Can there be a balance of empowerment and parameters? Absolutely! Whether you’re a club owner or an independent trainer, I’ve put together some concepts to remember when establishing or re-assessing standards and managing club-to-trainer or trainer-to-client relationships:
- Be respectful and responsible. Establish standards that speak directly to professional codes of conduct and expected behavior. Take responsibility for the missteps of those who represent your establishment. Avoid those missteps by defining, in writing, your professional expectations.
- Be fair and objective. Establish standards that are equitable for all parties and that are detached from self-serving interests. Don’t make decisions based on ready-made bottom line profits. They don’t always equal long-term sustainable profits.
- Be encouraging. Work to build up your staff. Your trainers, your front desk and you! Exercise motivational techniques that will ultimately help productivity and help reduce trainer turnover rates. What do your trainers want out of their work? Recognize the perspective of your staff and the company culture. Use flexibility wisely. Help trainers to learn and grow.
- Be diligent. Set on a path and follow it. Standard setting practices should be purposeful and created out of the need for accountability. Turning the other direction or just plain being complacent is a set up for failure. Communicate often and when doing so, attack the problem, not the person.
- Be improving. Don’t get stuck in “this is the best we can do” mode. Take deliberate steps to consistently improve. Whether you are improving character qualities and relationships or club services and member conversions, your club will be better for it.
Like I said, I’m a big fan of standards and guidelines. We need them to protect others and ourselves in almost every facet of life. Clubs need standards for their personal trainers, trainers need standards for their clients and certification companies need standards for their certificants. There’s no question, regardless of the industry (or the relationship), that accountability is a must. Standards can start to become easily skewed if we’re not careful. It is important to recognize that we can let our own self interests get in the way of true productivity, connectedness and effective reach.
In the club trainer context, guidelines should serve the purpose of making fitness programming safe, effective and accessible. This is our shared mission as fitness professionals and enthusiasts. To balance these standards with management skill that promotes growth and personal enrichment among your staff will further your long term goals. Be motivated by the core of fitness training: helping people. Start by helping your trainers to be better educators and motivators. Spark a passion for what you and your people do!