At an inspired fitness facility, people are encouraged and motivated to generate a “positive vibration.” This business model makes members feel special, and it motivates people not only to join your facility but also to thrive in your fitness community. What happens when your employees are treated as well as your members?

Part One of this series focused on what inspired customer service is and why it’s vital to membership growth (“what”). In Part Two, we discussed the importance of inspired employees to an inspired business (“who”). Part Three looked at five keys to help develop a great culture by revitalizing a facility’s vision and mission (“why”). Part Four shared best behaviors (“how”). In Part Five we’ll address another “how”: how, exactly, to motivate employees to get on board with the brand.

Create an Employee-Centric Culture

You encourage facility members to live well by supporting them with education and training in a fun, social, vibrant culture. Extend this mission to your employees. If you want to grow and be profitable, your employees must feel that they are being treated as well as, or better than, your customers. An “employee-centric culture” makes personal trainers, group fitness instructors, front desk staff and operations personnel feel special.

Your brand comes alive through the hearts and minds of your staff. There is no better way to encourage staff to buy into your brand and vision than to create a culture that honors them. For example, include them in conversations about the facility’s mission and the vital role that employees play in building the brand. They should feel this inclusiveness every day; in many ways, it’s more important than their compensation and benefits package.

To keep pace with the evolving fitness world, your brand needs to be fresh, current, relatable and compelling. To help achieve this, reground yourself in your mission each day—yet also be ready and willing if employees offer input that merits a change in direction. This flexibility strengthens your business, and it also fulfills your mission to make a positive difference in the lives of your members and your employees. Ask yourself the following questions every day:

  • What can I do today to make my employees’ days better?
  • How do I make my employees feel valued and cared about?
  • Is there something I can do to make my employees’ workdays easier, more effective and enjoyable?

Build a Culture That Wins

For a fitness facility to be successful, the culture must be many things: inspiring, fun, professionally courteous, relaxed, inclusive, exciting, meaningful and authentic. The following points explore how to make this happen.

Hire the right people. This may seem obvious, but many managers rush to fill a vacancy. Be slow to hire and quick to fire. Choose people who not only have the skills you need but also have an affinity with your vision and mission. Ask them what they value. Make sure their personalities and goals align with your brand.

Never skip orientation. Onboarding correctly requires an investment. Make your staff orientation intriguing, exciting and compelling, just as you would for new members. This is your new employees’ first in-depth impression of the company, and thus it’s the foundation for their success. Make your vision, mission and brand clear. Introduce the company leaders, and highlight these higher-ups’ professional and personal values.

Define employee roles. Everyone’s job is important to the company’s overall success. No employee, including the CEO, is more important than another in creating day-to-day success. Be specific about the company’s expectations regarding behavior and attitude, and offer real-world examples of how certain scenarios will detract from the brand.

Keep your people inspired. Talk about your vision and mission every day. Ask employees how they are doing, and then ask them what they think and feel about the company’s mission and overall progress. Pay attention to how you walk and talk—your overall vibration. You set the pace for performance and attitude. You set the direction and expectations. Encourage staff during stressful times, coach and counsel them appropriately, praise them often and discipline them in a timely and professional manner.

Offer inspiring uniforms. Have you ever worked at a job that required you to wear a uniform that made you feel degraded, silly or uncomfortable? Go out of your way to create a uniform policy that most people can rally around. This greatly affects how employees feel about themselves, especially fitness professionals. It also affects how staff members interact with one another and, of course, with the members. A uniform that is sharp and fashion-forward creates instant buy-in.

Train and retrain well. The fitness industry is not static; research is always uncovering new ways to Inspire the World to Fitness®. Provide your staff with the resources they need to stay current with their continuing education credits. Support their desire to attend fitness conventions. In addition, give them opportunities to learn customer service skills and to improve their emotional intelligence.

Refine the workstations. You likely provide a beautiful, clean environment for your members to exercise in. Likewise, offer employees a beautiful workstation with the proper tools and correct ergonomic setup. Doing this speaks volumes about your integrity as a company.

Listen well and offer feedback. Create forums where employees can share freely and openly. Listen to their feedback, and use it when you can—in productive ways.

Foster teamwork. Create a culture where it is evident that employees are respected. You want members to know and see this. Encourage all your staff to do their jobs well so that the team can thrive. Encourage relaxed, respectful, friendly, caring professional relationships among employees.

Keep communication open. Nothing creates community and a sense of confidence and optimism like transparency. Update employees regularly about what is happening in the company, particularly during times of change. This keeps your staff focused on their jobs rather than gossip.

Huddle daily. Prepare an inspirational plan for each day, and get the team together—either in person or via email. This is how to win the game: one play at a time. Make every day a new day, full of interesting challenges, praise, direction and appreciation. Always celebrate jobs well done.

Your inspired business rests on the answer to this question: Do your employees and members come into your facility with a sense of excitement and happiness, and do they leave feeling inspired? If not, it’s time to make some changes.

Patricia Kirk, MS

Patricia Kirk, MS, is regional manager and director of training and development for commercial clubs for Club One Fitness. She has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years and began her career as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer. She has been in fitness management for the past 15 years. Her passion is developing and implementing employee development training programs, particularly in customer service and management leadership development.

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