As collegiate recreation fitness and wellness programs are burgeoning from the COVID-19 shutdown, there have definitely been some hurdles to get past. Staffing is just one of them. Many programs do not have enough personal trainers (PTs) and group fitness instructors to meet the needs of their gym members. Here, you’ll find some thoughts if this is your experience in collegiate fitness and wellness.
In my experience, being certified in personal training and group fitness has helped me to be more marketable in the fitness industry. It has helped my fitness directors utilize my time on campus better. I also learned to teach multiple different formats as a group fitness instructor. This was a great help to my directors covering the schedule. Plus, it kept me from getting bored teaching the same thing every day.
Here are some benefits to your staff being certified in both PT and group fitness as well as group fitness instructors being trained in multiple formats:
You can offer them more hours.
This helps with turnover. If the staff member can work one job with your university and not need to hold an additional job outside of the rec program, their time and energy are not divided. They are more likely to stay around from year to year.
The staff member can make better use of their time at work.
Instead of having a broken-up schedule, they can have more continuity within their daily routine. It gives them more flexibility in their week to work around academic schedules too.
Group fitness instructors teach more than one format.
Long-term, this makes them more marketable out in public gyms post-graduation. Short-term, this helps get the most out of your staff training and greatly benefits the sub-pool. Avoid the one-trick ponies.
Offering office hours to staff.
Do this if they have gaps in their teaching/training schedules. This can help the directors be more efficient with their time by filling in the gaps with PT or group fitness on breaks between sessions. This offers a financial incentive for the staff to be more invested in the program as a whole.
Finding ways to utilize the staff in more areas of fitness/wellness can reduce the cost of training people for separate job assignments, along with reducing the cost of uniforms and job supplies.
This is a culture that needs to be built over time. Investing in the current staff to train them in other areas is the first step. Again, it can be easier and less expensive than searching for new staff. Here are some more things to consider:
What classes can your PTs teach?
- If your PTs are strong in musicality, this opens many beat-based group fitness formats.
- For PTs uncomfortable with musicality, today’s group fitness classes offer multiple formats in non-beat-based classes. Examples of this are F45 and CrossFit.
- This is a win-win. By getting in front of the classes, the trainer can also build their clientele and promote the PT program globally.
Where can you plug in your group fitness instructors?
- If you have very specialized mind-body programming (i.e., yoga, Pilates, etc.) these instructors often can teach more than one style of mind-body classes.
- For your beat-based instructors, build a mentorship program from one instructor to another where they mentor each other in a new format.
Do you have group fitness instructors that are strong in class design, anatomy, etc.?
- You can encourage them to become PTs to generate more hours and income.
I am not suggesting reorganizing your entire program overnight. But if you find yourself short on staff, these small changes may be helpful. It is more of a shift in the paradigm of thinking to see what is available with the current team. Many collegiate fitness and wellness directors know their staff well enough to have a pulse on how to propagate more program opportunities without adding staff.
In closing, I have had the pleasure of attending many collegiate fitness conferences over the past year, and it is pure joy to see the excitement, energy and camaraderie coming back strong in collegiate fitness. This is due to you, the fit-well directors, coordinators and supervisors. You have worked hard and stayed the course through thick and thin. You should know: it matters.
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