Part 1 of 2
For as long as I have been teaching in gyms, the personal training and group X departments have been seen as separate in both purpose and function.
The goal of a personal trainer is to gain clients through the club or self-promotion and help individuals through private or small group trainings.
Their work could be measured (monetised) by the number of trainings they generate and their contribution to the club’s bottom line.
The fitness instructor’s focus is to provide education and inspiration to a room full of students who enjoy the camaraderie and reap the benefits of a supportive and enthusiastic community.
Although some members may join a club just for group X classes, it can be difficult to know what percentage of the club’s profits can be attributed to group class participation. All involved are striving for the common goal of optimal customer service and helping clients reach their fitness goals, but there may be instances when these departments feel and act divided.
A gym that encourages a synergistic approach where trainers, group X and all other staff support each other not only benefits emotionally, but financially as well.
If you are not already actively encouraging your employees to get to know each other and work together, here are some ideas that might help you facilitate some quick changes.
1 – Integration Departments
Personal trainers don’t often recommend that their clients take group programs to enhance their gym experience. Actually, if their schedule allows it, trainers should try to attend classes with their clients. This could increase the opportunity for success for all involved. It would give the group instructor an opportunity to connect with the trainer and see their skill level. Group X instructors are more likely to recommend a particular trainer they get to know, especially one who takes an interest in GF formats.
Managers should encourage both teams to get to know each other. This can be done by simply paying or otherwise incentivising the PT team to take group X classes, and for group X teachers to get trained by a member of the personal training staff.
Criss-cross training is one of the easiest ways to get your departments to appreciate each other and have them experience what the other does first hand.
The return of getting your employees working together and recommending each other’s services could just be worth it.
2 – Team Teaching
We all have different styles of teaching, and we can all learn from actively watching others first hand.
Instructors have the gift of being able to control and motivate a crowd. Personal trainers know how to evaluate the individual, and provide essential coaching tips. All of these qualities are important to motivate and train students and clients.
The best way for group X and PT departments to learn from each other, gain respect, and support one another, is to work together.
Co-teaching works great for boot camps, circuit classes, cycling, rowing, or any class that could benefit from additional demonstration, coaching, and energy. This scenario would also be great for SGT (small group training) and specialty workouts. When two partner together, the entire group benefits from the playfulness, positive competitiveness, and extra pair of eyes and hands. For the teachers involved, there is an opportunity to make a deeper connection, share the stage, and learn how to cooperate with others.
3 – Encourage Mentoring
Nothing elevates the quality and level of classes and PT sessions more than mentoring.
Yes, it is important to take educational workshops outside the facility, but having a personal mentor who knows the clientele and has years of applicable experience is incredibly valuable, both to rookie teachers and the more experienced ones.
When you partner the right two people together, it can streamline the adjustment period of a newbie and help propel them. It also gives veterans the chance to impart knowledge that will elevate the entire staff. Why should the seasoned PT participate?
It gives them an opportunity to find a great substitute when needed and also allows them to practice their presenting, communication, delegation, and teaching skills.
Mentoring is a form of giving back to your fitness community
4 – Charity Events
Set a great example for your clients, employees, and local businesses by participating in charity events.
Host a fundraiser, community walk, day event, or long term charitable campaign.
Start small and see how your members respond. Have team members from all areas of the gym work together to choose a favourite charity and take charge in running things.
Everyone will benefit from the boost in camaraderie, while also giving back, which will change the mood in the gym from self-focused to working as a community with a larger purpose.
5 – Special Training Projects
There are so many fun competitions and interesting events offered to fitness enthusiasts these days, like Spartan and Mud Runs, cycling, combo competitions, relays, endurance races, etc.
Although people may be interested in a specific event, they might not know what it takes to start, to train, or just to participate. This can be a great opportunity to create a training program to help guide members through the entire process.
Having a gym-sponsored group is a wonderful way to provide a team building opportunity that is a win-win situation for all involved.
Assign roles or get volunteers from the Group X and PT departments to co-run events. Have them participate, coordinate the social media, and plan extra-curricular activities to support the training. You can build the cost of paying the team leaders into the training program and perk your instructors with the extra project.
6 – Content Exchange
Although I have not seen this technique of team building for a really long time, one of my favourite ways to connect with my coworkers was to have a content mixer meeting.
At this exchange, instructors would come together and review protocol, share new industry information, and interchange ideas and choreography.
Try assigning one person, or better yet partner people up, for the job of presenting a specific topic, something they learned at a recent conference, or just be in charge of the focus of the information for that session.
This could be done monthly, quarterly, or anytime, and include different departments.
There is so much information to filter through and share, and both teams of trainers and exercise instructors would benefit from the collaborations…
PART 2 of Building A Supportive Team is right here…
Article written by Aileen Sheron for the What’s New in Fitness Summer 2019 Edition.
Image courtesy of My Fit Station.