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Important Steps in Hiring a Personal Trainer

A good personal training department is more than ample trainers, having many clients, and making a profit. 

While those areas are critical to success – both the club’s and clients’ – there is much more that makes a strong department.

Sherri McMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training in Vancouver, Wash., provides the following advice.

“I think it is important for an owner or manager (of a club) to understand the potential and opportunities for a good personal training department,” said McMillan. “There are many examples where a personal training department has surpassed memberdues. An owner needs to understand how critical the opportunities are.”

McMillan knows a little about both personal training and educating on the subject. Among her accolades are the 2010 International CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Program Director of the Year, Inaugural IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Canadian Fitness Presenter of the Year, and was a finalist for the 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year.

She said one of the most important areas, if not the most important, is the initial step: the hiring process.

Bringing on the right candidate is not about the strongest resume. Asking the right questions in the interview and making sure the person you bring on fits in with the club’s mission and vision is crucial.

“In terms of the interview process, we outline a number of qualities and characteristics that we feel are important to be a good personal trainer,” McMillan said. “We try to ask questions that answer those questions.”

McMillan pointed out the top three characteristics she looks for:

  1. Education: The candidate has to know what they are doing, understand the practical and technical side of personal training, and will get good results for clients.
  2. Personality: The candidate must have good customer service skills, be a good listener and communicator, and have an upbeat attitude. They must have the qualities people are attracted to.
  3. Business: Personal trainers have to have the ability to self-promote and market the department and themselves, and have the ability to influence someone to commit to health and fitness. Personal trainers need to show their value and sell themselves. 

“If you find the right trainer for your team, if someone is strong in those three areas, then they will be a rock star,” McMillan said. “The ability to find the diamonds and weed out the rest will definitely take some time and energy.”

“I think a lot of owners and managers don’t put as much value on the personal training department as they should,” she said. “If they can be shown how (personal training) can impact the bottom line … it will go above and beyond its potential.” 

McMillan did a full webinar on the subject, touching on many areas of personal training in a club or studio, including effective marketing, recruiting, interviewing, training, retaining trainers and more.. McMillan said her webinar is geared more toward management – personal training department, club owners and club managers – but human resources department and personal trainers can benefit, too.

Those who watch the webinar will be shown the potential of a personal training department and will be able to bring that back to their peers and bosses.

For more information on IHRSA webinars, visit

Reader Comments (2)

You have shared a very great info about personal trainer. It is very important whenever we hire a personal trainer we must check their education, personality and training skills. Rehabilitation professionals also providing personal who will take care of your health and activities. We have the goal to give shape to people with their desire. Our all trainer are well experienced
April 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLovisa Karlsson
I think the 3 characteristics mentioned would add the background or opinions of other people.
June 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterpersonal trainer

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