The ‘Always On’ Recruitment Mindset

With the industry’s current recruitment challenges, it’s never been more valuable to understand the benefits of having an ‘always on’ recruitment mindset. Tino Lena from the Trainer Recruitment Network, explains.

Recruiting and retaining quality personal training and group exercise staff is crucial for the success of fitness businesses. Recent research by MINDBODY has shed light on the impact fitness instructors have on client retention, highlighting the importance of effective recruitment strategies. However, the current economic environment and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic have presented significant challenges for the fitness industry’s recruitment efforts. In this article, we will explore the importance of maintaining an “always on” mindset for recruitment and provide strategies for building a successful and sustainable recruitment funnel in the fitness industry.

The Impact of Fitness Instructors on Client Retention

MINDBODY’s research reveals that personal trainers (PTs) are considered the most critical factor in ensuring individuals stick to their exercise routines, with one in five people emphasising their significance. Personal training studios, on average, have an impressive 80 per cent retention rate. Moreover, a study conducted by Stanford University demonstrated that receiving just one motivational training session per week resulted in a remarkable 78 per cent increase in gym members’ activity levels.

Recruitment Challenges in the Current Economic Environment

Recruitment across all roles in the fitness industry has become increasingly challenging due to various factors. The combination of a low 3.5 per cent employment rate, an 18-month backlog on international visas, and the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm for the fitness industry’s recruitment challenges. The cancellation of face-to-face classes during the lockdowns hindered the traditional recruitment pathway of fitness Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). Consequently, a 2-year cohort of approximately 20,000 students was unable to graduate with Certificates III and IV in Fitness, resulting in a potential loss of up to 12,000 graduates over the 24-month period.

The lockdowns also led to a significant attrition rate of 30 per cent among existing personal trainers who were unable to access gyms and had to seek alternative sources of income. Unfortunately, this attrition could not be replenished by new course graduates due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Fitness RTOs have also experienced a decline in new enrolments, with a reduction of approximately 30 per cent post-COVID. To mitigate future risks, many RTOs have shifted to online-only courses, which have encountered higher withdrawal rates and difficulties in completing assignments.

Always On Recruiting: The Essential Mindset

Given the substantial impact of personal training and group fitness on member retention and engagement, fitness businesses must adopt an ‘always on’ recruitment strategy. Gone are the days when gyms could rely on placing ads on job platforms to attract suitable candidates. With near full employment, limited immigration opportunities, and a reduced talent pool, the fitness industry must be proactive in its recruitment efforts for at least the next 24 months.

Recruitment Challenges in the Current Economic Environment

Recruit from within

Encourage members who know and love your brand to become passionate advocates and join your staff. Offer training and mentorship programs to facilitate their growth.

Market on all platforms

Utilise various job platforms such as, HealthyPeople, and local job service providers to expand your reach and attract diverse talent.

Monetise recruitment

Establish your own academy to train and develop personal trainers and group fitness instructors. Additionally, consider offering incentives for successful referrals to RTOs.

Recruit staff to become mentors

Encourage experienced personal trainers and group fitness instructors to mentor newcomers. This not only aids in their professional development but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and support within your business.

Ask for visibility from RTOs

When referring members to RTOs, establish a communication channel to receive updates on their progress. This will enable you to plan future recruitment efforts more effectively and align them with the availability of qualified graduates.

Recruit fitness students for all roles

Recognise that individuals with an interest in fitness can bring valuable skills and knowledge to roles beyond personal training or group fitness instruction. Consider recruiting fitness-minded individuals for administrative positions, with the potential for them to transition into fitness staff upon graduation.

Adopting an ‘always on’ mindset for recruitment is essential, particularly in this current economic environment. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the scarcity of qualified candidates, building a sustainable and consistent recruitment funnel for all roles within your business is vital for ongoing staff and member retention. By implementing strategies such as recruiting from within, utilising multiple job platforms, collaborating with RTOs, and hosting career events, fitness businesses can overcome recruitment obstacles and ensure a continuous supply of quality talent. With a well-developed recruitment process in place, fitness businesses can thrive and contribute to the long-term success of the industry.


Tino Lena

Tino is the Chief Executive Officer of the Trainer Recruitment Network, which includes SR PT Education and SR PT Recruitment.