Maybe you like exercising or refuse to be stuck at a desk for the majority of your day. Maybe exercise changed your life, and you want to help others find what you found. Whatever your reason, being a personal trainer can be a very rewarding profession. It can also be a very frustrating one depending on how you go about it. After owning a personal training studio for 8 years with my wonderful wife Christine, I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on 1) how to make personal training a successful career, 2) how to find a studio or fitness environment that fits you, and 3) how we determine who we hire.
1) How to make it a successful career:
This is probably the most important factor when considering personal training as a career or 5+ year vocation. Even if fitness is your love and you want it to be your life, you have to make enough money to make it work. It must pay the bills and support your lifestyle.
My first piece of advice is not to take the first job you’re offered. Interview with several facilities and see what they offer in way of pay, benefits, and culture. In addition to getting to see how several places are run and operate, this will allow you to compare compensation and choose the best option. It will give you more confidence in your decision. It also lets your employer know you’re thoughtful and intentional about your choice.
Don’t only apply to places that are hiring. The best studios or gyms may not have a position listed. That’s ok. Stop in and try to meet the owner or manager. Some of the best trainers we hired walked in the front door and told us they were looking for a position. I always love people taking initiative. It might be intimidating, but you may find an opportunity you didn’t know was available. Not every facility lists their positions on an open job market.
Many studios or gyms will have sales quotas that personal trainers are meant to meet every month. If you like sales, this is great. It’s a way to make extra money. If you don’t like sales and don’t want to have to think about selling packs of sessions or product every month, find a studio or gym that doesn’t require this.
Ask the owner or manager how much their top trainers make and what it takes to get to that level. Ask about raises, bonuses, and what can be expected in the coming months or years. This will be important and not many people ask about it. In fact, I’ve been surprised over the years how few people have asked about how much money other trainers make, or how many training hours can be expected. I always think it’s important to go in with eyes wide open and to know as much about wages and pay in years to come as it is to know starting pay.
Ask how long trainers have been at their facility and what their turnover is like. Find out if people are happy there, or if they have a revolving door or trainers.
2) How to find a fitness environment that fits you:
This is really as important as the first point. If you get hooked up with a studio or gym that doesn’t fit who you are or what you want to be doing, it won’t last no matter how much money you make.
Ask if they have core values and find out what those values are. For instance, the Core Values at Body Basics are 1) Expert, 2) Team Player, 3) Role Model, 4) Light Hearted and Fun and, 5) Captain America (Kind, Caring, Honest and Dependable). These reflect who we are and how we operate and interact as trainers. We also use these values to filter who we hire, and we use them to review our employees throughout the year. It’s also not a bad idea to think through what your personal values are--What factors are you looking for in a studio? What values reflect who and how you are?
Ask if they have a model or training philosophy and see if it is something you like or agree with. The best studios will have this and will provide training for their new hires. If a studio is just looking to hire anyone that can train and throws them out on the floor to do their own thing, this can be attractive but usually indicates they are just looking for people to fill space. While you can do your own thing, you won’t have the opportunity to grow as a trainer, and they may not take the act of training as seriously as the money they make off of training. Our training philosophy at Body Basics is “no matter a client’s goals, we will improve the way they move”. We do this through a thorough 20+ point assessment to determine range of motion in each joint, functional movement competency (the ability to perform complex multi-joint movements) and limitations or pain in movement. That provides the platform for the program we design for each individual client. We use a scientific model to improve movement that is 1) Observe, 2) Form multiple hypothesis, 3) Use our algorithm to predict which hypothesis to start with, 4) Confirm or deny through an experiment, and 5) Implement a solution.
Decide if you want to be at a big gym or a private studio. There are many pros and cons to each, and it’s important to decide if you want to work at a bigger gym with classes, open gym space or a private studio that focuses exclusively on personal training like Body Basics.
3) Who we hire:
Body Basics is a small personal training studio. We have about 8 trainers that work for us, and we have a very specific culture and environment. As I mentioned above, we hire based on our core values. This is central to us. Since we’re a small studio, each trainer we have on our team has a big impact on our culture. We want to make sure we hire people that are like-minded and reflect our values. We can train the skill, but we can’t change the character or personality of a person. The #1 biggest mistake we’ve made is allowing trainers to be on our team that don’t reflect our values.
We also look for trainers who are smart. This may sound silly to say, but our work is never conducted on the same subject with the same variables. A solution for one client may not be the right solution for another. What worked on your body may not on another, or what was wrong with your body may not be the same as someone else with the same symptoms. It takes a very logical, scientific brain to be able to gather data, and not jump to conclusions. The best trainers can do this. They can use our training model and let the model produce a path to a valid solution.
Lastly, we like to hire people who can see themselves at our studio for at least 2+ years. We don’t like turnover. It’s costly to our business. When we’re interviewing a trainer, we typically ask them if they can see themselves living in Boise and working at a studio for a significant period of time. We don’t expect trainers to spend their entire career at Body Basics, but we aren’t looking for people who just need a job for 6 months or a year.
If you’re a trainer looking to get hired by a studio or gym, I hope this helps. I hope it’s given you some things to think about and makes your search for a studio or gym more fruitful. If you’re in the Boise area and feel like you may be a good fit for our studio, please check out our career page. https://www.bodybasicsboise.com/careers/