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What to Look for When Hiring Gym Staff

As an owner, you know exactly the feel you want for your club, and the culture you want to cultivate. If you are opening a small club or a gym on a shoestring, initially you will likely be responsible for most of the positions in the club.

But when it is time to hire gym staff, whomever you hire should reflect your values and help you create the tone for your business. Here is a short list of some of the important things you need to look for in your new hires.

smiling girl on the front desk

front desk help


Your front desk personnel set the mood for every member when they walk in the door. Theirs is the first and last face your members will see. They will come to associate that individual with your club.

  • A great smile- Who can resist a friendly smile without smiling back? Ok a few anti-social people, but a great smile goes a LONG way.
  • A cheerful voice- No one wants to hear 80 year old chronic smoker voice from a young face. Nor do they want Droopy Dog in the a.m. when they are trying to get motivated.
  • Punctuality- The doors MUST open on time. It is respect for others’ time, and will save you from some VERY early morning calls from irate members.
  • Attention to detail- Front Desk personnel are responsible for telephone inquiries and walk in tours. They sign up your new members, take their photos, put them in your system, set up billing, and get waivers signed. There are many moving parts, and all of them are important.
  • Telephone manners-  All of the people who call your club will be talking to this person. Make sure they know how to answer a phone properly, and enunciate clearly.
  • Desire to stay busy- Clubs can fluctuate from incredibly busy to really, really slow, depending on day and even time of day. Monday at 9 am is crazy, but Friday at 3pm is a ghost town. Dusting, record keeping, refilling supplies….keeping up with additional tasks is key to maximizing productivity.

personal trainers

personal trainers


Personal Trainers are your ambassadors in your club. They spend more one on one time with your members than any other member of your staff. This means they have access and can do more good or damage to your business than anyone. Make sure that the person you hire represents your views on customer service and care.

  • LIKEABILITY- If you do not like them, clients won’t like them.
  • Passion for the business- Ask them why they got into personal training. If it is not about helping people, they are probably there for the wrong reasons. Personal Training is not a get rich business. It takes work to be successful.
  • A billboard body- No, they do not have to be perfect. In fact some great trainers I know are definitely a work in progress. But you must look the part. If you cannot handle your own body, why should I trust you with mine?
  • Sales skills- This is teachable, but only if you are open to the idea of sales. Remember, no matter how good a trainer someone is, without out the ability to convince someone to pay for your services, you cannot be successful….not rich, but everyone has bills and needs to eat.
  • Detail oriented- Keeping track of clients is occasionally tedious, and definitely not the sexy part of being a trainer, but it is vital that we track clients, and show results.
  • Punctuality- Late trainers cause more problems than just about anything, particularly when they have clients back to back. It makes clients suffer or shorts them time for which they have paid good money. Neither one of those is good or improves reputation. If happy clients are the best marketing tool, unhappy clients are a death knell.

*NOTE: Certifications are not mentioned on the list for personal trainers, ALTHOUGH we HIGHLY RECOMMEND them. This is because with no national governing body that licenses the programs out there, some claim it is not even legal to require a trainer to be certified. It can be a suggestion but not a true job requirement, as this puts pressure on the owner of the clubs to help maintain that certification. Also, there are levels of certifications- the best come from NASM, ACSM, ACE and NCSA. The next most desirable include ISSA and AFAA.


group instructors

group instructors

Group Instructors

If you decide to have classes in your club, you will need to interview and audition group instructors. It is also a good idea to have back up instructors, as the members that use classes are regular users, and get a bit testy when the classes the rely on are canceled.

  • Likeability- If you don’t like them, your members won’t like them either.
  • High Energy- Class need energy. It is provided by instructors…usually somewhere in the realm of psycho cheerleader…loud, happy, encouraging, and energetic.
  • Great form- Instructors demonstrate through their performance and voices. Your members will emulate them. Proper form keeps everyone safe.
  • A billboard body- An instructor’s body should be a testament to what they do. Not perfect, but inspiring.

*NOTE- Set a standard for workout wear for your instructors. It is probably not a good idea to allow sports bra- only attire. It is disconcerting to the member, and discouraging to the overweight client.