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Scott Poston, M.S.

Founder & President

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Professional Development for Club Fitness Staff

As fitness and wellness amenities continue to grow in importance for private clubs, ensuring fitness professionals are appropriately oriented and developed becomes critical to the success of the department.

Development needs to cover many bases from exercise programming to professional responsibilities, client education to client management, and more. The American College of Sports Medicine identifies four domains that must be mastered in order to be certified.

The primary source of staff development is through national certifications. However, it’s the wild, wild west out there. Becoming a personal trainer requires three things: a computer, access to the internet, and a credit card, and you could be certified by no less than six organizations. Once certified (even through a reputable agency like the ACSM, NSCA, or the NASM) the process of keeping the certification current requires just those three previously mentioned assets (computer, internet, credit card). And to top it off, continuing education courses very rarely advise on the business of fitness, and never talk about subjects related to the private club fitness industry.

Club Oriented Professional Development

1000 Hills Fitness started its own staff development program because high performing fitness professionals have trouble transitioning their skills into private clubs. They might be service-oriented, but lack the ability to pick up clients.

With over a decade of teaching and refining staff development for private clubs, this is a rare look into the 1000 Hills Fitness professional development program.

Building a successful personal training business has very little (if anything) to do with selecting complex exercises for your clients, bombarding them with information, or smashing them into physical oblivion.

Here are three key points we make in our professional development programs for clubs:

  1. The importance of a conversation

  2. What to do with pro hours

  3. Commitment to diverse programming

The Importance of a Conversation

Rarely does a member hire a personal trainer because of a flyer, or a poster, or a newsletter article, or a social media post, or even a promo. Personal training sales are personal. Members do not feel compelled to hire a trainer (as opposed to seeing one’s doctor). Nor do they generally want to hire a trainer (due to the cost and the overwhelming number of ways to get fit these days).

Members hire personal trainers they already know. Thence arise the importance of a conversation.

Convince your fitness pros that they need to talk to/connect to/get to know your members. Leave sales out of it. Teach rapport and the virtues of connecting with people (e.g., understanding, familiarity, and trust).

Rapport-building should be the central goal of every private club fitness pro’s work day. Every top performer we have seen at private and luxury commercial clubs is able to connect with people and befriend people very quickly. Some do it naturally, while others have to learn the skills (yes, they are teachable).

What to do with pro hours?

When a personal trainer clocks-in between sessions, it is usually referred to as a floor hour. The trainer is expected to offer fitness advice (which no one in a fitness center really wants), clean machines (which no trainer really wants to do), or complete other mindless tasks (e.g., fold towels, restack weights, tidy up the fitness center, etc.). 1000 Hills Fitness banned this job description at our clubs many years ago, and replaced it with what we call “pro hours”.

A pro hour revolves a unique blend of service and marketing. These hours are an opportunity for the fitness pro to meet people, build rapport, and maybe offer fitness advice that is of value to the receiver (unsolicited fitness advice is a solicitation, and not welcome or productive).

Commitment to Diverse Programing

There are as many excuses to not exercise as there are people who do not exercise. Each member’s reason is unique to him or her. If you want to compel your members to overcome their excuses, then a diverse program calendar is a great way to do it. Your programs should vary in:

Time commitment


Experience required to participate

Education v. action

Size of audience (i.e., intimacy)

Location (onsite v. offsite)

Leader (staff v. outside expert)

Think of it like fishing. The more lures you put in the water, the more likely you are to catch a fish.

Develop Your Staff

There is a great quote about staff development that made its rounds on LinkedIn recently. It goes like this:

CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

This inside look into the 1000 Hills Fitness Professional Development platform hopefully inspires you to develop your fitness staff. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

If you would like more information about bringing 1000 Hills Fitness to your club for a Professional Development workshop, then click here to schedule a quick call, or email us at

For more educational resources, including guides, position papers, original articles, conference presentations, and case studies, visit



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