hiring coaches

How To Go From Coach To CEO By Building The Right Team

Want to promote yourself from coaching to running your fitness business? The key is building the right team. Here are three tips to get started!

Emily Beers
February 1, 2023
How To Go From Coach To CEO By Building The Right Team
Want to promote yourself from coaching to running your fitness business? The key is building the right team. Here are three tips to get started!

Before you opened your gym, did you start as a coach? The fitness industry is full of coaches-turned-CEOs that want to pursue their dreams. And the most successful gym owners learn quickly that building the right team is key.

When you first start out, the reality is that you’re not truly an entrepreneur. Yes, technically you own a business. As gym owners ourselves here at PushPress, we get it. We’ve joked that we all started out as self-employed people who bought ourselves a full-time coaching job.

Building the right team accelerates gym growth

But what does it truly mean to be a business owner?

Here are some questions to ask: Have you gotten past the point of coaching 20 hours per week and doing all the programming? Were you able to hang up your janitorial and accounting hats? Could you take a few two-week vacations throughout the year without your business falling apart? Is your gym able to operate without you being physically present 80 percent of the time? Are you able to spend your time on things like marketing and business development?

It should be noted that not every gym owner aspires to handle these type of CEO responsibilities. In upcoming blogs, we’ll discuss the support you need specifically, based on your unique goals.

When you’re truly the CEO, in most cases you’re in charge of the big-picture operations and business growth. The ability to make this transition comes down to one thing: Building the right team.

Three Steps To Building Your Dream Team:

1. Develop Coaches Properly.

The people you choose to hire on your team will be a reflection of your business, mission and values. You can’t do it alone and hiring the right people will make all the difference.

Taking the time to develop your coaches properly will prove extremely beneficial in the long run. Remember, if you don’t give people direction, they’ll do things the way they think they should. This might not align with your vision, so be as clear as possible.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as hiring coaches that have a CrossFit Level 1 certification. The more successful gym usually have an in-house coach development program. This includes some intense mentorship that helps the coach understand and embrace the business. And it also develops the technical skills required of them.

Create development program to help with hiring coaches

Building a coach development program can take some time and refining. But the more formal the curriculum (expectations, processes, time frames, etc.), the more successful it will be. Clearly defining the steps of the program makes it easier to develop coaches consistently and efficiently.

Coach Development Program Examples:

Here are a few ways gym owners we’ve worked with have implemented successful coaching development programs:

Interns With Mentors: Interns shadow a mentor for classes over a 1-2 month period. They meet with the mentor once per week for guidance and preparation for a practical coaching exam. Once they “graduate,” they become a senior apprentice. At this point, they start coaching for a 90-day assessment period. Graduating from the apprentice level moves them into a part-time or full-time coaching position at your gym.

Hybrid Approach: A great way to get coaches more invested in the growth of your gym is a revenue-based compensation plan. First, these team members would be paid per class for coaching. In addition to that role, offer a percentage of revenue based on bringing in new clients or developing specialty programs. For example, if a coach launches an endurance program that brings in $2,000/month in revenue, they receive a percentage of that revenue, on top of their coaching compensation.

Pro Tip: Need some extra revenue to start building the right team? Check out the January PushPress Blog posts for lots of ideas for additional revenue streams!

This leaves us with the age-old debate: Hire coaches from within or from the outside?

It’s always been a hot topic but the truth is, both can work. The key is to find coaches who are invested and committed to what you’re doing. And to ensure you can compensate them well for their efforts.

2. Learn To Delegate.

It can be tough to delegate roles to others. Especially if it’s a role you hold close to your heart, like the gym’s programming. But in order to propel your business forward, you have to learn to hand off some of your responsibilities. If you’ve been building the right team, you’ll have people you can trust in the right roles.

Delegate roles to coaches you trust

The first step is to put people in the right seats on the bus. This simply means matching peoples’ responsibilities to their strengths, goals and preferences.

The counterpart to that is not to set someone up for failure by assigning them to own something that isn’t in their wheelhouse. In addition, don’t force a coach into a role they’re not passionate about.

For example, if a nutrition coaching program is something you’d like to offer, you might see it as a perfect role for your head coach. But if she isn’t interested in nutrition coaching, she probably won’t be successful in that role. This would end up reflecting poorly on the coaching deliverables for your member and the gym as a whole.

The same is true of things like social media or blogging: When it comes to delegating, it’s imperative to set your team up for success.

Finally, if you can’t delegate, outsource.

For example, if programming is a time-suck but you don’t have a coach who wants the role, consider outsourcing. From programming to marketing, there’s a great variety of helpful options on the market.

3. Automation Is A Game-Changer.

It’s about time. Seeking out time-saving tools and strategies is what helps to advance you into the CEO role quicker.

Technology is one of those tools. And automation is like building the right team of lead generation, follow-up and member experience specialists.

Use automation to nurture leads and inform gym members

If you’ve never explored a gym CRM (Customer Relationship Management), this could be a pivotal moment. CRMs can tackle everything from proper lead follow-up to identifying at-risk members before they quit. Plus, you can schedule social media posts and spread the word to gym members about upcoming sales or events.

For your bottom line, this means increased sales conversions, client retention and overall revenue.

Pro Tip: Want to find out how automation can help your gym with tasks that bog you down? Book a demo with the PushPress Grow team today!

Implementing automation was a game-changer for Gillian da Silva, owner of Rise Fitness in Florida. In 2020, she was wearing all the hats and her plate was overflowing. But when she discovered PushPress, she described it as “the control center in everything we do.” By automating many of her tasks, Rise Fitness is a gym success story today and da Silva is flourishing as a business owner.

In Summary: Building The Right Team Is The Foundation

At the beginning of your gym ownership journey, handling all the tasks is a necessary evil. But as you grow, having a team of professional, trustworthy people will take you much farther than flying solo ever would.

Lay the foundation by filling the roles you most need help with, with the people who best fit those roles. Delegate as much as you’re able and take advantage of automation to save yourself a ton of time. Your future (CEO) self will appreciate your efforts while on that two-week vacation.

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009.

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