Health Club Operators Need to Foster Entrepreneurial Growth for Personal Trainers

Health club operators can help prevent trainer burnout and encourage entrepreneurial challenges and growth by fostering a growth mindset Photo by Thinkstock
<p>Health club operators can help prevent trainer burnout and encourage entrepreneurial challenges and growth by fostering a growth mindset. (Photo by Thinkstock.)</p>

Danny Meyer opened Union Square Cafe in 1985. Soon after, he realized that building a successful restaurant was more than putting good stuff on a plate and in the glass. It was more about making sure people were a little happier when they left than when they came in. And the same held true for his team.

Meyer believed that to be successful in the industry as a business owner, he had to be there 24/7. When he took time off, he felt he had to close the restaurant for the day or the week.

As Union Square Cafe grew to become one of New York's top restaurants because of his non-stop, back-breaking efforts, Meyer realized his team had maxed out their growth potential and was growing stale. His team rose to a certain level within the restaurant and that was it.

Because he had not created entrepreneurial opportunities for his staff to spread their wings and take on new challenges that would allow them to advance in their careers at the restaurant, team members began to look outside for growth and careers.

We are faced with the same dilemma in the fitness industry. A lack of entrepreneurial growth within our facilities is causing our trainers to burn out and leave the profession.

As leaders in our facilities, we need to spend some time focused on creating opportunities inside our box rather than always being focused on conquering the world outside our box.

The typical career path for a personal trainer generally looks like this:

  • In their 20s: Trainers are eager to get a full book of clients to train 10 to 12 hours per day. They think this is as good as it gets. Life is awesome because they wear shorts and can always get a workout in while their friends sit in cubicles.
  • In their 30s: Early mornings and late evenings begin to wear on them. They start to reconsider their training career because they are still training 10 to 12 hours per day. While their friends are spending time with their friends and family, trainers have to go back to the gym and dive back into the trenches.
  • In their 40s and 50s: They realize that the only possible "reward" for 10 to 12 hours per day of training is to one day become a fitness manager/sales manager (while still putting in the early morning and late evening hours). They have little time to spend growing their family because they are always at the gym. Life in shorts and working out daily starts to lose its appeal.

Once this burden becomes too much (different stages of life for each), the trainer looks for other opportunities outside the industry to have a 'normal' job and find a career path that allows them to have a life as well.

Can you imagine reaching your 40s and 50s and realizing you have to change professions to finish out your career? What would starting over do to you mentally? How would it affect your family? Why would you ever want to work in a profession where you have to make an industry move after working 10 to 15 or more years?

Our role as a leader is to foster a growth mindset and constantly challenge our team to ask "What if?" when it comes to their career path. Leaders can get to the heart of the matter by asking the following critical questions:

  1. How can we accelerate entrepreneurial growth within our team?
  2. How can we achieve breakthrough entrepreneurial performance with our team?
  3. How can we embrace the entrepreneurial spirit in our team?
  4. How can we develop entrepreneurial talent in a fast-changing club environment?

Everyone's answers to these questions will vary depending on your facility, but your answers will help you take decisive action and achieve sustainable results in the lives of those trainers who dedicate so much of their personal lives to growing your club's mission. 

How do you think you can help your trainers find a true career path at your facility? Share what you are doing in the comment section below. 

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