have some long-term trainers. So, in short invest in your team both financially and mentally. Take time to know them, their family and their goals.”

Rebekah Smith, Co-Founder of Smith and Wellness, says: “Before you can solve a problem, you need to know what the problem is. Unfortunately, personal trainers leave their gyms (and sometimes the fitness industry altogether) for several reasons which are poorly understood by most people, including gym owners.

“The highly competitive and almost saturated marketplace means personal trainers are battling to make a name for themselves or carve out a niche in the industry. Their survival depends on how well they connect with people, and the most successful trainers are those who are emotionally intelligent, are good rapport builders, and understand their own mindset as well as that of their clients. Personal trainers and gym staff are not educated or equipped to work with the human psyche, and this is the ultimate downfall for owners, trainers and clients alike. If there was a greater emphasis on understanding the psychology around exercise and human connection in a gym environment, our fitness centres would retain more staff AND more clientele.”

Ask them for feedback!

Finally, as a gym owner, how are you meant to know where you need to improve if you don’t ask your employees for feedback? The numbers may show that you’re doing a good job, but improvements can always be made. With there being so many things to care about when running your own gym or fitness club, it can be hard to take a step back and identify where you’re going wrong in an objective manner. Plus, with your employees being the people you want to please, it makes sense to ask them what they want from you as an employer.

The best way, however, to get valuable feedback from your personal trainers and other employees is to make it as easy as possible to do so. Submit anonymous surveys that can be completed in just a few minutes, or put a suggestion box in the staff room to encourage as much honest feedback as possible.

Just remember; the important thing is that you acknowledge their feedback, whether it’s good or not-so-good, and that you implement their suggestions (within reason). It might seem simple, but it shows your employees that their opinions and feelings are valued by you, which is essential for ensuring you have a happy and motivated workforce (and that your great personal trainers won’t want to jump ship anytime soon).

Founder and Personal Trainer, Jake Moller from Mace Fitness, says: “As a gym owner and trainer, I always look to improve both myself, my gym and trainers and I believe in communication and giving each other feedback. The fitness industry is in constant change and there’s always new innovative training methods and equipment that can be implemented. We can all learn certain things from each other and together grow as a team.

“But above all things, put yourself in their shoes. We’ve all started somewhere, and I worked at various gyms for ten years before I opened by own, so always be kind to your trainers, lead by example, and show them how much you do care about their progress.”

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