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Staffing Your CrossFit Gym: Trainers, Coaches, and Legal

Your gym staff are the lifeblood of your operation - you need to have the right team in place to build your business, and this is how.

Sam Karoll
July 4, 2022
TLDR;
Your gym staff are the lifeblood of your operation - you need to have the right team in place to build your business, and this is how.

You’re leading a community in your CrossFit gym, but without having the right people on your staff, it’s the blind leading the blind. There’s a hierarchy to how your CrossFit gym is supposed to run, and it’s at the very foundation of what makes CrossFit so profitable and powerful in the first place.

There’s an organizational structure we have to break down, from who’s in your staff, who’s on the payroll, and which members of your staff are personal contractors. Thanks to the fact that independent contractors/freelancers make up a huge body of work in the US these days, staffing your gym doesn’t have to be a hassle. This is what you need to know.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure lays out responsibilities, roles, and the hierarchy of your gym and gym culture. Without structure, nobody knows who’s in charge, where the chain of command is, and who should be talking to whom.

As the name suggests, this keeps you organized. You can’t handle every single issue that pops up and apply superior levels of attendance and care to every situation. It’s just not feasible. You need to have the right people in place to deal with problems head-on.

Roles and Responsibilities

Roles won’t look the same in every gym. Sure, you’ll have your owner, coaches, and front desk staff, but depending on the size of your gym it could go much deeper than that.

Over time, you may hire management to take over your day-to-day activities as well. The structure can change, but it’s important that responsibilities are laid out, clear as day, and there are no miscommunications between roles. These are the typical roles you’ll see even in the smallest gyms, and what each of them mean for your business.

Owner

That’s you. You run the show, you own the business, but that doesn’t mean that you can slip into a comfortable position during the day-to-day operations. In fact, you have a lot on your plate, including:

  • Upholding all core values of the entire gym and business
  • Maintaining operation policies and procedures; everything runs smoothly under your watch
  • Lead monthly meetings for staff members
  • Solve customer service issues at every single level
  • Manage the budget and maintain staff
  • Hire new staff and conduct interviews
  • Conduct reviews for staff, discuss raises, check-in about goals and more
  • Ensure all coaches and assistants are available for daily programming
  • Train new staff on procedures and operations
  • Maintain social media and website content
  • Process all payroll and checks for staff and employees
  • Maintain relationships with freelancers for accounting, web design, marketing, etc.
  • Manage vendor partnerships
  • Create, stock, and take inventory of merchandise and retail items

Those are just some of the things that you can expect to encounter as an owner and operator. There are other roles, some of which you can pass down some duties onto, but management is a personal role you’ll hire for. For now, let’s look at your head coach, and what they’ll be doing each day.

Head Coach

A head coach is the manager of all coaches, instructors, and anyone else in a similar role (depending on the types of classes you offer). They are essentially one step beneath you in the hierarchy rank since most of CrossFit’s business comes from classes, and they’ll be in charge of them. This is what they typically do:

  • Maintain core values, the same as you
  • Interview, hire, and train new coaches
  • Create systems and processes to assist new instructors every step of the way
  • Motivate members, maintain a positive attitude
  • Attend monthly staff meetings so you can be on the same page
  • Understand different member and athlete capabilities and goals
  • Stay up-to-date on research, training, and other CrossFit class protocol and practice
  • Make sure all coaches maintain their structure and keep a safe environment for their athletes to train in
  • Keep ongoing evaluation checks on all staff within their jurisdiction

Think of a head coach as your right-hand man or woman. They’re not going to be teaching classes very often, but instead they’ll be making sure that your classes go over well, and your instructors are at their peak, pinnacle form for training members of your gym. That’s extremely important in a class-centric revenue model.

Coach

While coaches do have fewer tasks to take care of each day, they also directly interact with your staff during classes. They’re also responsible for maintaining a high energy level and keeping the movement of your gym-going. These are some of the responsibilities that you can expect from your coaches:

  • Attend monthly staff meetings
  • Pay attention to the wants and needs of members
  • Run classes, maintain high energy and lead classes with confidence
  • Instruct members on their movements and positioning during classes
  • Help member safety, teach proper technique and posture habits to members
  • Greet new members when they see them
  • Help out with member needs in the machine part of your gym when not hosting a class
  • Help get sign-ups for classes by offering discounts or one-day free entry tickets to existing clients (so that they can bring a friend or family member along for the next one)

Front Desk

These team members are the face of your gym. They’re the first people that new members and athletes will see when they walk in, and the last people they’ll see when they leave. It’s imperative that you train your front desk staff to be friendly, personable, and helpful. In addition to maintaining a happy demeanor, these other tasks can be expected of them as well:

  • Maintain core values, same as you do
  • Train other front desk staff on how to market and get sign-ups for classes, difference of classes, etc.
  • Support day-to-day class-based operations, assist when needed with members in the machine part of your gym
  • Track memberships and changes, work to maintain class structure and schedule, accommodate members as needed to help them keep their class commitments
  • Make purchase orders for supplies and specialty items depending on clientele requirements
  • Monitor apparel and retail items, maintain inventory
  • Provide accounting information for their department
  • Communicate with members, make sure they’re feeling their best

Independent Contractors You Will Need

Independent contractors, or freelancers, are imperative to your business (especially during the early stages). If you can’t afford a full-time accountant, designer, or bookkeeper (as many people can’t), then you’re going to want to cut costs and avoid paying out benefits by going with independent contractors. These are the positions you’ll need to hire for, and why you need them.

Lawyer

All it takes is one accident in your gym to ruin your CrossFit membership as an affiliate owner. That is, if you don’t have legal help set up and ready to handle the issue. Their brand name is attached to your gym, so if legal problems show up and can’t be resolved, then you’re going to run into a big problem.

Have legal help ready. Even as a freelancer, have your lawyer available for X amount of time per month. They can review contracts, talk about procedures, notices, and help you understand what your gym is lacking for warnings, notices, and information in contracts.

Lawyers can help you gym with:

  • Designing Contracts: Get them in on the ground floor now, and you’ll be able to build your business with your lawyer at the center of it all. It’s better to have them at the foundational level before you launch your business.
  • Legal Disputes: Someone tripped due to negligence from a cleaning crew member, or lack of signs? They help you with those problems. It’s not the same as hiring an attorney, but they can help you resolve problems like these.
  • Legal Proofing: Make your signs, contracts, and every other aspect of your business airtight with a lawyer. They look over documents, make sure everything is legal, and help you make better decisions as a result.

Accountant

You can put an account on a monthly retainer, just like you can with a lawyer. They prepare financial reports, handle your taxes, and help you calculate costs, risk assessments, and more. They’re basically a financial officer for your business, and come with a plethora of skills.

Accounts will help your business run efficiently, make it lean, and try to drive profits while you focus on the elements of the business that keep it moving in the first place.

Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping is pretty straightforward until you get into it. The data quickly becomes overwhelming, and you get lost. Plus, it’s not going to help you expand or further your business.

Bookkeepers have difficult jobs, especially if you hire them after you already have months of financial data, invoices, and vendor transactions that pile up. Get a bookkeeper early on, and you’ll be happy that you did.

Designer

Designers are the backbone of your marketing. They know color theory, how and why you use all lowercase text for readability, contrast, how to avoid making ads that alienate individuals with vision impairments, and more. Design needs to be attractive and get the message across. You can’t do your marketing without having a designer on board.

Marketing

Marketing can be pricey, and it’s absolutely time-consuming. When you throw in a creative element to help get a one-up on the competition, it costs extra (creatives are expensive and they know their value). To get your marketing ready and set up your campaign, you need an independent marketing contractor.

They’ll help you with social media, Google Ad posts, YouTube video ads, direct response copy, and more. Marketing is tricky and, much like income, requires more than one stream to keep the results flowing properly. You really don’t want to skimp on your marketing efforts.

IT

Information technology seems like an odd position to need in your gym, but what your IT department does for your business is really undervalued by a lot of people. They keep your servers going, your internet up to date and up to speed, and help prevent any malicious attacks on our website (such as DDoSing). IT is that department that you wonder why you pay for, and then when disaster strikes, IT comes in to the rescue and you realize that it’s the best insurance policy in a digital-first world that you could possibly ask for.

Maintenance

Maintenance isn’t just about keeping the place clean (that’s a separate job entirely). Maintenance is all about keeping your machines (and gym) running smoothly. They’ll replace broken ceiling tiles, fix treadmills, and perform maintenance (as in, before problems start happening) to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.

This position is often overlooked, but trust us when we say this: the second a problem pops up that you don’t know how to solve, you’ll kick yourself for not having regular maintenance on-hand.

Cleaning Crew

Gyms get sweaty. Sweat doesn’t smell good, and it sticks to everything. You need a cleaning crew to keep the pathways clear, mop the floor, and clean the sweat off of treadmills and those mats in your classroom. Cleaning crews and maintenance work cohesively together. When your maintenance team needs help cleaning up a mess during a repair, they can get the job done quickly.

Apart from wiping down the front counter, your front end desk staff shouldn’t be responsible for cleaning. They shouldn’t be distracted. Their entire focus should be on the customer experience and helping them in every way possible. Make sure your cleaning crew has a daily list and understands their expectations.

Staffing With Contractors and Employees

Leverage the power of independent contractors, build up your employment force, and do everything that you can to create an amazing working atmosphere. Especially at the time of writing, there’s a labor shortage because individuals are not being paid enough.

You can have an immediate and powerful edge by simply paying more than other gyms do in your area. Remember that there is no successful gym without a successful and dedicated staff. Be a leader; not a boss.

Sam Karoll

Sam is our Community Manager for PushPress. He also owns and operates Xplore Nutrition, a personalized nutrition coaching service designed "for your lifestyle and goals by a Coach who's always available."

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