Hiring and Promotion in the Fitness Industry

Apr 14, 2011

Hiring and promotion decisions are based on many factors. When hiring individuals, the top three criteria in all positions except personal training director are skills and abilities, certification and personality, according to survey respondents of the 2010 IDEA Fitness Industry Compensation Trends Report.

When hiring personal training directors, respondents feel that years of experience are more important than personality. Jason Pease, fitness manager at Equinox in Santa Monica, California, relates to these hiring criteria: “When hiring and promoting individuals, managers look for candidates who have the ability to be successful quickly. Experience is important, but with such a changing market and [so much] science [unfolding] in the industry, managers look for individuals [who can] build value in their service and relate their value to a multitude of individuals. These traits are not always found in experienced fitness professionals, but [are] in ones who hold a great deal of knowledge [and can] use their knowledge and ones with infectious personalities.”

After the top three criteria for hiring, the additional factors that respondents use when hiring differ among job classifications. For fitness/program directors, a degree is important, while personality counts for personal training directors. Years of experience rank as the fourth-highest criterion for group exercise coordinators, personal trainers and fitness-floor staff. The type of class/session taught is important for group-exercise, specialty and Pilates/yoga instructors.

When deciding whether to promote an employee to a position requiring additional responsibility and increased compensation, the two most important factors are leadership and communication skills for all positions, with the exception of specialty instructors, where advanced specialty training ranks higher than communication.

Respondents were also asked to evaluate criteria for their relevance in determining hiring and merit pay. While the standards for pay on hiring differ among positions, the two most commonly used criteria are certification and skills for most positions. The least common attribute for determining pay is an audition for fitness/program directors, personal training directors and personal trainers; the type of class/session for group exercise coordinators and fitness floor staff; and a university degree for instructors (group, specialty, Pilates and yoga).

When it comes to determining a merit raise, the performance of the individual is the most important criterion for all positions, except group exercise coordinator, with years of service within the industry receiving equal attention for personal training directors and Pilates or yoga instructors and ranking highest for group exercise coordinators. A university degree ranks as the lowest criterion for merit raise decisions for all positions except fitness-floor staff; for this position, class attendance ranks as the lowest criterion.

Respondents were asked how likely each position was to receive a wage increase during 2010. They felt that 22% of fitness directors, 12% of personal training directors, 26% of group exercise coordinators, 16% of personal trainers, 25% of fitness floor staff, 19% of group exercise instructors, 14% of specialty instructors and 17% of Pilates and yoga instructors would most likely see a wage increase this year.

Download Survey Charts (11.4 MB)

© 2015 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.


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