Your gym staff, your people, are key to the success of your fitness business. You need to find, hire, and retain the right team. How do you do this? Let’s take a look!
What makes a gym successful? There are a lot of factors at play. The right location? Sure. The right classes and equipment? Of course. And then there’s people. If you want your gym to succeed, you need to hire gym staff. Finding, hiring, and retaining the best people is essential.
Members expect a lot from your gym – classes, equipment, value for money. And they expect a lot from your team too. Members want to feel supported by your gym staff, and they want to know that support is always on hand. In all, members want to build lasting relationships with your team. Retaining the right team can be key to retaining members.
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Hiring gym staff when you are opening a new gym
If you’re starting from scratch with no existing staff in place, then putting a team together should be near the top of your to-do list.
When you’re working out the cost of opening a gym, you have to account for staff hiring costs.
Start by considering which roles you need to create and fill. The exact positions will depend on the type of fitness club you are opening and your business model. For example, if you’re opening a gym with a big emphasis on personal training, you’ll need plenty of personal trainers. And it will also depend on your own skillset.
You’ll likely be responsible for many of the day-to-day tasks in your gym when you first open. So, your first hires should be people who can take on tasks you can’t – or don’t want to – carry out.
Identifying key roles
The first thing to do is outline the roles you need to fill straight away. These are the people your gym couldn’t run without, and they should be your priority hires. They may include:
- Admin and reception staff: If you’re out there leading classes or on the gym floor, you need someone to work the front desk and keep on top of the paperwork
- Sales: Your new gym needs members if it’s going to start making money. A dedicated sales role makes attracting and retaining those members someone’s specific job
- Instructors and personal trainers: Sooner or later, you’ll need instructors and trainers. They’ll run group fitness classes that your members will love. Provide personal training services that help members get the results they crave And make sure your members are engaged and satisfied. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need one trainer for every 25 people in your gym at any one time
- Cleaning and maintenance staff: There’s no quicker way to lose members than subjecting them to a dirty environment. If you don’t want to spend all day cleaning, you need someone who will
- Solid all-rounders: When you open a new gym, money can be tight. Dual staff roles can stretch your salary budget further
The exact makeup of your team will depend on the type of gym you’re running. So, make a note of what needs to be done, and the type of gym staff you need to hire to make sure every task is completed.
Also, think about whether you want to hire full-time, part-time, or freelance team members for each role. Particularly as you start out, working with freelancers in certain roles can give you more flexibility.
You will need to make sure you follow the law on discrimination when advertising, interviewing, and selecting new team members. Take care not to disadvantage any applicant because of any protected characteristic. Read more here.
Creating job descriptions
Now you know who you want to hire, it’s time to work out how to appeal to them. To show them why working at your gym is a good career move, you’ll need to create the right job description for each role.
A good job description includes:
- The job title: New hires often search by role. If you want to hire an instructor, then tell instructors you’re looking for them
- Responsibilities: Hires for your gym need to know how they’ll be expected to contribute to your business
- Qualifications, experience, and competencies: Maybe you need someone with a relevant qualification. Or perhaps you need someone who’s run a reception desk before. Maybe you want someone that’s familiar with gym CRM Let them know
- Soft skills: In any customer-facing role, soft skills are crucial. Your members need to get on with your gym staff, so look for people with strong empathy and communication skills. Teamwork and problem solving are also key
- Personality: You want to create the right culture at your gym. And that means hiring gym staff who are positive and passionate about what they do. Considering cultural fit can also help keep your team happy for the long-term with the right mix of personalities
The final thing to consider when writing your job description is salary. And that’s something we’ll discuss in a little more depth.
Setting the right salary for your gym staff
The fitness and wellbeing industry has always attracted incredible individuals. People who are passionate about sharing their love for fitness to help others. Yet, with salaries typically lower than in other industries, many cannot afford to stay in roles long. So, gym staff retention is tough.
Setting the right salary for a specific role is always a trade-off. You’ll have to work within your budget. But when 53.3% of UK workers say “making more money” is the main factor in a job search, you can’t afford to offer wages below the market rate.
Salaries fluctuate around the UK, with people in London asking for – and earning – more. Rates of pay are typically higher where cost of living is high. And if you want to hire team members with extensive experience and specific qualifications you can expect to pay more.
As a rule of thumb, here’s how much potential new hires might expect to earn:
Average UK salaries for gym staff
If the wages you offer are far below these market rates, you’ll struggle to attract (and retain) the best talent.
Searching for the right talent
Now you know who you’re looking for, the roles you’re offering, and the salaries you’re paying, So, it’s time to go out and look for gym staff to hire.
While you could place adverts in the local job centre and the careers pages of your local newspaper, hiring the best staff means casting a wider net.
First of all, use your own network of contacts. Maybe you know someone who’d be a good fit from a previous role. Or have a former colleague who’d jump at the chance to work with you again. Use your network too by asking for recommendations.
Social media is also an option. 92% of companies are using social media to find new hires. So, post your job adverts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other platforms, to attract on potential candidates.
You can also use fitness specific job boards, such as LeisureJobs and Leisure Opportunities, to find potential new hires. If you have budget you could also work with a recruitment agency who specialise in fitness roles, for example Love Recruitment.
For many roles, especially personal trainer and fitness instructor ones, it’s not uncommon to get 100s of candidates apply for a role. So, you’ll need to set aside enough time to review CVs and create a shortlist of top candidates.
The interview process
Once you have a short list of candidates it’s time to start the interview process. Typically, interviews will follow a simple four step process. This will help you to make sure you’re hiring the right gym staff.
Save everyone some time and set up pre-screening calls with candidates who look like a good fit. Speak to each candidate, understand their skills a little more, and get a feel for their personality. Often, you’ll spot whether they’re a good fit.
Interview and skills test
Invite your screened candidates for a face-to-face interview. Take the opportunity to test relevant skills to see if they should be able to succeed in the role.
After the interviews, make a shortlist of candidates you would like to hire. Organise any second-round interviews if needed. Then, follow-up with them to make sure they’re available for work, discuss any notice periods and finalise a salary.
When you’ve made a choice, offer your chosen candidate the job. You can do this verbally and then follow-up in writing to make sure everything is clear.
You will need to confirm their right to work in the UK. And provide a job offer letter that includes:
- The job title
- Confirmation of the job offer
- Details of any conditions of the offer (for example, do you need suitable references or DBS checks?)
- Terms of employment (covering salary, hours, benefits, pension arrangements, holiday entitlements and location)
- Start date and probationary period
- What they should do to accept (or decline) the offer
- How to get in contact with any questions
You should also ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance in writing.
Tip: Take the time to follow up with unsuccessful candidates. Provide constructive feedback where appropriate. While these candidates may not have been successful this time round, they may be in the future, and they may also be prospective members. Investing in positive follow up will be worthwhile in the long term to create the right impression of your new fitness business.
Hiring as you grow
Hiring gym staff isn’t a one-off process. It’s something you’ll need to repeat time and time again as your business grows and expands. Typically, you’ll need to hire staff when:
- Member numbers increase and you need new trainers, instructors or other team members to meet demand
- Existing team members move on to new roles
- You launch new services that require specific skills
The types of roles you recruit for can change too. Perhaps you want to expand the types of classes you offer. That will require instructors with specific qualifications.
You may also want to expand your offering. Physiotherapists, nutritionists, and mental health coaches can complement the traditional gym environment. How? By helping your members recover faster and achieve their targets.
These hires cater to the growing need to support the health and wellbeing of members – going beyond physical fitness.
And if you are serious about growth, consider adding marketers. Experienced marketers can help strengthen your brand presence, reach new members, and keep existing ones coming back. They’ll be able to make use of the email and SMS marketing features within your gym marketing software.
No matter who you hire as you grow, you can follow the same hiring process as you did when you started up. But you’ll need a bigger focus on finding skills that complement your existing gym staff. And make sure personalities fit in well with the team you’ve built.
Soft skills are even more important as you grow. Look to hire candidates with expertise that align with your needs and who will complement your existing team.
As an owner, you will also need to think about your role as you grow. Where are you best placed in the business? What should you do and what should you let others do? Look for team members who can do the job better than you.
Starting strong – onboarding new gym staff
Just as you will need to get new gym member onboarding right, how you welcome and onboard new team members matters too.
Make sure you have everything you need to make the first day as smooth as possible for your new hire. Before their first day:
- Identify any documents you’ll need, for example:
- A copy of working visas for any non-citizens
- A P45 form or P46 form
- Set up a personnel record for the new employee covering their salary (or wage and time record) and leave/holiday record
- Advise the new employee of details you’ll need from them, such as:
- Full name, address, and contact details
- Emergency contacts
- Any special medical needs
- Bank account details
- Set everything up ready for them, for example:
- Make sure they have any cards/codes they’ll need to gain access to any restricted areas
- Set up any equipment and logins they’ll need to do their new job
- Organise time for them to meet key colleagues
- Make sure you are ready to meet any special medical needs
First few days
You may choose to spread onboarding over a few days, so everything is covered at a suitable speed:
- Give them a warm welcome – Provide any equipment, uniform, and welcome gifts
- Show them around – organise a tour of your facilities, talk them through any typical routines your club has, and give a health and safety briefing
- Explain more about your business – tell them about the history of your club. Explain your purpose and values. Talk about your target audience and offering. And share your organisational culture
- Set them up for success – run through their role in a way that shows how it fits into the business. Go over their duties and responsibilities to set clear expectations. And share any goals
- Introduce them to your team – take time to introduce your new gym staff member to the rest of your team. Set up time for them to spend one-on-one with key team members – that could be a meeting or a coffee
- Provide any initial training they need – for example, make sure they can use your gym management software
You may also want to consider setting them up with another member of your team as a buddy. This will help welcome them and share additional knowledge over their first few weeks.
How to retain the best people
Hiring gym staff is expensive and time consuming. When you open a new gym, and as you grow, you need to bring in the best people. And that’s only part of the job.
You also need to retain them. Keeping hold of the best people makes your life easier. You have a consistent team in place that you can trust. And you don’t need to enter a cycle of constant recruitment to fill any gaps that come up.
Retaining the best people isn’t just a matter of offering the right salaries, although that does play a significant part. You also must show your team that they’re valued.
Demotivated team members are more likely to start looking for new jobs. One of the main driving forces behind this lack of motivation is that your team doesn’t understand why what they do matters.
So, show them. Make them part of your planning sessions, listen to their feedback, and make sure they’re involved in setting targets. Ask for ideas and feedback, and act on their suggestions where appropriate.
If your people believe they have a say in the way things are run, they’ll feel like an integral part of the team, and they’ll want to keep contributing.
Then, make sure they always know how they’re performing.
We all like to know our hard work is valued. So, recognise and reward all that hard work your team does every single day. Incentives such as free drinks, gift cards, or a staff party can all help, but don’t underestimate the power of a thank you for a job well done.
Help your gym staff progress in their careers and develop professionally with the right training. That might mean supporting them to work towards qualifications and take part in continuous professional development. Organisations like Active IQ, offer a wide range of free and paid for education for fitness businesses and professionals.
Investing in your people through training and the opportunity to progress on to new roles will help you retain the best talent in the long-term.
And finally, set your team up to succeed with the right software. Having an easy to learn and use gym management software system in place will free up time for your team and keep your business running smoothly.
People stay in jobs where they feel happy and content. Reward your staff, praise them, invest in them, and give them the tools they need to succeed.
The wrap up…
Hiring staff for your gym is an important task whether you’re starting out, backfilling a role, or expanding.
It can be one of the most rewarding parts of your job. Putting together a team with the right blend of complementary skills, the right mutually supportive personalities, and the right outlook is key to creating a culture of success for your gym.
And with that culture in place, you’ll be set for long-term success.
Get the fuel to go further. Request a demo to see the value that Xplor Gym can bring to your fitness business.
Article by Xplor Gym
First published: 12 June 2023
Last updated: 31 October 2023