Searching for new gym staff
versus training new gym staff

With recruitment challenges running rampant within our industry, it’s time to take a look at the difference between searching for new gym staff versus training new gym staff.

The Australian fitness industry doesn’t seem to be able to catch a breath lately. We go from crisis to crisis without time to reflect on what’s happening. It is like we are in constant HIIT mode.

Here at Fit Education, we receive daily emails and phone calls asking for graduates. Personal trainers, group fitness instructors and gym instructors are desperately needed to cover the influx of clients to the gyms. After months of lockdowns, the population is more aware than ever, of the importance of physical health and mental wellbeing. But while people are embracing fitness, we don’t have enough people to welcome them to our gyms!

A gym is only as good as the people working in it

Building a successful gym is like building a community of like-minded people, with a common goal and a shared perspective on fitness. Adding someone new to this community who is not ready or motivated, is a recipe for disaster.

It’s certainly not a great experience for the new staff member and if they’re not a great fit, it can alienate existing staff and members. That’s why recruiting urgently to cover a position is likely to be more harmful than helpful. In many situations, placing the wrong person in the role is even worse than having no person at all.

We’ve lost a lot of people from the fitness industry

As a result of the pandemic, a lot of people had to be let go. Many fitness professionals had to reinvent themselves and have moved into non-fitness related jobs. The closure of borders has also had an impact – both on the entry of international talent into our industry and even the movement between states.

With increased competition from within and outside our industry, many professionals and graduates can afford to be particular about the type of roles they’ll accept. There are so many jobs for them to choose from. Some gyms are so desperate for trainers, they will lower the entry requirements to the role. Finding the right person, with the right knowledge and the right character to fit in our gym, is becoming very challenging.

With a proactive approach to recruitment, you’ll be developing a pipeline of candidates that are ready to step into your available roles

a proactive solution to a recruitment problem

What if we start the search by removing the hardest variable in the equation? Don’t look for a graduate with a Certificate III and IV in Fitness. Look first for someone with the right character and the right attitude to fit in your gym, and then educate them, train them, and help them get their Certificate III and IV in Fitness.

The new students would start helping at your gym straight away, while he/she studies with a Registered Training organisation (RTO). Gym and RTO, hand-in-hand, will share the responsibility and supervision of the practical, logbooks and theory parts of the courses. The new staff learns not just how to be a good group fitness instructor, gym instructor or personal trainer, but how to be great in your specific gym, with your methods and your systems.

Agreed, this approach does require a little forward planning, but not as much as you might think. Students preparing under mentorship programs with a gym are usually considerably more motivated to complete their course. You’d be surprised how fast they can smash through their units when the objective is clear – four to six months is not unrealistic to finish one or even both certificates. And when these students graduate, they already know how your gym works, so there’s no adaptation time. They can hit the ground running.

Training a new professional can be a relatively quick and easy way to onboard a new team member and have them job ready within months. All you need to do is identify candidates with the right attitude and enthusiasm, then team up with an RTO to curate a mentorship program that suits the specific needs of your gym.

With a proactive approach to recruitment, you’ll be developing a pipeline of candidates that are ready to step into your available roles. This will minimise the danger of emergency placements, as well as limit your exposure to a highly competitive recruitment environment.



Robert is the Fitness Industry Liaison for Fit Education (RTO 32155 | CRICOS 03804F), where he is responsible for building and maintaining professional relationships with fitness businesses. To contact Robert about how to create a Mentoring Program for your gym, email [email protected].