4 Ways Gyms Can Attract and Retain Great Trainers

attract and retain talented employees

From the manufacturing floor to the corner office, there are currently more jobs available than job seekers. In this era of free will, gyms are increasingly competing for talent. But how can one attract and retain talented employees?

The US unemployment rate fell to 4.2% in November 2021, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that the most qualified talents are already being tapped. And the number of workers quitting their jobs hit a record in October since the Great Recession. Layoff rates tend to skyrocket in a strong economy because workers are confident they can find new, higher-paying jobs. 

As per a recent CompTIA report, 41% of companies surveyed hired technicians during the pandemic, with over 60% planning to add more by the end of 2021. As Economics 101 teaches, this growing demand is driving competition and wage growth for talent, making it more challenging for fitness gyms to attract and retain the best of the best than ever.

Therefore, fitness companies are forced to fight for their share of skilled talent.

According to the Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey for Q3 2021, 66% of CEOs plan to expand their staff next year. CEOs recognize that employee retention is critical to growth, as you need to stop employee outflow in order to actually increase the size of your workforce. In fact, 79% of CEOs cited “retaining existing talent” as a top management challenge, while another 67% cited “attracting talent as a top priority.”

What is a CEO to do? Between the US labor statistics published in the national news and the constant articles by national companies about the importance of keeping employees at the company, who has the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? There are so many suggestions now on how to keep top performers.

However, we want to look at this topic from a drone perspective. Here we mixed approaches from different CEOs of companies that can easily be applied to gym owners. Check them out!

Why Do Most Companies Fail to Attract and Retain the Real Pros?


A LinkedIn study found that the main reason a person leaves an organization and the primary cause someone joins a company is the same: career opportunity.

Compensation and benefits are no longer holy grail as job seekers decide whether to join or quit. Unfortunately, today most companies could achieve more by following some modern canons of proper recruiting.

Moreover, it may seem like business leaders know that talent is precious and rare, so it can be assumed that they know how to find it. This is not the case. 82% of companies don’t believe they are hiring talented people. Of the companies that do so, only 7% think they can attract and retain those employees. More worrisome, only 23% of managers and C-suite talent-related executives believe their current acquisition and retention strategies will work.

Talking about COVID pandemics. We got an important lesson learned: when the outside world is insecure, we all need more control over our daily lives.

Many workers have taken advantage of this pause to completely re-evaluate their careers and what they would change if they could (and, increasingly, they can). 

The result is a revolution in new hires that demand unprecedented development in the workplace.

The numbers speak for themselves: a global mental health study by Qualtrics found that 42 percent of people experienced a decline in mental health during the pandemic. 


  • 67% of people experience increased stress, 
  • 57% have increased anxiety, 
  • 54% are emotionally drained, 
  • 28% have trouble concentrating, 
  • 20% take longer to complete tasks, 
  • 15% have trouble thinking, 
  • 12% are encouraged to juggle their responsibilities.

Gone are the days when recruits had outrageous office privileges. 

Employees now want flexible schedules, better perks, higher wages, and, perhaps most importantly, more respect. 

As workers become more decentralized, perks such as ping pong tables and cold draft beers no longer have the appeal they once had. So what can an organization do to mitigate these major changes in how and where people want to work?

What are the Big Ideas?

gym trainer

1. When Recruiting, Think Like an Investor

While we often hear “Hire based on potential, not skills,” the reality is different, and most CEOs want someone with years of training experience. Nobody wants to take risks.

And managers aiming at recruiting the best talent should see it in the following way.

Hiring a new team member is always risky. They may have previous experience, but there is a risk that they will not fit your team or corporate culture. That they are not suitable for your small startup or, conversely, your large and heavy matrix organization. Or will they not work the way you expected because they are going to be doing what they have been doing for many previous years only for another company and they burned out a little from it? Or they won’t be able to handle the rapid changes in your company because they come from a very stable employer.

And while everybody knows the risk is higher when they hire a trainer with little experience, wise CEOs also think the benefits are more valuable as well.

Think like an investor. The more you invest in riskier funds, the more you can get!

You need to decide whether you are investing in conservative funds with low returns or in riskier investments with higher returns. Investment managers always say that we need to assess risk and have a diversified investment portfolio, and advise us not to put all of our assets in one basket. 

So why don’t we do the same with our gym team members? 

You may already have several team members; let’s say a team of 6-10 people. They have a proven track record and experience. They know the ways to work, so why can’t you hire a new member with a higher risk? We could all win if we took such a risk.

2. To Attract and Retain, Think as an Employee

As for retaining good employees, it is best to ask yourself some difficult questions from their perspective. Do your people want to come to work every morning? Is the job interesting and meaningful – or do your employees just feel like they want a paycheck? Is your team still learning and growing? Otherwise, employees will feel it is time to move on.

It’s also important to assess whether your employees enjoy spending time with each other. If employees do not genuinely love and respect the people with whom they spend a significant portion of their day, they will eventually decide to leave your organization and start developing relationships with other companies. You have to motivate them every single day.

Kevin Daum, an Inc. 500 entrepreneur thinks that there are always situational reasons why employees tend to quit their jobs, even in the best companies.

He admits that a good employer must ensure that valuable employees always feel appreciated, even if their current job responsibilities are about to change. Provide learning and educational opportunities. If your employees have strong enough soft skills, they will likely be able to learn many of the technical requirements for new roles. In fact, the best employees will be happy to try something new.

Promotions and bonuses are limited to retaining top talent. Many studies have repeatedly confirmed that wage increases either do not produce a measurable increase in happiness above a certain level, or that satisfaction is short-lived. 

3. Focus on the 5 Percent Who Deliver 95 Percent of the Value


Companies are implementing different initiatives to improve their talent management processes. However, they only get incremental improvements, and the vast majority of gym CEOs report that their companies do not recruit enough talented people to believe their current strategies will work.

What are these leaders missing? Take American football. If you ask people who is the highest-paid player on the team, they will correctly answer that the quarterback is a key character in the vast majority of games. People would probably say that the second-highest-paid player was the running back or wide receiver as they work directly with the quarterback to promote the ball. These people are wrong. This is a relatively unnoticed left tackle that protects the quarterback from things that he can’t see and that could hurt him.

In exactly the same way, fitness leaders should assess what members of their training team are forming the core, and make every effort to meet their demands.

Scott Keller, Director of Representative Office McKinsey & Company, believes that some employees disproportionately create or protect value, and not all of them are obvious. The navy, for example, obviously needs to ensure that it has the best and smartest men in command of the nuclear submarine fleet. Equally, however, it must ensure that talented people are recruited into the role of an IT shutdown engineer that prevents disaster for the crew, the environment, and humanity. In a world of limited resources, companies must focus their efforts on a few critical areas where the best people have the most impact. 

Start with roles, not processes (which create general solutions that do not significantly improve results) or specific people (who can help you in certain situations, but do not build institutional muscle).

In other words, you should be aiming at hiring a team of gym Avengers to beat Thanos, and not on thinking of ways to destroy him. There are already guys who know how to do that. Your job as a CEO is just to find them. 

Choosing the right battle is not easy – you have to understand the true economics of creating value in certain roles. This is why it could be one of your secret weapons in the talent war.

4. Make Your Offer Magnetic – and Deliver

gym coach

Company leaders know the term Employee Value Proposition or EVP: what employees get for what they give. 

Gives” come in different flavors: 

  • time, 
  • effort, 
  • experience, 
  • ideas.

Gets” includes tangible awards, experience in the company, how its management helps employees, and the essence of the work. If your EVP is truly stronger than the competition, you will attract and retain the best talent. 

Scott Keller distinguishes three reasons that actually help companies win this war:

Not distinctive

In the race to attract and retain talent, a typical HR department spends months figuring out what employees want – great vacancy in a great company, great leaders, and great rewards. The HR department then says the value proposition has to provide it all, which is why EVP resembles that of any business that has gone through the same process. Companies are better off standing out in one dimension without ignoring others. 

Work for Google if you want to tackle complex problems, Virgin if Richard Branson’s leadership gets in your way, or Amgen if you want to “conquer death.”

Not targeted

While it’s okay to have a total EVP, what matters most is the winning EVP for the 5 percent of the most important roles. For example, if senior trainers are extremely important, you will need an EVP that allows them to invent different things:

  1. offer clear and fast career growth; 
  2. help them to have a big impact.


Attractive EVP, invented by HR and promoted through PR that helps to find the best talent. In the long run, however, this has always been a losing proposition, as great people quickly become discouraged when the reality is not true. 

Today, however, talent doesn’t buy such promises at all. Employees are a more reliable source of information about working conditions than managers or HR managers. The same internet and social media platforms that help customers investigate product claims do the same for hotspots. 

Sites like Glassdoor or Job Advisor offer peer review and an overview of what it’s really like to work for a company. Your EVP cannot rotate – it must be distinctive, targeted, and real.

Conclusion on How to Attract and Retain Talented Employees

how to attract and retain good employees

While it is becoming increasingly difficult for many gyms to survive in an era of competition, those that place a premium on attracting and retaining their employees and coaches are likely to survive. The above guidelines can be implemented fairly easily and should keep employees engaged in a proper life-work balance and away from the door of exit. This way of working is the most rewarding path for any gym owner or manager looking to build a solid team with loyal members.

It is also worth mentioning again that effective employee engagement and retention not only positively affects employees, but also positively affects the quality of customer service. Satisfied staff are more likely to treat customers well by offering their best work. And clients who are well treated are more likely to stay in the gym.

If you are a gym owner and want your trainers, admins and your members to be happy and loyal to you, use the guidelines above. The task to attract and retain talented employees have never been so easy!

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