February 1, 2023

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Hiring the right fitness staff can make or break success for your fitness facility. Therefore, it is imperative to thoroughly screen potential hires to ensure you employ excellent personal trainers and group fitness instructors to represent your fitness organization. Here are three tips for how you can ensure you hire quality fitness professionals:
When it comes to formalized standards to verify the quality and legitimacy of professional certifications, the fitness industry is highly underregulated.
This lack of formal regulation allows unskilled and undereducated fitness workers to gain access to the industry, putting both your patrons and business at risk. While these individuals appear qualified on paper due to listing a series of certifications, further investigation reveals that these, “certifications,” are simply online credentials they purchased.
To confirm if a potential hire’s credentials are both valid and meaningful, I recommend deferring to the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) for verification. NCCA is an independent agency that provides accreditation to certifying bodies that meet the NCCA’s established standards of quality certification content and delivery.
Hiring mangers can rest assured that potential employees possessing certifications with the NCCA stamp of approval have completed a thorough examination process prior to receiving their certifications.
Some well-known NCCA accredited fitness certifying bodies include National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, American College of Sports Medicine, and American Council on Exercise.
For a comprehensive list of other NCCA-approved certifications, please utilize their accreditation program search.
From the hiring manager’s perspective, a successful fitness employee is much more than someone who can deliver a great workout. It is one who listens, follows directions, communicates well and exemplifies professionalism.
Thus, when hiring new trainers and instructors, I evaluate interviewees on the intangibles that a resume and standard interview may not reveal. Aspects like reliability, timeliness, desire to learn and ability to apply feedback are best evaluated based upon what a candidate does versus says.
For example, upon scheduling a final interview with a candidate, I send an email specifically outlining the location address, directions, where to park and what to do when they arrive. I also provide my cellphone number in case an issue arises. I learn a lot about a candidate’s ability to follow directions and work independently based upon their reaction.
Those who read and follow the provided directions tend to be my best hires. Those who opt to call me instead of referencing the provided information tend to struggle with following directions and working independently in the role. These simple yet meaningful evaluations help to paint a more comprehensive picture of the type of employee this candidate will likely be.
The best way to determine if potential hires can rise to the demands of the position is to place them in situations they will encounter on the job and see how they respond. This allows you to see if they have the skills needed for the job, and where they’ll require additional support and development should you decide to move forward with hire.
One way I perform a simulation assessment on personal trainer applicants is by organizing a mock client training session.
In these instances, I provide the candidate with a client profile and request they design and lead the mock client through their developed exercise prescription. During the mock client session, the client will periodically interject with common disruptions that a trainer faces during a session.
These are things such as being overly talkative, refusing to do an exercise or complaining of pain during a movement. I take notes as I observe how the candidate responds to these common client behaviors. Candidates that successfully navigate the client’s realistic disruptions typically prove to be successful team members in the role.
In conclusion, while the strategies I listed above are very useful means to screen candidates for potential employment success, unfortunately, they cannot guarantee the employee will be a top hire.
The main goal is to make sure we, as hiring managers, perform our due diligence when screening candidates to greatly increase our chances of hiring quality fitness professionals.
Brittany Baldwin is the assistant director of Fitness at Florida International University (FIU). Her previous institutions of employment include the S.U.N.Y. Brockport and Creighton University. Brittany has a Master’s Degree in Recreation Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Creighton University. Over the last few years, Brittany has presented at numerous national conferences on an array of topics related to fitness and wellness program management and solutions. She is a published author of research studies as well as fitness editorial content, and currently works as an adjunct instructor for the Recreation and Sports Management department at FIU as well.
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July/August 2022
© 2022 Campus Rec Magazine. Published by Peake Media.
© 2022 Campus Rec Magazine. Published by Peake Media.
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