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How Top Gyms Build Careers for Staff Members

Reading our 2023 “State of the Industry” report will tell you how gyms make careers for their staff.

For example, turn to pages 44 and 45: You’ll see that most gyms have one or two full-time staff members, and the top team member earns around $30,000-$35,000 per year. You’ll also see that gyms have, on average, six part-time staff members. Combined, staff members account for about 30 percent of a gym’s total expenses.

These are average numbers you can compare to your metrics. But what are the best gyms doing—the top performers in both revenue and profit?

Well, many of the top gyms open with the owner doing all the work (this was me, and it might be you, too).

Eventually, the owner hires someone part time. This part-time hire buys the owner time to build systems, fix mistakes and work on client acquisition.

The gym owner might make a few more part-time hires to buy more time and speed up the process of growth: improving average revenue per member (ARM), extending length of engagement (LEG), maximizing return on expenses (ROI) and improving net owner benefit (NOB).

When the owner reaches around $100,000 in NOB, they know they have a business that can support full-time staff. They are living proof that their gym can sustain someone.

When a gym owner hires someone full time, they must continually mentor the staff person to build a career and increase skill.

In some rare cases, the full-time staff person becomes a partner in another location. These are unicorns; the average full-time person won’t follow that path.

Here’s a real example of sound business growth: One top Two-Brain gym owner who is now on our team of mentors has two full-time staff members who earn $60,000-$80,000 a year and have benefits, too. The owner’s net owner benefit is over $10,000 a month (hear Eric Conner’s story here).


How Most Gym Owners Screw This Up


We see a lot of errors when it comes to hiring. Here are some of the big ones:

1. Gym owners hire in the wrong order. They obsesses about finding and training the perfect coach instead of hiring to fill lower-value roles—like cleaner—to buy back some time.

2. They hire too many people. They have a dozen very part-time coaches trading their time for a free membership and a complicated schedule. The result? A rollercoaster of coaching quality.

3. They hire without written instructions. They assume their staff can read their mind, know what to do and always guess correctly.

4. They hire a full-time person too early. They commit to a salary before their business has proven it can sustain one. They gamble with other people’s careers.

5. They sacrifice their own income to pay staff. They give away large pieces of the pie because they don’t know how to grow the overall pie. For example, they let trainers keep 60 percent of the training revenue because they don’t know how to get more training clients and thereby dodge the responsibility for learning to market and sell.

6. They never hire a full-time person. Instead of committing to one person, they keep a half-dozen part timers who have no incentive to get better.

7. They fail to remove bad clients (or bad staff members). Staff can’t do their best work because they’re constantly taken off track by those around them.

If these errors hit too close to home for you, don’t worry: I’ve done everything listed above. Hiring mistakes are fixable—it just takes time and mentorship.


Look to the Best


How do we know what the best gyms do? Because we mentor their owners.

We identify the best with metrics—we don’t just talk about what our buddies are doing. We look for proof. Then we ask them what they’re doing and teach their lessons to everyone else.

We teach mentors to help clients do things faster. That’s why Two-Brain gyms have higher-paid staff members who are making long-term careers—but most gyms don’t.

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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.