In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. [Eric Hoffer]
The fitness industry is continually changing: new science, new products, and new innovative training methods - what was appropriate 10 years ago may not be appropriate today. Economy experts continually inform us that providing goods and service is no longer the way to generate prosperity, create growth and jobs. Experienced industry professionals need to continually learn new skills, and behaviours, while new members of staff require an on-boarding process that takes the information delivered on their initial industry courses, and immerses them into an organisational culture that has unique values and beliefs about the exerciser and the fitness experience.
The aim of this article is to explore [briefly] how to: develop facility staff that; enhance the facility culture, drive the unique facility experience forward, enhancing the facility’s reputation and driving exerciser behaviour, ensuring a return on investment for the facility.
This short piece will focus on the development of the facility team, whether that be the studio team, gym instructors, or Personal Trainers.
This article is not meant to be a deep educational piece of work around fitness industry standards or the roles and responsibilities of staff. It is purely a personal view on how a facility could create an education, training and development pathway that has purpose, meaning and direction for the facility and the staff – a pathway that truly supports the facility, the facility staff, and more importantly the facility’s members in being successful.
There is a difference between education, training and development. Education is defined as: “the process of receiving or giving systematic instructions, that develops knowledge and understanding.” Training is defined as: “the action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behaviour, that is required for a particular job.” Development is defined as: “the process in which someone grows or changes and becomes more advanced.” If a facility wishes to develop their staff, one of the first things they need to consider is whether education or training is required, or is it a mixture of both? Staff development will always be key in the creation of a unique exerciser experience.
With the expansion of the fitness industry over the last few years, and the number of fitness facilities offering the general population opportunity to exercise, the need to create unique exercise experiences is becoming a huge talking point within the industry. There are only two basic strategies that a facility can utilise to create an experience:
The first is content: content is the equipment, the exercises, the sets, reps, training approach, the science of exercise. The content is important, it’s very important, it supports the fitness experience, and, when used safely, effectively, and consistently, it moves the exerciser in the direction they wish to go, whatever their individual motivators to exercise.
The second strategy is to focus on the context: context is the ‘HOW’, the approach, the style, the environment in which the fitness experience is delivered.
When used correctly, both content and context can be uniquely framed into a staged experience that generates positive thoughts and feelings in the exerciser, which in turn drives exerciser behaviour back to the facility, increasing the possibility of retention and secondary spend, which in turn makes the facility happy. It’s a LOOP! Create experiences via a unique mix of content and context that create positives emotions in the exerciser, which in turn drive the exerciser to return to the facility. Throw it in with the correct mix of staff development, evaluation and self-reflection and there is the distinct possibility of success. But HOW to achieve this?
There are a large number of global training providers that offer quality education for facility staff, but unfortunately, if the uniqueness of exerciser experience is what the facility is searching for, then an in-house education team that fully understands the values and mission of the business is absolutely key. Disney does it, CrossFit does it, SoulCycle does it. They take responsibility for staff education and training, which creates outstanding experiences that create positive emotions, which in turn drives the customer back for more.
An in-house education team:
- supports the unique facility culture;
- supports the facility’s mission and values [the why and how];
- supports the opportunity to provide exercisers with differentiation and a unique experience;
- creates a clear and unique pathway of staff development;
- enables training and development to be delivered in a more convenient manner and in a cost-effective way that empowers staff and delivers education, training and development that moves the facility away from being bland and undifferent.
- Supports exerciser adherence, which is a major factor in retention of members/users
The aim of this article has been to explore [briefly] how to develop facility staff that; enhance the facility culture, drive the unique facility experience forward, enhancing the facility’s reputation and driving exerciser behaviour, ensuring a return on investment for the facility. This short piece will focus on the development of the facility team, whether that be the studio team, gym instructors, or Personal Trainers.
An in-house training and development team is a major ingredient supporting facility DIFFERENT, and ensuring a return on investment.
Disney U – Doug Lipp 
Bounce - M. Syed 
Read part 2 of ensuring a return on investment in staff education, training and development in next week’s blog post.