I want to start out today by giving much deserved props to the legend Jack Lalanne, who recently passed away.
If you know of Jack’s accomplishments, chances are you’re only aware of a portion of them. That’s because through his long career, he was involved in almost every type of fitness business imagineable, and has done more to impact the industry than probably anyone else in history.
It’s hard to estimate how much we owe to him – the truth is a lot of us wouldn’t be in this business without him. He popularized fitness in America through his long running television show. He invented much of the gym equipment we see today, owned a chain of gyms (that eventually was bought by Bally’s), and made a fortune in direct marketing.
Do yourself a favor today and do a little research into him, his accomplishments, his history, his career, work ethic, passion, and some of his videos on youtube. His magic is sure to rub off on you in some way, and you’ll find yourself a better person for it.
There was a good article I wrote about Jack a couple of years ago that you’ll probably find valuable and will give you info on some of his accomplishments and what we can learn from them. You can find that right here.
RIP Jack. Your impact on this business will live forever.
Now let’s get to what I wanted to talk about today. In a recent article on this site I was bragging about how well a lot of my students are doing. And when you consider that the ones I hear from are probably just a small sampling of the total number, I’m assuming there are a great many of you that have been making major strides in this business.
What naturally results from success in this business is a brand new problem what you need to face now or will be facing in the very near future: hiring your first employee.
If you’ve been dodging this issue, STOP. Having employees are, in essence, what makes you a business owner. Running a business comes down to knowing what needs to get done, and then finding the right people to do it.
But, easier said than done right? Definitely. If you’ve never done it before, hiring an employee can be nerve-wracking.
Not only that, but, when it comes to training, A LOT is riding on the quality of your employees. This is entirely a personality, character, and relationship-based service. It’s really hard to find good people who can come through in those areas.
There is another article I’m working on that will give you some advanced info on this subject, but right now, I’m going to give you a tip that will work for anyone, and prepare you for the day when you have your own fitness empire.
There’s a simple solution: if you’re hesitant or not sure whether you’re ready to hire someone to replace, don’t hire one. Hire an assistant instead.
Keep in mind, we’re talking about a training assistant here, not a personal or administrative assistant.
A training assistant is someone who shadows you, learns from you, follows your instructions and helps you get more clients into your sessions, and can cover clients for you on occasion.
Managing this type of employee lets you practice being a leader, giving orders and delegating. Think of it as a set of training wheels; a rehearsal process that will lead to you eventually building and maintaining a team of higher level employees.
More benefits of starting with an assistant:
1. Having an assistant makes YOU look good. It makes you feel more in control and gives you more authority and credibility. You can charge higher rates, have clients adhere to your rules (i.e., 30 minute sessions, EFT, specific blocks of available training times, group training, strict cancellation policy, etc.). When they see you bossing someone else around, clients just take you all that much more seriously.
2. Much cheaper. You can pay a training assistant much less than you would have to pay a full-blown [or full-time] employee. And don’t get caught up in the shady crap trainers these days often do of calling their employees independent contractors. If you’re going to have a genuinely serious business one day, get used to having real (as in salaried) employees.
3. There are plenty of fish in this sea. You might be sick of Bosu balls and bodyweight squats, but trust me, you’ve got it good – most jobs these days are A HUNDRED times worse. That’s why there are tons of people walking around who want to become trainers. They will accept low pay for the ability to learn from the master (that’s you, dummy).
4. You can attract them as interns, instead of assistants in many cases. This is one of my favorite tactics, and it works especially well if you own your own training studio. These interns will do all the work a training assistant would do, but for FREE. And, you want to know the irony? Most of the time, an intern will do a better job than a paid assistant!
Of course you and I would never do anything for free, but believe it or not, being an intern is a normal part of the real world (I know, weird, huh?). In fact, my brother has four Princeton University grads working for him for free as interns as part of his social media start-up. Use this phenonemanon to your benefit. By the way, you can find plenty of good intern candidates on Craigsilst along with candidates for lots of other positions we’ll be talking about in the future
5. Paying to work for you. In some cases, say if you own your own studio, you can get someone to PAY YOU to for the chance to work for you as an assistant (yeah, you read that right). Just certify them in some way at the end of the process. They can then move up to assistants if they pass the certification exam. And then the person can become a full blown employee. But in the trial phase, you can make some money and have the benefit of the unpaid labor.
In my publishing business, the process of hiring, delegating, and managing is second nature to me now, but I remember how difficult this was when I first started doing it, as part of my training business. Your learning curve doesn’t need to be as hard. But don’t be tentative and don’t over-think it. Just hit it head on. Hire your first training assistant now.
Let the hunt begin!