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Entries in hiring (13)


Unleashing Your Health Club Team’s Talent

The reasons for developing the talent within your health club are limitless; bolstering your employees helps to improve retention, foster a positive culture, and increase productivity. And, in the wise words of business writer Tom Peters, “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”

However, like most things that are worthwhile, talent development is easier said than done—especially for the busy club operator.

Continue reading "Unleashing Your Health Club Team’s Talent."

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Health Club Member Retention Is a Team Effort

The average health club has an annual attrition rate of 28.6%, according to the upcoming edition of IHRSA’s Profiles of Success.

Some attrition is inevitable, of course. Members relocate, change jobs, etc. However, chances are your club is losing at least a few members each month that you could retain with some additional effort on the part of your team. And by “team,” we mean every single employee. Each one contributes—either positively or negatively—to each of your club members’ long-term satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, with their experience at your facility.

Consider the following, which is excerpted from IHRSA’s Guide to Membership Retention, written by former IHRSA executive director John McCarthy:

Few clubs attach compensation opportunities to improvements in membership retention.

The message that almost every club’s compensation plan sends to its staff is that membership acquisition is more important than membership retention.

One of the ironies of contemporary club management is that almost every club manager gives lip service to membership retention, yet relatively few put hard cash on the line. Even more alarming is that whereas every club manager assigns two to five people to sell club memberships, and each of these people is accountable for a monthly sales quota that is the basis of their compensation, there is no equivalent allocation of responsibility, accountability or compensation for membership retention.

At many clubs if one were to ask who is responsible for membership retention, the answer would be: “Everyone.” Yet, as we know, whenever “everyone” is responsible for something, it means, in effect, that “no one” is responsible.

If membership retention is as important as everyone affirms, and if it is measurable, and if it is a responsibility that can be allocated, then there is no reason not to provide financial incentives to those who are accountable for improvements in this arena. 

Accountability continues to be the missing link in the way most clubs approach this issue. In this respect, membership retention stands in the sharpest possible contrast to the way in which most clubs approach membership acquisition in which accountability is standard practice.

The bottom line with respect to membership retention is ownership. Who owns this opportunity/challenge? Until someone senior in the organization takes ownership of this opportunity, and until compensation opportunities are attached to it, and until budgets reflect a commitment to success in this arena, creative solutions and significant improvements will continue to be unlikely.

The front desk is on the front line for combating attrition.

A friendly, welcoming, hospitable and efficient front desk is an important piece of the membership retention puzzle. Conversely, a cold, unfriendly, unwelcoming or hostile front desk can be a major factor in accelerating membership attrition.

Whereas a warm and welcoming front desk is no guarantee of rising retention rates, a cold, impersonal and hostile front desk is almost certainly a leading indicator of a club that is destined to have higher membership attrition. If there is any single litmus test for the personality of a club and, in particular, for the personality of a club’s general manager, it is the hospitality (or lack thereof) of the club’s front desk.

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How to Determine if an Employee Is the Right Fit for Your Health Club 

by Regina Satagaj, vice president of human resources for IHRSA 

If you are going through the time and energy to recruit and hire a new employee for an open position, then there is no doubt your hope is to retain the employee so they can productively contribute to your business. 

Hiring a candidate that will fit in your organization will have a direct impact on employee retention. 

Sometimes, the candidate has the right skills, but will they be the right fit? Starting with the interview process, I concentrate on separating the interview questions into two sections:  

  1. Person-to-Job
  2. Person-to-Organization  

Person-to-Job Fit 

Person-to-Job questions are related to skills, years of experience, and levels of knowledge. In other words, what skills should the employee have to help achieve your strategic plan objectives? 

Asking questions to determine Person-to-Job fit is relatively straightforward. As mentioned in other blog posts, starting with the end in mind and keeping the organizations strategic plan in focus are integral parts of the interview process. 

Person-to-Organization Fit 

Determining Person-to-Organization fit is a bit more challenging. 

Person-to-Organization is defined as “congruence of an individual’s beliefs and values with the culture, norms, and values of an organization.”  

Continue reading "How to Determine if an Employee Is the Right Fit for Your Health Club."

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Organizational Balance is Key for Successful Health Club Strategic Planning

Developing a solid strategic plan is a critical element of business success; however, your hiring process and your club’s objectives must also align to achieve your goals. 

Ultimately, it’s all about balance. 

“Make sure that when you’re hiring and setting up your organization, you’re thinking about it from a balance perspective for what skillsets and talents you need, because if you hire a bunch of people like yourself, you’ll fail,” said Bill McBride, president & CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3, during his Wednesday, August 3, IHRSA Institute session, “Strategic Planning for Health Club Executives.” 

McBride asked attendees to fill out a work-style assessment, which helped them determine if they were a “producer,” “administrator,” “entrepreneur,” or “integrator.” By understanding your work-style, a club executive can focus on their strengths and hire people who have other strengths. 

With a strategically curated team in place, health club leaders can then work toward executing their strategic plan. During the two-hour session, McBride offered the following advice:  

  • Execution without strategy is dangerous.
  • Strategy without execution is worse than meaningless—it causes a lack of faith.
  • Good strategy requires strong discipline. That might mean saying no to many good ideas so you can focus on the good ideas you already have.
  • Being great at one to three strategic initiatives is a stronger position than being mediocre at four to six strategies.  

“Good strategy is saying no to good ideas so you can do your other good ideas well,” he said. “You have to have good discipline on what you’re trying to accomplish, otherwise you’ll just keep waffling.”


Answer These 5 Questions to Hire More Strategically at Your Health Club

Hiring and staffing plays an integral role in any health club’s strategic plan. 

Earlier this month, we discussed the questions you should ask every job candidate at your club. Today, we’re taking a step back to consider the questions health club owners and operators should ask themselves before hiring someone. 

Health Clubs Should Adopt a Strategic Approach to Hiring   

To hire strategically, you should begin with the end in mind, says Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3. 

“When you do that, you are essentially beginning with your strategy goal and then you can create the steps and roadmap to get there,” he says. “So to align, you would define: Who do I need to hire to achieve our strategy? How do I need to train my team to achieve our strategy? What performance metrics do they need to achieve to achieve our strategy?” 

McBride will teach IHRSA Institute attendees how to enhance their strategic focus and develop high performing teams that deliver desired outcomes and profitability in his Wednesday, August 3 session, “Strategic Planning for Club Executives.”  

5 Questions to Ask Yourself before Hiring Someone 

Here are the five questions he recommends club owners and operators ask themselves before hiring someone:  

  1. What type of personality do you need to add to your team for it to operate at the highest level of productivity? 
  2. What skills are needed for the team to carry out the strategic mission? 
  3. Based on this candidate’s past performance, is there evidence that he/she will make your site more successful and achieve your strategic goals? 
  4. Does this candidate have enough of the “must be hired with” traits?  
  5. Do they have honesty/integrity? (These are always non-negotiable.)  

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.


11 Questions You Should Ask Every Job Candidate at Your Health Club

Understanding strategic thinking and developing a solid strategic plan is core to business success; however, your hiring, training, performance management and reward systems, and your organizational objectives must also align to achieve your goals. 

And executing that alignment often trips club owners up. 

“Most people start with the task at hand, versus going mentally to the final desired outcome and working backwards,” says Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3. When you begin with the end in mind, “you are essentially beginning with your strategy goal and then you can create the steps and roadmap to get there.” 

McBride will teach IHRSA Institute attendees how to enhance their strategic focus and develop high performing teams that deliver desired outcomes and profitability in his Wednesday, August 3 session, “Strategic Planning for Club Executives.” 

During the session, McBride will go in depth on how following hiring best practices will help club owners and operators achieve their strategic goals.   

Here are 11 questions that McBride suggests asking every job candidate before hiring them:  

  1. What was your first job? 
  2. What did you love about it? 
  3. What did you hate about it? 
  4. Can you tell me about that experience?
  5. Are you lucky/fortunate?
  6. If you were to have a professional business coach, what would you chose to be coached in?
  7. What are you most proud?
  8. What was your hardest work situation involving conflict with another person?
  9. Why should we hire you?
  10. What concerns you about the job?
  11. What do you like about our company?  

 “In the session, attendees will learn more about each one and how they fit into their strategic plan,” McBride says. “We will also look at how knowledge, attitude, skills, and habits form our ways of thinking and approach to result outcomes. There will be much more on strategic thinking modeling, hiring best practices, and performance management to achieve strategic goals.” 

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.


Best Practices: Hiring the Best Job Candidates

The following post was written by Lisa Gorsline for our Best Practices series. 

Question: We’re getting too many résumés! How can we identify the best person for the job? 

Lisa Gorsline: At our club, we have a proven system—a seven-step interview process—that eliminates the unqualified employee candidates early on in the interview stage. You may want to omit some of the steps, depending on the size of your club, but we find that this approach works very well for our club.

To start that process, we review all applications and résumés, and then select the individuals who, on paper, seem the most qualified.

We then call them to schedule a telephone interview to be conducted at a later date. During the phone interview, be on the lookout for any red flags:

  • Are they punctual for the interview or not?
  • Do they have a tendency to use slang words?
  • What does their tone of voice convey; is it positive, motivated, and energetic?

We evaluate whether the candidate has used proper English during the course of the interview. And we listen for background noise, if any, and consider the impression it conveys.

These conversations tend to weed out many candidates, so we don’t waste time bringing them in for an in-person meeting. It’s a good way to speed up the overall hiring process.

For us, the next steps are: three in-person interviews; a thorough background check; and, if all goes well, a job for the best candidate.

Lisa Gorsline
President/General Manager
Corpus Christi Athletic Club
Corpus Christi, TX


Work and hire eagles, not ducks

Debra Siena led stretching in the middle of her session.One of the main tenets of Debra Siena’s afternoon educational session “Staff Hiring, Training & Retention” was hire eagles and not ducks. For those of you who have never heard the comparison before, eagles soar while ducks waddle along.

She had five keys she laid out to be successful in all three areas:


Key #1: Be a Leader Worth Following

  • challenge status quo
  • empower and inspire
  • have a vision

Key #2: Recruit and Hire Eagles, Not Ducks

  • prepare for an interview
  • look for team players
  • clarify your expectations
  • watch for pitfalls

Key #3: Build Employee Loyalty and Value

  • launch with care
  • restate expectations
  • set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Acvhievable, Realistic, Timely) 
  • watch for pitfalls

Key #4 - Nurture the Company Culture

  • share your vision
  • ask their expectations
  • keep them informed
  • don’t avoid coaching in order to avoid conflict
  • inspire them to motivate themselves
  • recognize them, let members recognize them
  • create a great work environment
  • walk your talk
  • never be a seagull manager

Key #5: Realize Human Capital is Your Greatest Asset

  • team retention = member retention

Debra Siena can be reached at




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


Are You Hiring Personal Trainers Your Members Wouldn't?

By Dr. Michael Mantell

As a gym owner or general manager, here’s one thing you know for sure about your club:  the undeniable king of profit centers is personal training.  The way you market and sell your health club’s personal training is critical to establishing valuable relationships with members and, in turn, increases revenue per club member. 

But wait. There’s more.  Unless you hire the right trainers for you club in the first place, the best marketing and sales efforts will rapidly fail.  The public knows full well what to look for in hiring their personal trainers.  All they have to do is turn to the Internet, fitness magazines, and other exercise and training publications to learn what to look for in an effective trainer.  For people researching personal training, there’s no shortage of resources.

There is practically nothing out there for owners and managers of health clubs, however, to help you do the same—hire the best trainers for your staff. 

Your trainers could be certified by ACE, ACSM, NASM, ISSA, AFAA, or other top personal trainer certification organizations—but ask yourself, is that all that matters to you? Let’s hope that’s only the starting place, if you want truly inspirational, people-oriented, interpersonally skilled, cheerful, outgoing, and cordial trainers.  And you do, don’t you? 

How often do people talk about trainers in clubs who are not affable, who won’t initiate conversations with people they are not training, who spend more time chatting with other trainers rather than with members, who don’t reach out and offer to assist a member with, for example, a more proper position or suggestion for improving a movement?  It’s almost as if some trainers will only communicate with members with whom they are already training.  These are club killers and sales destroyers.  They don’t understand the old saying, “If you don’t mingle, your pockets won’t jingle.”

Knowing how to review a resume and having savvy job interviewing know-how is a critical first step.  Is the resume well organized with experience as it relates to your training needs?  Is there a career progression or large gaps in work chronology?  

Are you aware of any interviewer bias you may have from information obtained prior to the interview, inaccurate first impressions, single answers that skew your reactions, non-verbal communication, your own prejudices?

Do you know how to ask “loaded questions”? “So, which is better, ‘friendly trainers’ or ‘more professional trainers’?”  Do you understand leading questions, “We like friendly personal trainers. Are you friendly?” Are you familiar with trait questions, “Describe your personal style as a trainer,” or “What’s the best type of client for you?”

Does the applicant motivate you to your personal fitness best? Is the applicant charismatic enough for your club? Is she/he someone who has settled for “good enough?”

I’ve found that 70% of all questions you ask applicants ought to be highly structured.  This breaks down as follows:

5% should focus on rapport building

5% should be introductory to the club and job

55% should be core-questions

5% should address resume-confirming information

The other 30% should include a combination of open-ended, hypothetical and probing questions (training scenarios, challenging client issues, specific club/client needs, “tell me a time when you…?”)

Here are health club hiring don’ts:

  1. Ignoring your club’s very specific needs. Do you want to hire a training sergeant, a “mind-body” trainer, an authority/planner who knows everything ever written about training, or a playful trainer who is always inventing new routines?
  2. Failing to test skills. Walk around with your pre-hire and watch their interpersonal reactions, at the very least—best to watch them initiate conversation, work out, or train a member.
  3. Hiring out of desperation or laziness.
  4. Becoming infatuated.
  5. Placating to personal baggage.
  6. Hiring on someone else’s recommendation.
  7. Blindly promoting from within.
  8. Failing to do an extensive background reference check.
  9. Failing to recognize you have made a poor hiring decision.

Remember: your members are the ultimate hiring authority on who you hire.  Keep them in mind as you interview your applicants.  If they wouldn’t hire the applicant for their  personal training, why should you?