I was reading a blog recently that talked about the importance of good leadership. It argued that if your staff isn’t engaged, it’s not their fault; it’s your fault as the leader.

The piece suggested that to keep your “team motivated,” you need to give them each a defined role and clear expectations, as well as show them you care about them. It also suggested you share your vision and values with them and listen to their needs and feedback. And on and on with the feel-good cliches.

While there might be a small bit of value in some of the above suggestions, it’s not a lack of leadership or a lack of showing coaches you care; that’s the problem. It’s not the reason coaches at many gyms act like they don’t give a shit.

It doesn’t matter how good of a leader or motivator you are—you could be Tony Robbins—if your coaches can’t make a living in your system (meaning a professional wage), you’re done. They’re done. And clients don’t receive the care they need.  Sure, some may stick around your gym coaching for a while, but their loyalty to your business and your clients won’t last. Why would it?

Money talks. And so does job satisfaction. Do you really think coaching group classes, be it spin classes, Yoga classes, aerobics, boot-camps, or CrossFit classes for a living, can provide anyone with any long-term fulfillment?

Thus, it’s not the leadership that’s broken. It’s your business model.

What coaches need to be “engaged” are two simple things:

1. Job satisfaction: This comes through actually developing relationships with their own clients, people whose lives they can affect. This can’t be done by putting on a cheerleading hat and coaching group classes. How do you really get to dive into someone’s diet and sleep and chronic shoulder pain, and mental health in a group class?

2. The ability to earn a professional wage (upwards of $90,000): working a sustainable number of hours per week (20 to 25 (maximum 30) on floor coaching hours).

If you’re currently running a gym where neither of the above is happening, your coaches will never be who you want them to be. They’ll never be engaged, they’ll never be interested in sales, and they’ll never go above and beyond, no matter how good your leadership is or how much you show them you “care.”

This is what we do: We help gyms develop coaches who are engaged, who are responsible for bringing in and retaining their own clients, who make a difference in their clients’ lives, and who earn a professional living doing so. As a result, everyone wins The client, the coach and the owner.

- Tom Sarosi 

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