Top 5 Ways to Fix The Fitness Industry’s Biggest Problem

Make all the excuses you want. Pretend it’s out of your control, or that every other industry has the same problem. Insist that your situation is “normal.” But none of that is really true.

And you know it.

Let’s just get it out in the open. Because that’s the only way it can get any better.

Staff turnover (personal trainers in particular) is annoying and embarrassing. But let’s call it what it is: a huge problem in our industry, and a surface symptom of a much more serious situation that needs your attention.  

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Running a successful business despite the revolving door of staff continuously entering and exiting can feel like living one of my childhood nightmares: a ride on the neighborhood park merry-go-round while my older brother and his friends were trying to get me to throw up, cry like a baby, or wet my pants (whichever came first). Better hold on tight and try your best to keep a straight face because you can’t make it stop.

Or can you?

Because of the far-reaching consequences of this problem, addressing it should be one of the main focuses of your business. Especially if you’ve lost personal trainers to your competitors (which really should never happen), now is the time to take this issue seriously and make adjustments.

Before you wet yourself or lose your cookies on this wild ride, how can you put the brakes on constant staff turnover?

Why this needs your focus

If you needed any additional motivation to tackle this issue, never forget that having employees quit and having to hire replacements negatively impacts the two things that you went into business to accomplish: 1) Your ability to truly help your members live healthier, happier lives and 2) Your ability to make money (and stay in business to help more members live healthier, happier lives).

At best, your clients’ success will be delayed by the time it takes you to provide them with another competent trainer. Unfortunately, the reality is that fitness is a challenge, and some clients will seize any opportunity they can to drop out of the process and get back to living a life without the extra effort of fitness. So, losing a trainer almost always means losing some of that trainer’s clients; “My trainer quit” is a difficult excuse to work around.

Not only that, but recruiting, interviewing, on-boarding, and coaching a new member of your team takes valuable time (often your valuable time). And unless you’re Marty McFly with the keys to the Delorean, having extra time isn’t luxury you come by very often.

Finally, staff turnover affects the reputation of your company in the community. Your clients (and ex-clients) will talk about the revolving door of your staff, as will former employees. How many “I used to work there” conversations are likely to end with you and your company being viewed in a positive light? And these negative effects will be compounded a hundredfold if your trainer leaves you for a competitor.

What you must do

As leaders of teams of fitness professionals, you and I need to make huge changes if we’re going to change the turnover trend.

  1. In the first place, we need to do a better job of recruiting, screening, and hiring the right kind of individuals to add to our teams.

  2. We need to improve our ability to coach, train, and support those who become part of our staff.

  3. We need to provide pay and benefits that match the quality of the individuals we want to have on our staff, at least relative to the market in each of our communities.

  4. We need to communicate a compelling vision and/or mission to our teams. And back it up by our behavior and leadership.

  5. And finally, we need to train (yes, train) our trainers and the rest of our teams to practice what they preach and ensure that we are individually and collectively working toward becoming even better.

The bottom line

Staff turnover is an embarrassing part of our industry.

Acknowledging the problem and addressing it should be one of your top priorities.

Doing so will start a cascade of positive results for you and your fitness business.

What solutions to this problem have you found so far? What will you try next?  

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Want help working in your business so you can focus on working on your business? We’ll coach your fitness staff! Just fill out the contact form at yourevenbetter.com to get more information.

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Nate Sleger is a coach, author, and the Director of a Personal Training department in Wisconsin’s lovely Fox River Valley area. He is also the owner and founder of Even Better Coaching, a company designed to support entrepreneurs in the health and wellness industry.

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