What do Fit Pros Want From Their Leaders?

In one word: growth! A commonality among fitness professionals of all age groups and levels of experience is that they have a greater chance of connecting with and being loyal to an employer who cares about their growth.

Leaders who grapple with the struggle of expecting full-time commitment from part-time staff need to consider what they have to offer their teams beyond a steady paycheck. The great news is that providing opportunities for our staff to grow doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive or time-consuming, but it does involve three key elements.

  • Learning

There seems to be a battle brewing at hiring fitness clubs for the biggest education allowance and although it might attract new candidates seeking “support” from their employer, it can translate to a lot of spending without the right return on investment.

Before spending a dollar of your club’s money and an hour of your employee’s time, finding out what truly matters to their growth will ensure you both benefit from the education you subsidize.

Spend some one on one time with your staff in order to get a better understanding of the targeted development you can support related to:

  • Their knowledge, skills, and abilities
  • Their goals and desires
  • Their preferred learning styles

Having these conversations every few months with your staff not only demonstrates that you care about their career growth and how it connects to your business goals, but also ensures you keep up with how our face-paced industry influences their desires.

It’s important to remember that most fitness professionals aren’t looking for typical “corporate” development conversations i.e. asking with their 5-year goals are. Instead, ask them two relevant questions:

  • What are they most passionate about right now?
  • What are they excited to learn next?


  • Mentoring

The role of a mentor is to have career focused discussions that develop the mentee to explore new opportunities and build their confidence, in order to have a clearer direction of their career. The simplest way to embody that role is to lead by example. Clearly communicating your values and principles will inspire your team to stay true to their own raison-d’être, their “why”.

Once you feel that you are living and leading based on your values you can prioritize time for mentoring your team. Remembering that fair does not mean equal, some of your staff members will receive more of your time. Far too often we spend a lot of time (training, managing the performance, worrying, etc.) with staff members who are clearly under-performing to the extent that they are damaging the team and its success. We also dedicate time to our top performers as they normally obtain results-oriented rewards and recognition.

Consider your “high potentials”; the ones who are doing well but not top performers and are prime candidates for your mentorship. Investing in those relationships would lead to impactful results in your business as well as improve their engagement and likelihood of them remaining on your team.

  • Providing Safety to Try

Once provided with an opportunity to learn with a mentor, your staff will thrive thanks to their new education if they are provided with the safety to try something new. This means they are confident in your trust that they will falter and perhaps fail yet get back up and keep trying until they succeed.

None of us have ever tried something new that we had just learned and got it right the first time and each time after that. Yet as leaders we sometimes communicate, both through our words and actions, that are expectations revolve around perfection.

Sharing that we trust them throughout the learning process and giving them permission to misstep while in the safe environment of our facility will both accelerate the hands-on learning process and allow for true growth to take place.

There is a difference between learning and growth; growth is applied learning and comes from trial and error. Creating an environment where staff feel safe to try new things while their mentor provides valuable feedback along the way is key to making the most out of any educational investment.

Fitness professionals have more employment options that ever before in our industry and hiring has become incredibly competitive. Demonstrating genuine caring for their growth and providing an optimistic environment where they can hone their craft will have a positive impact not only on hiring the best candidates but also retaining the top members of our team.

Nathalie is a mover, shaker, and joie de vivre giver! She blends her 25 years of international fitness experience with her degrees in psychology and exercise science to passionately connect with fitness professionals.

After a decade as an executive at canfitpro, Canada’s leading fitness education body, she left it all to move closer to family and launch the second half of her career. Nathalie now dedicates herself to coaching leaders and managers in the fitness industry towards mindfully built strategies to run your business from a place of trust, optimism, and joy.

To find out more about how you can thrive in your career join Nathalie at live events or online coaching.


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