PT on the Net Research

Evaluating Your Personal Training Staff


One of the most important aspects of maintaining employees as contributing and committed staff members is a comprehensive and thorough evaluation system. Most people want to continue to grow, develop and be challenged and the moment this ceases to happen is the moment they start to look elsewhere to be stimulated. Staff Evaluations are important for managers to provide both positive and constructive feedback to staff in order to help them advance their skills. Staff evaluations help managers easily and effectively track the performance of their staff. Giving employees the tools to improve at their job responsibilities helps them to grow, adds value to their employment with your company and, of course, as a result, your members and clients ultimately benefit.

We have developed a yearly evaluation system that can be adjusted or modified for any position within a club setting.

Indicators of Performance Review

We believe its very important to check in with your staff more than once or twice a year. Why wait a year before providing feedback to staff that is going to make them a better employee and benefit your members? Too often employees are hit out of nowhere with criticism at their yearly evaluation. They become defensive because they’ve functioned for a year believing their performance was acceptable. Providing employees with feedback throughout the year allows them the opportunity to improve or change their behaviours resulting in a more positive year-end evaluation. It’s important, however, that the quick evaluation check-ins are quick and easy to administer or they won’t get done. Our Indicators of Performance review takes about 15-30 minutes to perform and we administer them about 6 times a year. We have designed them in a yes/no format and they cover all important aspects of an employee’s job performance. The form itself is a double-sided 8.5 by 11 sheet.

On-floor Review

Once a year for our veteran staff and more regularly for our new staff, we will perform a practical assessment of our trainers’ skills. We shadow each personal trainer for an entire session and assess professionalism, personal appearance, safety, education, communication and interaction skills, and programming effectiveness. Immediately after the session, we sit down and discuss what was fabulous, any questions and provide suggestions for improvement. It usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes after the session so the entire process takes about an hour and a half for each staff member. The time spent is well worth it. This type of shadow evaluation can be done on any staff member. You can sit back, watch and evaluate your front desk staff, your weight room supervisors, group fitness instructor or your maintenance staff. This type of immediate feedback assessing them in action goes a long way in helping them to improve their skills.

Video Evaluation

We find video evaluations very useful. Once a year we videotape our personal trainers. We then watch the video and discuss what we see. Many of our staff have commented that the video evaluations really helped them to become a better trainer. Some didn’t realize how sloppy they appeared. Some didn’t like where they positioned themselves to spot clients. Others commented they didn’t realize how bored or tired they looked throughout a session. These are things a trainer can easily change once they see it for themselves. Videos allow them to get a glimpse at what others (i.e., potential clients) may be seeing while they are training with their clients. We encourage them to imagine what others might be thinking while watching them. Would they think, “Wow, I’d like to workout with that trainer”, or “That’s a really cool exercise that trainer is doing with their client,” or “Boy, does that trainer have a lot of energy and enthusiasm?” Videos allow staff members to just sit back, watch and learn.

Yearly Comprehensive Organizational and Wage Review

All of our staff look forward to this review because it offers the potential of a raise. This review is completed at the end of our fiscal year. We generally take about two hours to evaluate their performance and their involvement with our company as a whole over the past year. We also establish new goals and expectations for the upcoming fiscal year. The advantage to our system is that we use all the other evaluations we’ve performed over the last year to help us truly assess the past year’s performance. Before we adopted this system we used to dread yearly evaluations because we’d have to think really hard to remember how they did throughout the whole year. The yearly evaluations turned into an evaluation of only the past few months because we truly couldn’t remember anything before that.

Client Feedback Forms

This evaluation system is probably the most important one because the customers are ultimately the ones we have to please. We regularly ask for client feedback. Each personal trainer is responsible for ensuring each new client completes a feedback form after the first few sessions and then every four to six months after that. We also distribute surveys to clients every quarter to check how we’re all doing. All comments relating to any of our staff members are kept in their employee files and discussed during our evaluation meetings.

Monthly Stats and Reports

Most of the evaluation systems we have in place assess our employees practical, technical and customer service skills. But as an owner, it’s also important for us to let our staff know how they are performing on a financial level. Each month, we distribute graphs and charts and inform staff how they are doing with their individual revenue goals and training hours, and also how the entire program is doing with regard to the team revenue goals. These reports keep everyone up-to-date and allow for prompt, decisive action. We like to offer incentives to our staff when they reach certain revenue goals. At the beginning of our fiscal year, we establish challenging but realistic goals for each of our team members. Annual goals are then split into three smaller goals. This year when trainers hit a milestone, they will first receive a $75 gift certificate, then a $100 gift certificate and then finally a $150 gift certificate. Every month we also offer team incentives. In February, one of our trainers won three hours of pampering at a local spa. This month three members of our team won a night stay and dinner at a local resort. We try to offer fun and exciting challenges that keep us focused on the fact that we do have financial goals and need to be fiscally successful.

Immediate Recognition and Acknowledgement

Most people enjoy being patted on the back for a job well done. Exceptional results on a client feedback form are posted in a scrap book that is kept in our client lounge area and we post them on our staff bulletin board. We also try to write thank-you notes, letters or cards to individuals who have really outperformed our expectations. It’s important not to wait until a scheduled meeting to let staff know how they’re doing. If you see something amazing, comment on it immediately. Similarly, if you see something you weren’t impressed with, sit them down and discuss it as soon as possible.

Personal Trainer Survey and Manager’s Evaluation

We evaluate our staff so much throughout the year that it seems only fair that they get to evaluate us. Once a year, we distribute a form on which they candidly remark on our managing and leadership skills; our ability to motivate them to perform; how we communicate with them; our organization, business and time management skills; and our professionalism. This tool has helped us to become much better managers. In addition, we also ask our staff to provide us with feedback and ideas before we start budgeting, forecasting and planning for the upcoming fiscal year. We distribute a survey to get our team’s input. We ask what equipment we should budget for, what types of programs we should implement, which new systems would work best, which lectures we should offer, how we should market and advertise our program. Before we make any major changes, we get our staff’s feedback. Numerous heads provide more amazing ideas than just one! We can’t tell you how many times they’ve saved us from making costly mistakes. They have dramatically contributed to the success of all of our programs.

Follow Up

It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure evaluations get done in a timely fashion. The worst thing that could happen is a staff member is skipped or they receive their evaluation 6 months late. This reflects on the manger’s professionalism and doesn’t place importance on the evaluation. We’ve established a system that tracks all our monthly responsibilities as managers. We also track when we’re supposed to follow up on goals that trainers have set so we can check in and see how they are doing. We know for the entire year how we’re going to interact with our staff and it looks like the following:

September: Indicators of Performance Review
October: Peer Evaluation
November: Check up on Comprehensive Organizational and Wage Review Goals
December: Phone call to check in with personal trainers
**Personal Trainer of the Year Award
**Most Improved Trainer of the Year Award
January: Indicators of Performance Review
February: Informal Meeting with personal trainers
March: Complete Video Taping
April: Video Review
Personal Trainers’ Survey
Manager’s Evaluation
May: Phone call to check in with personal trainers
June: Indicators of Performance Review
July: Check up on Video Review Goals
August: Comprehensive Organizational and Wage Review; Set new fiscal goals; re-sign employees agreement

This system has worked very well for us. It has allowed us to keep some exceptional staff members on board with us. We truly believe if we can keep staff mentally stimulated, they will have no reason to go elsewhere.

Remember, these systems took us a long time to develop, so don’t feel obligated to try to implement everything all at once. Take just one system you think would work for you in your situation and see how it goes. Each year, add one more thing you think would work for you. Good luck!