Fitness Industry Hiring: How to Recruit Personal Trainers

Anyone that has ever followed a health regimen will tell you this: It isn’t easy! And fitness businesses that are trying to recruit personal trainers will likely tell you the same thing. 

Personal trainers are an invaluable resource for fitness clients that need guidance and motivation, so finding the right person with the right skills and personality traits is crucial. 

However, in the everchanging hiring landscape, doing so might be easier said than done. 

We’re sharing our best tips for how to recruit personal trainers so that you can grow your team with the right people and help more of your customers get the results they are looking for. 

1. Know the qualities you’re looking for 

There’s one crucial hiring step that needs to happen before you review an applicant’s resume or sit down for an interview. This step needs to happen even before you post your open job online or put up a “We’re Hiring” flyer in your gym. 

You have to get clear on the kind of candidates you’re looking for. 

Whether you’re hiring one personal trainer or many, it’s important to take the time to think about the skills, qualifications, and personality traits you want them to have. 

First, consider that fitness training is a relationship-driven business. Sure, trainers should have all the technical hard skills associated with fitness, but just as important are the soft skills. So, what are some qualities of a good personal trainer based on data gathered from behavioral assessments?

Good personal trainers need to be sociable, driven, patient, and confident. Fitness customers are seeking guidance, assurance, and direction, so for candidates, the ability to quickly connect with people is a must. A great trainer will build rapport and trust and propel their trainees forward. Building trust with clients is easier when they perceive the trainer as approachable, and a calm demeanor goes a long way.

Think about what additional qualities are important for your business. Along with the soft skills you want your trainers to demonstrate, think about the certifications and experience that is non-negotiable for you. 

We recommend filling it all out in an Ideal Candidate Profile. This can help you stay focused as you move through the hiring process and ensure that you are evaluating candidates based on what is crucial for the role. 

Ideal Candidate Profile Template

Improve your hiring process from the very beginning by getting clear on who you are looking for. Download your free Ideal Candidate Profile template and guide created by our team of Hiring Experts.


2. Take advantage of peak applicant flow  

We found in our annual Recruiting Metrics Report, that in a typical year fitness businesses see a huge spike in applicants in January. While the applicants were most active in January, fitness employers actually did the least of their hiring that month, meaning that they missed out on the peak applicant volume for the year. 

Most fitness industry employers do the majority of their hiring during the summer months and face a smaller applicant pool at that time. If you’re able to, consider recruiting personal trainers (and other gym staff) in January ahead of the summer months when competition for talent is higher. 

For our clients, we also recommend always having a passive job posting up — this is a job posted only to your careers page (not job boards) with a status of “Accepting for Future Openings.” A job of this type indicates that you are passively recruiting and will reach out to candidates when an opening becomes available.

Passive recruiting can help you make connections with applicants when they are most active. It can help you keep more candidates in your hiring pipeline, which gives you more options when it’s actually time to make a hire. 

3. Invest in a strong careers page

Though job boards produce the most applicants, they do not produce hires at the same rate as other sources. For the fitness industry, company careers pages are responsible for nearly half of all hires despite only bringing in 24% of applicants. Compare that to job boards, which bring in 71% of applicants, but convert to hires at a much lower rate, resulting in only 42% of hires overall. 

In our research, fitness employer careers pages remain the highest performing of any industry, year after year. One explanation for the extraordinary careers page hire rate is that fitness is an industry with a huge overlap between customers and potential employees – people who love coming to your gym are often the people that are best qualified and most interested in joining your team. 

Focus your efforts on marketing your employment opportunities to your customers and highlighting your employer brand on your careers page. Check out the video below to learn more about building a great careers page. 

4. Pre-qualify applicants for faster hiring 

Let’s talk a little about hiring speed. Though being the fastest isn’t everything, it certainly can help you hire the best candidates before they are scooped up by the competition! One easy way to reduce your time to hire is to prequalify your applicants. 

For many personal training positions, you will be looking for a certain license or certification and sometimes, you need a specific availability. Use pre-screen questions on your application to ensure that every applicant that lands in your inbox has the skills, availability, and work authorization to be eligible for your roles. Plus, with an applicant tracking system like CareerPlug, you can automatically fast-track applicants that check all your boxes and send polite rejections to any applicants that don’t.

A few pre-screen questions can be a simple way to save a lot of time in your hiring process and make sure that only the most qualified applicants are moving forward. 

5. Contact candidates first with text recruiting 

Another way to hire faster is to use text recruiting. Text recruiting can help you reach candidates sooner and keep them more engaged throughout the hiring process. 

​​Just look at the numbers: Email has only a 20% open rate – compared to text messages, which have a 98% open rate. The average email gets a response about 6% of the time compared with the average text message, which has a 45% response rate. 

This is especially important for the fitness industry which had a higher than average “time to contact” than other industries in our Recruiting Metrics Report, at 13.8 days. 

The best candidates will always have options. So contact applicants sooner and stay top of mind with text recruiting to improve your chances of hiring the best personal trainers. 

To sum it up

Fitness businesses are facing the same challenges as everyone else: finding and hiring the right people for their team. Fortunately, with the right changes to your hiring process, you can recruit personal trainers more easily. 

Know who you are looking for and consider hiring in January to take advantage of the larger applicant pool. Invest in a great careers page, since it can produce a large amount of high quality hires in this industry. Use pre-screen questions on your application and text recruiting to hire faster than your competitors. 

You can create a careers page and speed up your time to hire with automations and text recruiting through CareerPlug. Courtney Wyatt, General Manager of six OrangeTheory studios in the Nashville area, had this to say about hiring software: 

“CareerPlug has saved our organization so much time with the hiring process! It’s simple to use, makes the hiring process seamless, and it’s all in one place! I love that I can see all 6 of my studios while setting up my team to only have access to their studio. Our quality of candidates has increased tremendously. It’s been a game changer for us!” 

Improve Your Hiring Process with CareerPlug

Create a great careers page, automate hiring tasks, try text recruiting, and more. A great recruitment process all starts with the right hiring software. Click the button below to try CareerPlug today!


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