Top 5 Staffing Mistakes Gym Owners Make

He’s a great athlete so I’m sure he’d make a great coach.”

“She’s not the best employee in the world, but I’m stuck because I don’t have a replacement.”

“He’s a nice guy, so I’ll give him one more chance.”

Ever hear yourself saying stuff like this?

Then it’s likely you’re making some of the same staff management mistakes that have caused me a lot of disappointment and frustration at my box.

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

Below are 5 mistakes you can now choose to avoid instead of learning each lesson the hard way — like I did!


Coaches rarely have all the skills they need when they first come to us.

It’s our job to teach them these skills if we want to have a killer staff. What you should really be looking for in a new coach is potential.

Base your decisions about potential coaches on the following:

– Do they work out in your group classes?

– Do they stay after class to work on mobility?

– Are they friendly and social with the community?

– Have they signed up or plan to sign up for a Level 1 cert?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to several of the previous questions, then the prospective coach in question has more potential than another candidate you just “have a good feeling about.”


I know we’ve all seen some of the people who show up to some of these certifications. I remember one participant who showed up at my cert that had never done trained this particular method, was horribly out of shape and admitted that the only reason he was at the cert was because he wanted to open up his own gym. He had a long way to go in becoming a great coach.

Always hire from within. Those that understand your program and believe in it enough to pay your premium rates are the people that you want to consider as potential coaches.


Don’t get so excited about your first prospective coach that you hand him or her the entire 40 page Instructor Training Program (ITP) Guide and say “read this.”

I made that mistake and scared away two potential coaches because they got overwhelmed.

Try this instead: create some context for the ITP first by hosting a one-hour meeting for anyone curious about the program. Use this time to explain to them why this is such a great opportunity and to answer their questions. Then, for those who are truly on board, you can give them the tools to get started.

If a prospective coach balks at the 40 pages of reading, at this point, then you know this is not a great candidate for ITP.


Business owners should never risk results because they’re focused on protecting someone’s feelings.

You may feel sorry for a potential coach that has been in the ITP program for 6 months and still isn’t ready to be on the floor, but giving them their own class anyway is a mistake.

Your processes need to be based on successful business practices that can be duplicated and replicated. So always be sure that all of your coaches also excel at what you do so well.

Remember, it’s the consistent level of professionalism at your gym that makes students willing to pay top dollar.

Your members respect you for your entire staff’s expertise, and professionalism; don’t ruin that because you feel bad for a coach who isn’t fully developed. Develop that person into an excellent coach instead. Then maybe… just maybe… you can put them ‘on the floor.’


If the people who are running your classes aren’t fulfilling their duties, FIRE them.

I read on the discussion forum last week that a particular coach didn’t show up to teach her class and then had the audacity to take a class as a student a couple of hours later! The owner was struggling with whether to keep this person on staff.

If you have to ask that question, then I seriously ask yourself if this is something you want to do for the rest of your life by yourself. There’s no room for mediocrity in a successful gym.

If you’re like me, your whole life is dependent on the success of your business, so don’t let anyone ruin something that important for you.

That’s my top 5! Hope you find some value in this list.

Remember to have fun with the process. Attracting the right coaches is essential to the success of your business, so make sure the environment at your box appeals to the kind of staff who want to enjoy working for their success as much as you do.

Original article was written for The BIZ

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