Help make your personal training department profitable
Tue, July 15, 2014 at 14:16
Brad Spiegel in Meetings & Events, Northwest Personal Training, Personal Training, Sherri McMillan, Webinars

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., will discuss both the obvious and “oh, I didn’t think of that” areas that contributed to successful personal training when she leads the next IHRSA webinar, “Managing a Highly Profitable Personal Training Department,” on Thursday, July 17, 2 to 3 p.m. (EDT).

“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 members dues. An owner needs to understand how critical the opportunities are.”

The presenter knows a little about both personal training and educating on the subject. She has earned 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.

McMillan will touch on many areas of personal training in a club and studio, including effective marketing, recruiting, interviewing, training, retaining trainers and more.

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.”

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 attend 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.

“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.” 

For more information on IHRSA webinars, visit

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