Your fitness facility’s personal trainers are some of your greatest assets—that is, if they are good at what they do. If they are not, then they could be one of your company's greatest liabilities. You must ensure that you do all you can to hire the right personal trainers, which can be a difficult task in this day and age.

Whether you are starting up a new club, filling new positions or replacing exiting personal trainers, here are a few things to consider that will help you pick the right trainers:

  1. Make sure the trainers you hire are certified. It is always better to hire personal trainers who are already certified by credible certifying agencies. If you find someone with tremendous potential who is not yet certified, ensure that they get a certification quickly. Consider working out a deal with them where you sponsor them to get a certification.
  2. Hire for personality traits first. Because we are in a personal and relationship business, it makes sense to have people who are personable and passionate. You want your training staff to be able to communicate effectively and to be trustworthy, responsible and prompt. You should be able to pick up on some of this through the interviews, but I like to do another test by telling the interviewee to introduce themselves to members in your club that you randomly choose. This test shows how willing the trainer is to accepting coaching or advice and how personable they really are in the field. I also like to ask interviewees what their weaknesses are. By doing so, you can see if they admit them to you and if they go a step further in explaining how they are working to improve on them.
  3. Hire for culture fit. To hire trainers who fit your company’s culture, you must first define your culture, which means knowing your core values. Do not sell your company’s soul and put together a subpar personal training department with less-than-stellar trainers just to bring in some extra revenue. Customers can see through it, and your personal training sales will not be as good as it can be. I suggest testing the persistence of your potential hires because you want persistent people who want to be there. For anyone coming in for an interview, I usually ask them to contact me without giving them any specific instructions on how or why. This tests how badly they want to be a part of your team, and it allows you to see how they manage themselves.
  4. Have your staff interview the trainer candidates. By doing this, you give the rest of your staff a sense of ownership and contribution to the company, and it gets the potential trainer familiar with your culture. Your team will notice things that you will miss when you interview the potential trainer. Some people are great interviewers one time and know how to say all of the right things, but when they have to go through a round of different people and personalities, you test their character and culture fit.
  5. Ask your top staff for referrals. Birds of a feather do flock together. For the most part, people hang out with people who are just like them. So, your top-notch stars likely have friends who are just like them. You should hire for personality traits, which may mean that some of the people with the best traits for being a personal trainer may not have a certification. As noted above, having a certification is important, so consider sponsoring them to get one. You must think long-term and look at it as an investment.
  6. Create partnerships with local colleges and universities to create an internship program. This is the best way to have a constant flow of fantastic prospects. The best part of this situation is that as these students intern, you will become familiar with them and they will learn your system. That makes it easier for you to decide whether or not to hire after their internship ends, and if you do hire them, it makes the training process cheaper and quicker. Develop a close relationship with the directors of the human performance, personal training, health, and physical education departments at your local universities by doing free seminars for them, teaching a class or by giving a speech to their students. By doing this, you become a valuable asset to their organization because your facility offers a pathway to career opportunities for their students. The key goal in your business is to add value, so do just that.

Greg Marshall is co-founder of Elite Training. He has run the personal training departments in up to eight locations at once, owned his own personal training company and has been in the industry five years. He has more than $1 million in personal training sales and has hired and trained personal trainers and staff. He has an extreme passion for the personal training business industry and is always looking for ways to improve it. To contact Marshall, call 801-513-8056 or e-mail him at gregmarshall17@gmail.com. You can read his blog at www.fiture.tumblr.com.