How to hire coaches and grow your team

16 min read
Find out how to hire the right coaches and instructors to help your business to grow.

Find out how to hire the right coaches and instructors to help your business to grow.

Retaining members and marketing your business is important for growth, and so is hiring the right team. Without the right coaches and instructors to help you deliver your classes and services, it can be challenging to increase your client base. Many gym and studio owners start out as coaches, putting them in a good position to know what it takes to be a coach and what kind of character is suited to the role. But just because you know what makes a good class and a good coach doesn't mean you know how to find them or who will be a good member of your team.

uFit owner Sam Beagle leading a training session


Photo Credit: uFit owner Sam Beagle

We've heard from a number of fitness business owners about the difficulty of hiring the right people for their business. They know they need to grow their staff, but are not sure where to start. In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know to hire staff and coaches, as well as hear the tips of several TeamUp customers who have experience growing their own teams.

Why hiring the right staff and coaches is important

You cannot build a business with a shaky foundation, hire right and your life and business will have so much more stability. - Hayley Coe owner of CoeActive

Hiring the right staff is important for several key reasons. First off, you want to be sure that your new hire is a good fit for your business, and by extension, the rest of your team. They need to be able to work well with your other employees so that the day to day running of your gym or studio is as smooth as possible. Secondly, you need to be confident that they will be able to build a rapport with your members and clients. A big part of retaining members is that they enjoy their classes and sessions because of their coaches and instructors. Hiring the right personality to work with you, your current team and your clients sets the foundations for a solid business.

With that in mind, here are some tips to guide you through the hiring process.

Have a clear idea of the type of person you want to hire

According to Karen Grinter, owner of Northants Pilates, there are several boxes your potential new coaches or staff need to check before you consider them for your team:

  • Where did they work before? Knowing this can help you understand their history and if they qualify for your open role.
  • Do they love helping people? We want people who want to teach, not instruct - we are there to improve our clients' movements and you can't do that if you are having your own workout.
  • Do they want to share their knowledge? We go on courses all the time and we like to share what we learn between us, it helps everyone to build our knowledge base and keep a nice vibe going between us as teachers and what we pass on to our clients.

Those are my immediate go-to's. I don't want to decry the big gyms or fitness groups but I have found that people who have worked in that environment are not a great fit for us.  They are used to rocking up, teaching and leaving and they are not really interested in sticking around and making connections with our lovely clients. They often ask for class times to be moved so there is even less chance to have to talk to people.

What might work for one business might not work for another business, and it's important to define what your boxes are when you start looking.

Pick the personality, teach them the skills

Hire for values over certificates. You can teach your coaches how to be a better coach, but you can’t teach them how to be a better person." - Sam Beagle owner of uFit

The atmosphere created in a class is as important as the class itself. Your new coaches clearly have to have some experience and while ideally, some form of certification is preferable, certifications and qualifications can be earned and you can advise them to take the courses that best support your business. Your clients and members keep coming back because of the rapport they've built with your team as well as the other members in their classes and sessions.

It's not just about keeping your clients happy though. Adding members to your team is a balancing act. You need to make sure that they're going to get along well with the other members of the staff. They don't have to be best friends, but they have to have a good working relationship with everyone pulling in the same direction.

Contact coaching programs and colleges

While we still maintain that hiring someone with the right personality traits and someone who shares your professional ethos should be a key factor in hiring a new coach or instructor, contacting local colleges and venues hosting training programs is a good way to find emerging talent. Offer to run a workshop or to host a Q&A to show people what you and your business is about, and of course, to scout out the new crop of fitness coaches.

Define the role

Be specific in the hiring process and don’t be lenient. Make it a fairly difficult process for a staff member to go through. - Sam Beagle

Make sure you have fully evaluated what you as a business owner are looking for in a new hire. Clearly define the role and the type of person you hope to bring into your team. You will also need to set a budget for creating and posting job listings. Additionally, make sure you have a fixed date for when you expect any potential new hires to start. Having a clear idea of these key elements will then make the process of creating a job listing easier. Once you have clarity on what you want from your new hire, you can fully inform your applicants about the hiring process from application to potential start date.

Always be ready to hire

A lot of studio and gym owners have had careers as coaches and instructors before going it alone and starting their own business, so they know that the industry can have a bit of a carousel effect. Coaches come, coaches go, so it's important to always be on the lookout for new talent and coaches looking for employment. Having an established hiring process is important to identify potential good fits for your business that can contribute to what you are doing and offering your clients. When you spot the right talent, you want to make it as easy as possible to get them onto your team.

Building a team is first and foremost, getting the hiring process right. Asking the right questions and making sure they are not only fantastic instructors but share your values and ethos. - Hayley Coe

Keep reading to find out how to advertise your job openings

Advertising open positions in your business

It's very easy to use generic buzz words, keeping the description as neutral as possible in an attempt to not discourage a wide range of applicants. But in reality, a lack of clarity about what the job is and what you and your business are all about will ultimately put people off from applying. Anyone can find a job listing, but it's up to you to determine whether or not they are a right fit. So when you're putting your job listing together, it's best to be as clear as possible about who you're looking for and what you offer. To achieve this, there are certain things to remember when you're writing your job listing.

Make sure your listing has a strong title

Creating a strong job title means making it clear and direct. You don't need to get overly creative with the job title so don't stress too much about positions and labels. You want your preferred candidates to find the job listing as easily as possible when they're searching job websites. Keep it short and to the point.

Sell the role and your business

The first paragraph of your job listing should be a brief but emotive insight into your gym or studio.

What makes your business stand out from others?

What can the successful candidate expect when they start?

Clearly show potential applicants that this is an appealing job in a great working environment to get them excited about the prospect of interviewing for the role. Remember, hiring someone new is a two-way street; you need to sell yourself as much as they need to show you they're the right fit for your business.

Having said that, make sure you clearly lay out your ethos as a business owner and the mission statement of your gym or studio. You want as many people to apply as possible, yes, but you want the right people sending their resumés in. Whoever you hire is always going to be representing your brand, so you want to make sure they understand, respect, and share the same values.

My advice is to make sure you look for someone who has the same ethos as you or your studio. If you care about cleanliness make sure that’s important to them too, if friendliness is important make sure they’re friendly. - Annie Norris owner of Pure Studios Hereford

Describe the job role with as much clarity as possible

Creating a clear overview of the role should include the hours you're offering, expected duties and a list of the basic requirements you're expecting, such as experience and qualifications. Adding information about remuneration, whether you're offering a fixed salary or if you follow the Four-Ninths Method, growth opportunities and any perks or benefits that come with the role are also important factors when potential applicants are job searching.

What information to ask applicants for

In your job listing you should ask for a CV or a resumé to show proof of their experience as well as their qualifications and the level achieved in said qualification. This may be enough for you to decide whether or not to give the applicant an interview. You could also request a cover letter. This only needs to be several paragraphs, but it is useful for employers as it gives them the chance to gauge the type of person who's applying. You're not looking to check their grammar and writing styles, but as we said, the personality and ethos of the trainer are as important, if not more so, than their qualifications.

Ask them to email you with certain subject lines, and make sure they follow the steps you clearly layout. If they can’t follow the very first steps, then what makes you think they’ll follow the others more intently? - Sam Beagle

Where to advertise the position

It's all well and good creating a good job listing, but choosing where to post it is equally important. You want as many people as possible to see the job ad, and there are plenty of ways to get exposure for the listing. From within your own company to a number of online options, we take a look at the best ways to advertise your job opening.

Post on the top job boards

We're starting with job boards because quite frankly, they are still the most effective way to get people to see your job listing. This isn't always a free option with fees for posting varying from website to website, but when it comes to getting the right person through the door and joining the team, it is worth paying the posting fees. The other benefit of using job boards is that many of them will let you create a company profile that you can then use to search through the resumés of people actively looking for jobs.

Adding your listing to job boards and job sites has an SEO benefit as well. As a business owner, finding and utilising every opportunity to improve your website's SEO is an extremely important thing to do as regularly as you can, and using your search for new coaches is a great opportunity for this. By adding your listing to the main job websites, you're creating backlinks to your website. A backlink is when another website links to your website. If, like many job boards, the website in question ranks well on Google, then having a backlink to your website will in turn help your google rankings.

Free advertising on your website

Creating a full website with a number of pages, including an "About Us" page, is good marketing for two reasons. Firstly, it tells potential clients what to expect from your classes and sessions. Secondly, it gives prospective new hires the chance to really learn about your company. This alongside your company profile in the job listing will give applicants the best opportunity to really learn about your fitness business.

With some well-structured data and SEO, including your job listing on your website also helps you get indexed by Google for Jobs. Pairing this by including your listing on a job board also helps towards this. Google for Jobs is a feature that allows businesses to have their job vacancies listed as a google search result. This is a free service, but without a website, Google will not notice your listings.

Use your social media accounts

Your social media accounts are a vital part of your marketing strategy, whether you're trying to increase your client base or hire new coaches and instructors. Advertising on Facebook is one of the most effective ways to promote your job listing, and Facebook ads will prove to be a really useful and inexpensive tool.

While Instagram and Twitter are still useful resources for advertising your job opening, and of course, Linkedin will alert your network of the job as well, Facebook is still the most widely used social media platform. You can set the demographic you want to aim your ad to, meaning your advert will be seen by people with a genuine interest in the fitness industry, and by extension, trainers, coaches, and instructors who use the platform either privately or for the purposes of following health & fitness groups and communities.

Use your current coaches to advertise the job role

Sending your job listing to your current employees is a great jumping-off point when you're trying to get the right people applying for a job. The chances are, they all know other people in the fitness industry. Whether they trained together or worked together previously, using your own staff to get the word out not only expands your reach when you're looking for new staff members, but your staff know what your ethos is. They know the type of personality that'll fit in well with the rest of the team so they're only going to approach people they know would add to your business.

Once you get the word out there that you're hiring and looking for coaches for your gym or studio, your next task is to sift through the resumés that get sent in by hopeful applicants, narrowing the list down to interviewees, and then offering the right person the position. It may seem like a lot, but you can implement some processes that will help you figure out who you want to meet, and then design your interview in such a way that you'll find that perfect candidate you've been looking for.

Sorting through the CVs and resumés

Hopefully, you'll have a plethora of CVs and resumés to go through, but that in itself poses the problem, how do you find the appropriate candidates? You can of course go through them yourself, especially if you've requested covering letters. However this is a lengthy process, but you can use a CV parser to help you go through all the resumés you receive. A CV or resumé parser is software that stores and analyses resumé data. It makes it easier for employers to find CVs and resumés that fit their brief, and it actually makes it easier for applicants to upload their information.

It's worth looking into parsing software purely for the ease of both parties. When submitting an application as a job seeker, a lengthy, convoluted process can be off-putting so being able to simply upload your CV or resumé is appealing. Similarly for business owners, knowing that intuitive software will filter applications and leave you with those that best fit your needs.

The importance of showing your team you care

Once you find the right team you need to nurture them. We talk a lot about encouraging clients and members to keep returning to achieve their fitness goals, but that all begins with retaining your coaches and instructors. Ensuring your staff feel valued, respected, and cared about is the first step in ensuring your members and clients are happy as well.

I’ve found that the better I treat my staff, the happier my clients are. It sounds simple but sometimes as owners we focus on the clients and neglect our staff. Usually, this leads to complications down the line. - Sam Beagle

You can do this really simply with clear communication. Any important information you want your staff to be aware of put it in writing and send it to their work email so it's clear what you're asking of them as well as telling them in person. Make sure all the right contracts are signed and give regular feedback and evaluations to make sure you're on the same page. Clarity when communicating is key to fostering a healthy work environment, and that leads to everyone pulling together, especially when times are tough.

I couldn’t have survived the pandemic without my team as they 100% had my back and supported all of my decisions. - Hayley Coe

To review

Hiring new coaches is a process that can take time, but with the right hiring strategy in place, you'll be able to find the right people to help take your business forward. Prioritising personality and shared values over qualifications that can be earned at a later date is key. So pre-determining the kind of person you're looking for is the first step. Advertising the job opening with a clear job description and overview of your business will help to get the applicants you want to send in their CVs and resumés, and then ensuring you have a good system to go through applications will lessen the workload on you.

Keep growing your business with these five marketing tips, and get tips and advice from some of our customers here.


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What is the best gym management software?

What is the best gym management software?