How to Hire & Train a Fitness Manager

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As you may know I set a new business goal to hit 1,000 sessions a month within a year. It’s a big goal and I realized I did not have any hours left in my day to accomplish this dream. I also knew that there’s no way I could pay someone a salary of $3-4K a month for a position without additional money coming in yet. So, here’s exactly how I came up with a solution that doesn’t cost me a penny unless we bring in more sessions. It’s an unbelievable strategy that everyone needs to be implementing in order to grow their business with adding any more hours or headaches to their already busy schedule:

I think you’re really going to enjoy reading this post since it’s been a tremendous part of my personal training business growth strategy.

Plus, as with my other exclusive S3 Member posts I always wait to write to you about my business systems and marketing tactics until I’ve proven them to work. They also have to save you time while making more money or they never make it to this site.

I don’t want to overload you with filler posts just for the sake of adding more content – more is not better… Better is better and that’s what I have for you today!

So about 3 months ago the goal of hitting 1,000 sessions a month just wouldn’t leave my head. I’ll be honest with you – it’s always been a dream of mine, but the number just didn’t seem feasible on a 500 ft fitness floor that is maxed out with 4 clients at any given time.

I also have about a dozen other projects going on that include publishing a massive 310 page strength training book along with a new study/research program I decided to undertake…

Like I said, I’m out of hours left in my day…

Knowing that fact I kept pushing this “1,000 sessions a month goal” out of my head, but it just wouldn’t submit.

To me that’s a great indication that it’s a real passion or true dream that must be undertaken. Therefore, I decided to stop fighting it and instead sat down one day in a quiet cafe to figure out how I could realistically map out and accomplish this dream of mine.

I knew I could only make it happen if I figured out how to hire a reliable fitness manager. This new fitness manager had to:

* Not cost me any additional money out of pocket

* Make me feel comfortable enough to leave the studio to them to run as their own (I now only work in the studio until 1pm daily – that was my last goal!)

* Be able to hire and train new CPTs

* Be excellent at handling all studio paperwork (invite a group in for a weekend seminar as a day in the life… Like mentorship)

* Take care of bi-weekly payroll (I still write the checks every other Friday after double checking the numbers)

* Juggle multiple small studio tasks like taking out the trash, sweeping up, restocking office supplies, buying bathroom toiletries, etc

I also knew that the perfect candidate may not know how to do all these things I needed right away, so I did plan a 3 week transition period where I would work with them daily to have them shadow me so they could learn the ropes.

(They basically sat down beside me and took concise notes while my assistant or I would complete each studio task.)

The other thing was that I needed someone I could ABSOLUTELY TRUST. Most of all, this new fitness manager had to be a loyal all around good person who didn’t cut corners.

I’m a big details guy and I can tolerate mistakes, but not the repetition of the same mistake. As I tell my team, “I will never get mad if you make a mistake… We will just show you the right way after the mistake happens, but then we need to make sure it is learned so that it never happens again.”

This is one of the reasons why I believe my studio’s system (Smart Studio Systems) run so well. My team is trained on the job and can ask as many questions as they want and make as many mistakes as they like, BUT they can only make them once.

If they make them a 2nd time we have a little sit down conversation to figure out why it happened again and what system we can implement in order for it to not happen again. It’s not a scolding, but you and I don’t get paid enough to babysit CPTs and luckily if you hire right you’ll never have to.

I taught this lesson to my new fitness manager as well…

Okay, so this is how I hired my new fitness manager in a way that didn’t cost me anything extra per month:

The first thing I did was look at my current CPT team members at my studio. All of them have been with me for quite awhile and I didn’t think it would be right to bring in an outside person if they were interested in the position.

(Side Note: You don’t have to hire from within your company since you could just create a sweet ad that states you are looking for a fitness manager “slash” CPT who you are looking to hire and mentor to grow within your company… It would work either way and you’d probably get current fitness managers from other gyms to apply.)

So what I did was write them this email letting them know there would be an opening at the studio for a fitness manager.

Here’s the email:

SCS Fitness Manager

Stephen Cabral Studio in Boston, MA is looking for a dynamic fitness manager capable of handling multiple responsibilities. You will be asked to manage (but not micro-manage) a highly qualified team of in-home and studio personal trainers, as well as the daily studio upkeep.

Our goal is to reach 1,000 sessions per month and to be able to help 200 full-time clients on a consistent basis. This 1,000 sessions will encompass both in and out of studio sessions.

SCS Fitness Manager Responsibilities Include:

* Hiring new fitness professionals
* Training new fitness professionals
* Inputting client invoices
* Contacting and following up with leads
* Creating new in-home and corporate leads
* Managing the offline marketing & orders
* Filing invoice folders
* Checking & confirming payroll numbers
* Following up with missing paperwork with CPTs
* Send out studio client newsletter (in house & online)
* Print up articles for members

SCS Fitness Manager Qualifications:

* Ability to handle multiple projects at once
* Upbeat, fun, likable
* Leadership qualities
* Macro, not micro-manager (our team is comprised of fitness professionals)
* Neat and organized
* Professional in all manners
* Lead by example

The SCS Fitness Manager will work with clients, as well as manage the studio. Managerial duties consist of approximately 90 minutes per day. Although the time taken is not lengthy, each task is of the utmost importance and must be treated as such.

Also, the 90 minutes may not occur consecutively. Most projects will take about 30 minutes, with about 1-3 projects per day.

Examples may include:

Monday: Inputting client invoices & new email address in CMS
Tuesday: Following up with new larger corporate leads & rack cards
Wednesday: Ordering office supplies & emailing team
Thursday: Training session with new trainer & marketing plan
Friday: Payroll, bank deposit, and planning for next week

SCS Fitness Manager Compensation:

As stated before this position will include client training sessions, your monthly sessions bonus, as well as a paid position as the SCS Fitness Manager.

You will be paid a flat fee of $500 per month, but the real compensation comes from your bonus on all sessions completed over 700 sessions each month.

Additional compensation details will be available upon application and interview.

*To apply email with a 1 page statement of why you believe you would make a good candidate for the position and how you can help the studio reach 1,000 sessions per month.

<end email>

>>> Download this Fitness Manager Email and Word Doc

I think they appreciated being asked even if they weren’t interested in the position.

The next thing I did was set up interviews with each candidate
. I asked each one to bring a formally typed up plan of how they would be able to get us from about 720-760 sessions per month to 1,000 sessions. I wanted to hear their ideas and at the very least see how they handled their first task of having to write up a simple business plan for bringing in 25% more business.

This task also immediately showed each candidate that this position of building the business would fall largely on them. So once they realized this some of my CPTs dropped out of the running right away realizing it was going to be too much stress and work (imagine that?).

However, after weeding everyone out I got the guy I wanted anyway…

Keep in mind I knew well ahead of time who the ideal person was since my team had been interviewing for this position for the past few years (unbeknownst to them of course).

Here’s what I mean:

Anyone can put on a good song and dance when someone’s formally watching, but it’s what you do when you think no one’s watching is what counts. I see everything that goes on at my studio and if someone empties the trash, refills the water, and does the other small things without me asking them, then I know that person is someone who adds value to the studio and is going above and beyond just training clients.

That’s the type of person I want to groom to take the reins from me when I’m not at the studio…

It’s also the type of person I want to help make more and more money as well as give them a little something extra so that they always feel that they are growing with the studio.

Remember that if you don’t help your CPTs grow then they will potentially look elsewhere (I know this to be a fact since I get a lot of CPTs applying to my studio who have maxed out their potential at other clubs)

After I offered my CPT, Julian, the position I went over his responsibilities and pay again to be certain he was up for the task. (You almost want to talk people out of the position so that you see if they’re committed. This saves you hours and weeks of training someone if they are only going to decide down the road that it’s not what they expected.)

Here is what I told Julian a sample weekly list of studio managerial tasks would look like:

Weekly SCS Fitness Manager Duties

Monday: (3:30-5:00pm)

Check voicemail and call back comps, etc
Inputting client invoices
Add new email address in CMS
Meet with new CPTs
Take trash out after 6:00pm

Tuesday: (3:30-5:00pm)

Check voicemail and call back comps, etc
File invoice folders
Following up with new larger corporate leads
Check on Rack cards, posters, etc.

Wednesday:  (9:00 – 10:30am)

Check voicemail and call back comps, etc
Replace articles and new client folders
Weekly meeting with me for 30 minutes

Thursday: (3:30-5:00pm)

Check voicemail and call back comps, etc
Training session with new trainer & marketing plan
Sweep studio floor

Friday: (3:30-5:00pm)

Check voicemail and call back comps, etc
Payroll (every other Friday)
Bank deposit
Planning for next week
Add waters in refrigerator
Add paper towels in bathroom dispenser
Add soap to bathroom dispenser
Throw out food/drinks from refrigerator

Weekly Miscellaneous tasks:

* Pick up office and bathroom supplies as needed
* Ask CPTs to update 700 Club as needed
* Keep studio looking professional and neat
* Following up with New CPTs with encouragement

< end tasks sheet>

>>> Download Fitness Manager Duties

For completing these tasks he would be paid $500 per month. A flat fee for about 90 minutes of work per day, Monday through Friday. This equates to about $20 an hour. Now, he makes $55 per 45-minute session, so obviously this deal is terrible for him. However he sees the bigger picture and understands the true payoff which is this:

(Before I go on I wanted to let you know that I let go of my studio assistants who came in a few days per week to take care of many of the items Julian will now being doing. Therefore, I’m only paying Julian about $100 more per month than I had been paying my $8-10/hr assistants… See how I’m really not losing any money?)

Now here’s how Julian gets paid in the long run:

We charge $89 per session and I make about $35-40 per session depending on what the CPT gets paid (new hires start out at less).

Julian’s deal is that he gets paid a percentage of all sessions completed over $700 per month. This insures that I’m really only paying him on new business that comes in and so again I’m not losing any profit.

Yes, some months I have done up to 763 sessions but usually it has been around 720. That means he may pick up a percentage on those 20 sessions, but once you look at how I have it set up that 20 sessions is not a big deal.

This is how I structured his new fitness manager compensation package:

SCS Fitness Manager

SCS Fitness Manager Compensation:

1. As stated before this position will include client training sessions, your monthly sessions bonus, as well as a paid position as the SCS Fitness Manager.

2. You will be paid a flat fee of $500 per month, plus a bonus on all sessions completed over 700 sessions.

3. Pay raise to $56 and $48 per session

4. Bonus Structure:

700-799: $5 x 99 sessions = $495 a month

800-899: $8 x 199 sessions = $1,592 a month

900-999: $9 x 299 sessions = $2,691 a month

1,000+: $10 x 399 sessions = $3,999 a month

5.  Compensation Breakdown

140 client sessions a month (about 33 a week): $7,420/mo ($53 average)
(4 weeks off included: Add $1,749 for additional weeks worked)

Client training bonus: $100-$250 ($100)

SCS Fitness Manager flat fee: $500

1,000+ sessions a month: $3,000

Monthly Compensation Total (estimate): $11,020+/month

Yearly Compensation Total (estimate): $132,240+/year

(1st year estimate is $9,612/month and $115,344/year)

< end compensation >

>>> Download the Fitness Manager Compensation Sheet

As you can see Julian will be making quite a bit of money… BUT only when we as a studio hit our goal of 1,000 sessions a month!

Please fee free to model this for your own business. It works phenomenally well and unlike big health clubs or studios who think they need to just pay a fitness manager $36,000-$48,000 a year you won’t be in the negatives right out of the gates. Plus, that model is just not bright to begin since with 3K a month as a salary is a ton of overhead to pay someone who has no skin in the game…

Julian also had to block off 90 minutes per day in his schedule, as well as begin to transfer a few of his clients to a new CPT in order to free up some time to bring in new business.

Of course, I don’t want him to make less money (even starting out), so I still allow him to train his clients. I just asked that he transfer his out of studio clients that were eating up precious time in travel to a new CPT who wants more sessions anyway…

It only made sense and the $500 monthly stipend made that an easy exchange.

So now Julian has time to weed out new hire candidates and interview them. He has my hiring criteria and if they make it through him then I do the final interview and hire each CPT.

The great news is that we’ve already hired a new CPT who already hit over 82 sessions last month… Not too shabby right?

Plus, they covered all my sessions while I was away and I made about 50% of that while I was in a different time zone!

So as you can see the plan is working and we’re on our way to 1,000 sessions a month (I’m going to throw a big team party when we hit it and I’m also going to do something really special for Smart Studio Systems Members as well!)

Of course, you may be saying that I have to give up a percentage of profit of all new sessions coming in to Julian… And you’re right.

BUT, what’s 100% of $0?

Because that’s exactly how much I’d be making if I tried to increase my personal training business sessions on my own…

I simply don’t have the time to make it happen. I’d have to give up my writing, my study, my research, or my time with my family which I’m just not willing to do.

To me giving 25% or so of all new sessions coming in a huge win-win-win. Julian makes a lot more money without having to train more clients, we get to hire new CPTs which we can mentor and they can create great careers for themselves, and I still make 75% for just being me : )

Seems pretty good, right?

I hope you answered yes, and even more importantly I hope you begin to get your own gears turning to see how you can use this same model and hire a fitness manager of your own when the time is right!

Please let me know if you have any questions (leave a comment below) in terms of hiring a fitness manager and you know I’ll get right back to you with answers on how you can build your own personal training business empire!


Comment on this Content

  • Heather Hall

    Great post Stephen! I’m only to the point where I need an assistant but definitely want to get to where I need a fitness manager. These resources will come in very handy, and hopefully i’ll need them very soon! Thanks for all your great info and have a great day!


    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks for the comment and it sounds like you’re on the right track. The $8-10/hr assistant comes first…

      Eventually you’ll “just know” when the time is right to expand and hire a fitness manager to lighten the load on your shoulders and help grow your empire!

  • 1 more thing and of course I don’t need to mention this since it applies to every post, but please keep all the confidential information and numbers that I share with you private.

    Thank you!

  • I hope you enjoyed this S3 Members Only post and keep in mind that if you only charge $50 a session or do bootcamps, etc it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is take the formula that I’m using and pay a new fitness manager a percentage of what you’re making.

    Remember there are pros and cons to working in the city. I can charge more, but there is way more competition and the rent is higher… if I was in the “burbs” I would pay less rent, have a bigger space, and only have at most 1-2 other fitness studios around me.

    You can make either work if you’re serious about building your fitness business… and I know you are!