What Qualities Should You Look for in a Health Club Manager?

Your health club manager sets the standard for the rest of the team. Make sure you're hiring someone with the right attributes.

Whether you’re a club owner, a current manager, or an aspiring manager, there are many things to think about when considering your management team.

Managers, and what they bring to your club, come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences—and a successful, cohesive management team should consist of personalities that complement each other.

Managers Should Have Qualities that Align with Your Club’s Values

Considering the size and type of health club business you are running, you may have department managers or “general” managers. Do you run a small club with two or three “Jack-of-all-trade” managers, or a larger facility with a dozen managers, each specifically responsible for a department?

No matter what kind of management structure you have, you want to ensure that each manager has qualities that are in line with your club’s mission and values.

One of the key ingredients for great health club leadership is visionary thinking and brokering ideas, says Molly Kemmer of EXOS/MediFit and former IHRSA board chair.

 “View the organization not just as it is today, but also as it needs to be in the future,” she says. “Foster a culture of speaking up, as well as of listening intently, to facilitate this approach.”

Many departmental mangers will require more specific skills, but all managers should have some level of inherent “people” skills—as general of a term as that may be.

“View the organization not just as it is today, but also as it needs to be in the future. Foster a culture of speaking up, as well as of listening intently, to facilitate this approach.”

Molly Kemmer

EXOS/MediFit

Specific Qualities You Should Look for in a Manager

Behind the certifications and equipment and trying to keep up with evolving fitness trends, the health club industry is a compassionate, hospitality driven one. You’re transforming lives, helping people reach goals, celebrate personal victories, and work through defeats.

In his 2016 IHRSA Institute session “Strategic Planning for Club Executives,” Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3, shared insights from an article he wrote saying the first step to good talent (employees) is to know whom you are looking for.

“You have to know what type of person you need on a given team based on the other team members to have balance and multiple aptitudes covered… Look for initiative, ownership mentality, adaptability, positive thinking, results orientation, accountability, broad thinking, honesty, integrity, and character.”

In addition to personality and people skills, consider what technical skills are required to take on a leadership role in your club.

Should your managers have previous departmental experience or will an all-encompassing knowledge of the health club business suffice, as individual skills will be trained?  Will they be responsible for hiring and training, implementing policies and procedures or budgeting?

Determine which skills your managers should already have and which you can train. Finding the perfect manager may not be realistic, but finding great managers whose strengths and weaknesses complement and balance each other is an essential part of your clubs’ perfect management team.

Author avatar

Carolynn Jordan

Carolynn Jordan is the Member Communication Specialist for IHRSA. She develops outreach that helps IHRSA members best use their benefits and stay engaged in the IHRSA community. When she isn’t working, Carolynn is likely researching what city she’ll run her 10th marathon in.