By Ryan Ketchum, Special AFS Contributor

Many fitness studio owners make their first hire out of desperation.  The stress piles up, you’re on the edge of burnout and you hire someone to take some of the stuff off your plate that you hate doing.  Ultimately, the new hire doesn’t work out and you’re right back to where you started. 

So, how do you avoid the hiring mistakes made by nearly every business owner and bring on a team member that will allow you to grow your business without causing you more stress and frustration?

Create The Position

There’s a good chance that you haven’t thought of the position title or responsibilities for the role when you first hire a team member.  You’re bringing them on in either a trainer role or admin role to take some of the pressure off you. 

When you hire without a clear plan for what position you’re hiring for there’s a good chance you’ll end up hiring a person and building a role around them instead of hiring a person to fit a role.  That may not seem like a big deal now, but when that person leaves (and they will) you’ll have a role that no one else can fill. 

Before you start your hiring process make sure you have a clear position description built out. 


Here’s a framework to get your position description set up:

  • Title
  • Department
  • Supervisor/Manager
  • Core Responsibilities
  • Metrics
  • Specific Duties
  • Competencies Required

The two critical pieces of this position description are the Core Responsibilities and Metrics. These two components provide clarity in the role and allow the new hire to know exactly what is expected of them.  

Core Responsibilities are the one to three things that are a top priority for the position. They are the things that must get done in order for this position to support the growth and vision of the company. 

Metrics on the position description are the one to three numbers or key performance indicators that will be used to assess the performance of this position.  Every position in your business should have at least one number they are measuring and you are assessing.   

Build Your Hiring Process

Searching for a new employee without having a process built out for hiring can lead to a lot of unnecessary work.  Outline the position promotion and interview process ahead of time so that you don’t have to ‘figure it out’ as you go.   This allows you to spend your time and energy on interviewing candidates. 

Below is an example of a hiring process…

At each step you are trying to disqualify any candidates that aren’t a perfect fit for your business.  With your first hire, because it is likely for a lower level position, you can afford to use a bare bones hiring process.  As your business grows and develops you will need a more thorough hiring process for higher level positions in your organization.

Know Your Budget

The worst thing you can do when hiring is go in without knowing what you should pay your new employee.  There are many ways to figure out the compensation plan for team members, but it all starts with your budget. 

This may be a time where you are willing to sacrifice profit margins for a short period of time to hire a new team member.  Once you are able to get them trained on their new positions it should free up your time to produce more revenue for your business.  Investing $12-15/hour in an admin assistant so that you can win back 10-15 hours per week to market or train clients is a worthwhile investment that will provide a great return. 

What Position To Hire?

Most of the time hiring an admin assistant or front desk staff is going to be your best first hire.  You are able to hire these positions at a lower cost per hour and they are easier to find than a skilled trainer.  The tasks they perform are likely the tasks you don’t like doing, so it's a win-win.

Finding trainers is a bit more expensive and in many locations tougher to find.  Typically it is best to find trainers that are new to the industry and develop them using your systems.  This takes a lot of energy and time, so it’s not usually your best hire.

Avoid Hiring Mistakes

With the right plan and some foresight you can avoid most of the hiring mistakes that many fitness studio owners make.  There are still going to be learning curves and lessons that you have to learn the hard way, but following the steps laid out here will reduce much of the frustration. 

The right hire can be a lifesaver for your business, but the wrong hire can cost you thousands of dollars and lots of stress.  Take your time to find the right person for the position and avoid hiring out of desperation. 


Ryan Ketchum is a fitness business and marketing expert.  He and the team at Fitness Revolution help studio owners increase sales, maximize profits and create systems to free up time.   They use a framework, the Fitness Business Alignment System™, to guarantee results with their clients.  

Fitness Revolution focuses on helping aspiring high performers build the fitness business they’ve always wanted, but struggled to build.  They are the only complete business coaching system for fitness studios. 

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