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System 17

Yes, we all agree that personal training is potentially a profitable line of business for our clubs. Other than saying that your club has personal training, what have you done to establish an operational platform for personal training, with a “checks and balance” system, that not only insures revenue growth, positions personal training as a service that reinforces your club's brand, but also is a service/concept that helps you retain your members?


This template was developed in 1992 in order to initially address club owner concerns that a strong personal training program would only focus on clients at the expense of the non-training club member. The System 17 response to this concern is to reposition your personal trainers into a customer relationship management (CRM) function. Items 1 through 6 (see System 17 sidebar at right) have been incorporated into System 17 to support the member-centric focus of your club's personal training program. These six items represent 35 percent of System 17 as a value-added concept.


In System 17, we delegated the CRM function to the fitness staff because they are in the best position to 1) facilitate the establishment of member goals, 2) facilitate the identification of programming options/needs that will support these member goals, and 3) facilitate the modification of programming options as member goals change. The fitness staff is ideally positioned to be the “hub” of the CRM function because they provide the four key support services outlined in the sidebar (see Fitness Staff CRM Services below). If the fitness staff is managed-up by the fitness manager vis-à-vis its new CRM function, then the staff will be ideally positioned to manage-up member wants, needs and interests. As this happens, the members will get their results. If they get their results, why would they leave?


In order for System 17 to work, your fitness manager's job description must be redefined to include not only the management of the personal training profit center, which accounts for 65 percent of System 17 (items 7 through 17), but includes the CRM role as well.

Bob Esquerre is still working “in-the-trenches” as the regional fitness director at Mercy HealthPlex in Cincinnati, OH. He can be reached at

System 17

  • Develop and manage a member retention program.
  • Fitness manager implements the new member “meet and greet” program.
  • Have an interactive/pro-active fitness floor management process.
  • Create a synergy between personal training and group exercise programming.
  • Develop monthly special events for the members vis-à-vis programming options.
  • Position personal training to support your member retention program.
  • Develop a comprehensive staffing plan.
  • Develop a selective staff recruitment program.
  • Execute trainer performance expectation agreements and/or contracts.
  • Develop and manage the client retention program.
  • Develop and manage the program design and training progression processes.
  • Identify and correct weaknesses in your trainer's skill sets.
  • Increase personal training sales at the membership point-of-sales.
  • Enhance staff professionalism and training competencies.
  • Develop and manage the personal trainer career path process.
  • Manage the MBO performance program for personal training.
  • Manage the trainer productivity improvement program.
  • Fitness Staff CRM Services

  • Initial goal-setting consultations.
  • Initial and subsequent fitness assessments.
  • Initial and subsequent program design and exercise progression support.
  • Equipment orientations.
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