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The Career Roadmap: The Secret to Staff Ascension in a Gym

Five red pins on a roadmap mark milestones on a long journey.

How do you create better careers for your staff members?

By creating a better career for the owner—you—and by letting team members take more valuable roles in the hierarchy.

When owners ascend, staff members fill the places they vacated on the “value ladder.”

Buying back your time buys opportunities for team members.

In the previous post in this series, I told you how to buy back your time.

Here, I’m going to tell you how to ascend your staff.

A chart outlining the path to building a career


The Path to a Career


Before we get into this, I don’t want you to assume that every great coach is a full-time coach. A great coach can work part time. Read more here: “Gym Management: The Case for Part-Time Coaches.”

Now, here are the steps to building the careers your team members want:


Step 1 

At a quarterly Career Roadmap meeting, ask your coach: “What do you want now?” Ask the coach to tell you about their Perfect Day. Ask how your gym can support that Perfect Day. Ask where the coach would like to be in six months.


Step 2

Determine how much the coach needs to earn to reach those goals. Using tools like the Happiness Index (and the coach’s personal budget), calculate a goal number.


Step 3

Do the Value Ladder exercise and determine where you are trying to buy back your time. Offer those roles to your coach (we call that “insourcing”). If they don’t want to be a cleaner, that’s OK‚ but many great coaches have swung a mop while building up their client load. You probably have a few classes you can add to their schedule, too. Every little bit helps while they’re trying to set up a base income.


Step 4

Create opportunities to do personal training, run specialty programs or provide nutrition coaching. It’s all laid out in our free “Intrapreneurialism 101” guide, which you can download here.

Here’s what the plan might look like (this breakdown was created using a Career Roadmap tool from our mentorship program):

Step 5

Determine the starting position. What will the coach need to learn in order to capitalize on this plan? Will they need to earn a credential before starting a kids program, for example?


Step 6

Measure progress. Perform regular evaluations as part of Career Roadmap meetings. Mentor the coaches to grow their income on your platform.


Final Notes


Remember: Your coaches earn more money by earning the gym more money. Every staff person you hire is an investment, not an expense. You make a return on that investment through buying back your time or having the coaches generate revenue for the gym.

One more note: Hire for the role; don’t just to pay your buddy. Put people in a new role only if they’re a good fit. If you promote someone who’s really not qualified or competent, you’ll lose a staff person (and usually a friend).

The best way to ascend your staff is to ascend yourself as owner and place the right people in the roles you vacate. As your time becomes more valuable, so does theirs.

Other Media in This Series


“Cheat Code for Gym Growth: Buy Back Your Time”
“Staff Ascension Model: How to Develop and Retain A+ Staff Members”
Video: “Staff Ascension: From Mistakes to Managing 20 People at Two Gyms”

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One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.