5 Steps to Hire the Best General Manager for Your Fitness Facility

As the front-line leader of your fitness facility, the hiring of a strong general manager has become essential to the success of your business.

Gyms are customer-centric by nature, which means you’ll need an exceptional and engaging individual to provide your membership community with above and beyond experiences every time they visit your facility. This person will end up having multiple roles and responsibilities, so finding someone who can wear different hats and multitask with ease is imperative to the overall success of the gym.

But where do you start? How can you find a candidate who will put your business first? Can you trust them to make sound decisions under pressure? Who will have the same passion as you to build a community-oriented culture? Finding the right manager for your gym can be a difficult and overwhelming task at first, but it is important to remember that hiring a general manager is meant to make owners’ lives easier, not harder.

The below tips are designed to help gym owners in their search for the best manager to drive their business forward.

1. Stand out with a unique job posting. Amid today’s labor shortage is a sea of job postings that all seem to be closely related, if not exactly the same in job seekers’ eyes. When drafting your job post, be specific, targeted and fun. This is your opportunity to bring your gym’s culture to life.

For us, this means highlighting D1 Training as something beyond a gym with turf, weights and great music — explaining that we are a community of people with high character and values, and with lofty goals set to help drive us to that next level both personally and professionally. Our brand experience relies on genuine, trusting and positive relationships with our members.

By laying out a detailed job description and leaning into your gym’s culture, you’ll be more likely to attract the type of candidate you’re looking for. Pro tip: work with your current employees for their insight and feedback on drafting the post. Your post needs a “wow factor” to land “wow candidates,” and who knows better how to position this than your current stellar team of talent?

Once you’ve landed on a unique posting, you must market the job opening in the right places. Look for an opportunity to post once, but have the position shown on multiple sites. Check out sites such as CareerPlug that allow you to maximize exposure but only manage a single dashboard. This will double or triple high-quality candidates without increasing leg work on the hiring manager. 

2. Don't be afraid to invest to land this candidate. This is going to be your most important hire so create a reasonable budget to promote this position on high visibility job boards such as LinkedIn. Your biggest mistake will be assuming a referral or free post is going to garner the results you need. In order to attract top talent, you must invest in them. Financially, this means a competitive salary and bonus structure. Beyond a paycheck, you must be willing to invest your time and energy in training, coaching and motivating them to be successful.

3. Interview the smart way. Between training clients, instructing classes, assisting members and administrative duties, the day-to-day tasks of a gym manager varies. During the interview, take the time to discover if this candidate is well-rounded enough to fulfill the requirements of the position. Look for top qualities such as:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Problem solver
  • Master at conflict resolution
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Eye for detail

When interviewing, rate candidates in three categories: on paper, on the phone and in-person. If you do a simple 1 to 10 ranking for each of these three categories, you are left with a total score out of 30. This will provide you reassurance that you are making the right decision beyond a subjective gut feeling. 

4. Business experience is greater than fitness experience. Look for someone with a business background. This individual needs to understand the numbers behind the business, first and foremost. A natural trap to fall into is to focus on someone with head coach/extensive training experience. Ensure you are looking for someone who knows how to hire, fire, train and sell. Remember, it's easier to train on a specific fitness routine than it is to train someone to have business acumen. 

5. Hire slowly, fire fast. No business gets 100 percent of their picks right, but in a role as pivotal as this, the fit needs to be there immediately. Set regular check-ins to evaluate progress. If it's a month in and this hire isn't meeting or exceeding expectations, it's time to move on. 

When you follow these steps and take the time to select the best possible fit to manage your gym, the end result is more members, stronger sales and a culture of community driving bottom line results.


Cole Arranaga is vice president of sales and operations for D1 Training, a fitness franchise utilizing the five core tenets of athletic-based training to help people of all ages achieve their sport and fitness goals. D1 achieves this through three core training programs, Adult, Scholastic and Pro. Each program has subgroups within them and are based on the five athletic-based components: dynamic warm-up, performance, strength, core and conditioning, and cool down. Outside of group workouts, D1 offers one-on-one training with world-class coaches. The brand has been endorsed by the NFL Players Association as an approved training facility and is a preferred partner of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. With more than 60 locations open and more than 120 in development, D1 is delivering on its goal to train athletes who are dedicated to their fitness goals.