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Lifecycle of a Personal Trainer: the high cost of low skills training

At one time, personal trainers had the coolest job around, and anyone who had their own personal trainer was ranked among the beautiful people. It was also a lucrative and viable career path for fitness professionals who had enough knowledge and charisma to attract well-heeled clients and help them reach their goals. 

That all changed when gyms began to put the hammer down on freelancers and hired their own trainers at low wages, keeping the lion’s share of revenues for themselves. Over time, that business model all but destroyed personal training as a sustainable career path and caused gym owners to shoot themselves in the foot with a costly cycle of employee training and turnover. 

The below infographic illustrates the typical Lifecycle of the average personal trainer:

Lifecycle of a Personal Trainer

The High Cost of Turnover

Low conversions, low client retention rates, dissatisfied customers and high trainer turnover all cost gym owners enormous amounts of money each year.

These important metrics should be applied to evaluate the performance of any gym’s personal training program:

  • The annual turnover rate for personal trainers runs between 80-90% on average: the optimal employee turnover rate is 10% or less.
  • The minimally acceptable sales conversion rate is 40%, and the optimal rate is 70%. To calculate this metric, divide the number of conversions by the number of prospects a trainer has pitched.
  • The optimal annual client retention rate is 80-90%. Divide the number of clients lost by the number retained.

Ironically, most gym owners don’t bother to track these metrics, and many are unaware of them. For trainers, having quantitative performance metrics would empower them to self-evaluate and monitor their own job performance. Yet in most cases, trainers have no idea what good job performance looks like. 

Factors Contributing to Trainer Turnover

Many people pursue a personal training career because they have a true passion for fitness and want to share it with others. Yet the actual demands of the job can quickly erode a new trainer’s enthusiasm, especially if they don’t feel valued or get the necessary training and support to succeed. 

Factors that contribute to high trainer turnover include:

  • Inadequate job training and poorly defined performance criteria
  • Erratic scheduling, with long hours and split shifts
  • Low pay, with minimal opportunities for advancement
  • Pressure to sell with inadequate sales training and support
  • Burnout from overtraining

The Importance of Skills Training

Most new trainers are hired based on academic credentials, or on a particular brand of certification. Yet during the screening and hiring process, critical skills training and experience is often overlooked. 

This problem partially stems from an antiquated business model that is still applied today. In the early days of fitness clubs, back in the 1970s, very few employees came to the table with any type of credentials or experience, and skills training took place on the job. In most cases, senior employees were responsible for training new hires. Then, as now, gym employee turnover was high.

The old-school model no longer works for several reasons: 

  • Personal training was not offered as a service by most gyms until the early 2000s, but the business model was never updated to include this new employee demographic
  • The job of Personal Trainer demands much higher levels of knowledge and skills than the fitness advisor of old
  • Personal training is a substantial revenue generator, and demands more attention from management to reach its potential
  • Asking a senior trainer to help on-board a new hire imposes an inherent conflict of interest, since trainers often compete for new clients

 

It makes sense to hire new trainers who already possess knowledge, skills and experience. Doing so will increase conversions, elevate client retention rates and reduce costly employee turnover, resulting in higher profits. 

Skills Training for Personal Trainers

If you are serious about building a successful and sustainable fitness career, don’t cut corners on your certification. Get the support, knowledge and hands-on experience you need to succeed with a fitness certification from W.I.T.S.

Advantages of a W.I.T.S. certification include: 

  • Fully NCCA accredited: The only practical skills competency exam in the industry, along with our written exam.
  • Recognized by employers nation-wide: Graduates that perform!
  • Available in colleges, universities and online.
  • Taught by qualified and experienced industry professionals.
  • Internship program available to cement your skills.
  • Friendly customer service and support.
  • Online continuing education at your fingertips.

Find Your Niche and Build Your Fitness Career

Build your skills and knowledge and become a top trainer. Choose from any of our professional fitness course for skills training and certification:

Join the W.I.T.S. family of industry leaders today, and build your fitness career on a solid foundation.

 

 

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