those were my options, believe it or not I’d have a difficult
time deciding which one to choose.
are few things I dread, few things that make me want to curl
back up in bed and wander back off to dreamland, but whenever
I’m faced with the prospect of mining human capital within the
fitness field, I gravitate toward my pillow and the fetal position.
Don’t take this wrong. I love trainers. I love people who aspire to be great trainers.
I just hate the fact
that so many people without qualification, without credential,
without fitness passion, and without a genuine concern for others
believe that the leap to “fitness professional” requires nothing
more than an interview.
if I am going to continue to build my team, there must be some
form of scrutiny, some form of digging through the dust to find
the gold. That’s why
I leave my pillow behind and head into the lion’s den, in the
hope I’ll find some talent shining through.
Hooter’s waitress who takes aerobic classes thought she was
qualified when she saw the ad I ran for “certified, experienced
personal trainers.” The
stable worker who is muscular and loves working with horses
thought the transition to working with human beings would be
simple. The construction
worker who works out five days a week, benches 365, and was
tired of working in the Florida
sun was certain he’d be first on my “hire this person immediately”
these people are actually reading the ads prior to calling .
. . then maybe the personal training industry has not yet matured
to a level where the general populous sees it as a true career
path. Maybe the waitress, the stable hand, and the
construction worker honestly believed they were as professional,
as experienced, and as competent as anyone would have to be
to wear a shirt that says “Personal Trainer” across the back
in big bold letters. Maybe the term “fitness professional” still
needs to be defined.
although we, the working trainers who have amassed education,
validation, and experience, understand the virtues of a credible
certification, the trainers-at-large believe any interaction
with exercise waives the need for what one candidate boldly
called, “a dumb old certificate.”
the scary part. I’m in
the market again. I have
openings to fill as does my colleague, Juan Carlos Santana.
In a preliminary effort to narrow the field of
applicants, Juan Carlos and I joined forces. We sent an email to individuals who had expressed
interest in working with us, and we subsequently spent two days
conducting 10-minute interviews on the phone.
By the 15th interview we were punchy. By the 24th I saw tears in the corners
of Carlos’ eyes. By Interview
#29 we simultaneously screamed so loud I’m surprised the windows
didn’t shatter. It’s
good we stopped shortly thereafter.
The men in white coats were starting up their engines
getting ready to bring two fitness nuts into the loony ward.
screening process was grueling. That’s when the brainstorm hit. If we’re looking for trainers who have the potential
for greatness, trainers who deserve to be working side by side
with others of an exceptional caliber, we can’t possibly reach
out to them one at a time. We
decided to reach out, industry-wide, and conduct a massive hunt
for excellence in motion, for passion that can be molded into
success, for individuals with the desire to master the art of
bettering people’s lives through fitness.
we pull together the specifics of The Personal Training Apprentice
Hunt, I think there are two issues that need to be addressed
if our field overall is going to mature to a level of indisputable
Need to Mine Their Own Human Capital, to increase their worth
to others and communicate their value to potential employers
Need to Develop Strategies for Narrowing the Field
this article I’ll first address the trainers, then I’ll share
a bit of my own evolution in refining the recruiting process
in hopes it may benefit potential employers:
– leave your ego at home!
are wonderful positions available for trainers, ranging from
corporate wellness positions to highly visible members of highly
skilled training teams. There
are a growing number of “apprentice” positions as successful
trainers who built their own clienteles and opened their own
studios seek to replicate themselves by hiring.
Ask any personal training entrepreneur at that point
in his or her career what the greatest challenge is. The answer is unanimous. “Finding good trainers.”
trainers often mistakenly perceive a segment of the universe
as the whole and never see the forest through the trees. They never even have the opportunity to share
their true talents with viable employers.
Let me explain.
a highly skilled fitness professional in the mix of trainers
who secure positions with some of the major health club chains. In many high-volume clubs, a few hours of interaction
is enough to reveal that some of their trainers have flawed
perceptions of their skill sets.
Watch a few less-skilled trainers for a given period
of time and it’s easy to believe the entirety of the health
club field compromises quality for quantity. If you fall into the trap of believing that
you’re exceptional because you’re more skilled than those in
your field of vision, you run the risk of tripping over your
own ego and falling into the pit of frustrated trainers who
criticize their own field.
that any position that facilitates interaction with people seeking
positive physical change can serve as a step toward your ultimate
growth, and rather than viewing the step as the platform, view
it as a necessary foothold on your rise to the top.
With this perspective you’ll recognize that if you’re
the best on a weak team, you’re standing on a springboard to
placing you on par with trainers on an exceptional team, and
exceptional teammates drive each other to continue to grow.
The challenge is, the exceptional
team won’t find you. You’ll
have to hunt down the opportunities, and then present yourself
as any applicant interviewing for any professional position.
the opportunities for employment is a necessary prerequisite,
but additional preparation is advised. Trainers often believe that their superiority
shines through in conversation, and they assume that mastery
of the approach they use in attempting to secure clients equates
to adequate preparation for an interview.
When they are passed over for employment, they blame
the organization for failing to see their talents. In most cases, the trainers failed to allow
their talents to shine through.
interviewing for a position, stifle that voice that continues
to ask, “What’s in it for Me?” It’s an important question, but it isn’t appropriate
for the initial meeting. The
initial meeting requires that the potential employer view you
as a competent contributor, not a greed-driven mercenary.
I’m amazed by the number of trainers who wear their arrogance
on their sleeves by boasting about their achievements and their
perception of their own value in a first interview.
can evaluate the “me” question after you’re offered a position.
Mission one, therefore,
is to secure the offer.
the interview with a brief summation of what you bring to the
table in the way of talent, commitment, passion, and experience,
but use that information to lead to a question with far more
impact than the “me” question.
Ask “how can I contribute to your organization’s needs?”
presenting a balance between “here’s what I bring” and “here’s
how I contribute” using a video recorder, then study the video
objectively asking “how is this going to be perceived?” Ideally
you’ll hone your presentation to 5 minutes that clearly shows
you in the most flattering light.
the marriage between your desire to help people and your awareness
of how vital client attraction and retention are to the company.
While you “sell” clients based on your ability to convince
them that you can deliver results, you “sell” employers by helping
them see how your respective goals align.
like to speak of “helping people,” employers are concerned with
“the bottom line.”
me to help people and I’ll do a good job,” fails to inspire
most employers. “Allow
me to use my skills to attract and keep clients so you continue
to prosper by thrilling people” is the language employers
short, practice being at your best, recognize the interview
as a humbling audition, and keep your ego in check. The best teams have a healthy team arrogance
mixed with a humble recognition of collective contribution.
you’ve moved to a level where it’s time to start building your
team, you might benefit from two strategies that allowed me
to conserve my own time in seeking out allies.
recent years I’ve found greater success using online job portals
(careerbuilder.com) then classified newspaper ads. The online posting allows a preliminary screening
step, an online response. I’ve
learned to consolidate my follow-up recruiting time by inviting
those applicants who, based on their responses, appear qualified,
to visit the facility to “fill out an application” between “10
AM and Noon” on a given day.
This allows me the luxury of a “non-interview” eyeballing.
I free myself up for those two hours without any scheduled
one-on-one interviews, and when someone appears to fit the mold
I’m looking for, I’ll enter a short conversation which may lead
to “come on into the office so we can chat.” I typically wind up with a handful of qualified
candidates who I can invite back for 20-minute interviews. Rarely will I hire before conducting four interviews,
as I want to see beyond the fluff and get to know someone and
fairly evaluate the match between the opportunity and the candidate.
strategy that has worked well involved setting up in-house forums
where the audience, by virtue of the fact that they’re attending,
is made up of qualified trainers. I’ve conducted a “build your personal training
business” seminar, a 3-hour session for $39 and advertised it
in the newspaper. If
12 people show up, you have 12 people who, at the very least,
saw value in investing something in building their career.
I tactfully announce that I have positions open, and
invite anyone interested to fill out an application, but I’m
also careful to deliver extreme value, even for those who haven’t
interest in applying. I’ve
also managed to attract qualified audiences by bringing in outside
speakers for events or workshops that would appeal to the type
of personality and level of skill I’m seeking as well as by
bringing in outside workshops for certification CEU’s
qualified trainers is challenging, but when you find the right
match for the right opportunity, you can have a massive impact
on your growth potential. Just
don’t feel obliged to devote days, weeks, or months to getting
caught in the revolving door of “candidates” who have interest
Juan Carlos and I are about to begin a nationwide
search for exceptional potential.
We hope before applying, our candidates will read this
article, and we’ll keep you posted on the outcome!!!!
if you’d like to apply, don’t wait. Become a candidate in The
Personal Training Apprentice Hunt now!