By Israel Allen 

The 6 Things You Need to Know in Order to Put Your People and Business in a Place to Succeed.

Running a business can be tough at any level.  Whether you are a Personal Trainer, a Fitness Manager, a Gym Owner/Operator or an Entrepreneur, this is part of the game.  Many young professionals and managers tend to get very frustrated and overwhelmed by the challenges in our trade specifically.  In an industry where employee turnover rate is 70+ percent annually, this leads to a number of challenges in finding the right people, as well as, devoting the resources needed to train them and keep them motivated.  With client satisfaction/results being a key concern to earning repeat business and referrals, this gap in employee turnover can largely influence your customer’s experience and rate of retention. With the retention rate being stressed, this in turn increases pressure to deliver top line sales while keeping your customers happy.  As a result, you must find more passionate professionals to keep these newly acquired customers pleased and achieving results.  And the. cycle continues.  Does this juggling act sound familiar?  You are not alone.  The good news is, it doesn’t have to be so complex.

By creating a SYSTEM in how you view and prioritize your focus, this in turn will help simplify your fitness business.

S - Save

Y - Yourself

S - Some

T - Time

E - Energy

M - Money

A successful system usually needs to meet a few criteria.  First of all, it must be replicable in different situations.  It should also be transferable to a variety of skill sets.  Lastly, it needs to be systematic or sequential in nature, thus containing a proverbial “if this than that” or “A causes B” approach.   One system I have found to be highly effective, I have termed the 6’S model.  It’s a  play on words, for sure, but it meets the criteria above, has helped many leaders and professionals alike, and is easy to remember.

  1. Staffing
  2. Schedule
  3. Structure
  4. Skill
  5. Sales
  6. Service


“You don’t build a business. You build people, and people build the business.” -Zig Ziglar


The first and most important of this system is our staffing. People are not part of your business, they ARE your business.  We are in the people business first, and the fitness business second.  If you don’t hire the right people, hire enough people, or both, this makes everything more difficult.  The opposite is true as well:  The right people working together not only makes for a better experience, but also brings about results, as long as they are working on the right things.

Questions to ask:

  • Do I have enough staff to provide adequate coverage for our customers?
  • Do I have the right people placed in  their corresponding roles?
  • Do each of my team members align with our core values?


Even the right people need to be working at the right times in order to create the right impact.  Makes sense, right?  Yet, this is easier said than done.  Sometimes employees might be limited in what they are willing to work.  However, the needs of your business and your customers still remain.  What do you do if this happens? Most of this can be covered in the hiring process by setting accurate expectations regarding the schedule and working with your team to ensure they follow this as closely as possible. However, having an adaptability to the changing needs of customers should also be considered.  For example, if summer schedules dictate that your client, a stay at home mom, can no longer come in at 9 am through the week, the team must be resourceful.  This might mean that the client switches to a weekend day, and on the weekdays she must come in around 6 am or 6 pm.  If the trainer can’t or won’t work at this time, the manager must find a solution to ensure that the client’s needs are met.  Some facilities will accommodate by having another trainer administer the workouts during the morning time.

Questions to ask:

  • Are we working the schedule to the needs of the business?
  • Do we have enough coverage for a 7 day business?


“What in the world do you do all day?”  Have you ever uttered these words?  Come on now.  At some point, most of us have either thought this to ourselves or possibly even mentioned this to someone about another coworker’s productivity. Note: If you are married, voicing this aloud is NOT advised. But seriously, if you have ever managed others, had expectations and deadlines, or have been responsible for expense management, you have definitely come across this!  The reality is that we all can struggle with focus. Many of qualified employees are busy, they just might not be productive.  This could be due to poor direction, an inability to prioritize, or a number of other reasons.  It is our job as leaders to ensure every employee on our team is pulling in the right direction and that they have clearly defined goals and a framework for how to get there. Providing a structure for how a team member’s day, week, and month might look like and setting targets, such as calls, appointments, and standard conversion ratios, might be a good start.  Additionally, when juggling multiple tasks or expectations, I have found it beneficial to provide team members with 1-2 top priorities for the week.

See the example below:

Questions to ask:

  • Are we doing the right work throughout the day?
  • Are we using the systems and tools we have been provided?


What skills do you have?  How much time do you spend every week mastering these?  I mean really practicing them by reading, listening, watching, and doing with others until you are the best at what you do.  There seems to be a lack of enthusiasm in many companies with investing the time and resources to ensure their people are the best.  There also seems to be a lack by employees using the resources they have at their disposal, thus simply relying on whatever comes naturally or on old learning.  As our industry evolves, it is imperative that our skills evolve, as well.  It is also the responsibility of the business to provide the necessary resources and tools to their team, while also applying certain habits of rhythm around regular trainings.  By doing so, they convey what they value and hold true to these standards, thus setting the expectation for personal development and excellence. Common skill developments centered around communication, sales, service, conflict resolution, and technical training, can be done in many formats.  To best ensure that the 3 learning styles are met (audible, visual, and kinesthetic), the below example might be a good guide to follow:

  • Daily- Spend the morning in person roleplay and skill development.  Spend the afternoon repeatedly using LMS courses, such as BCE or CPT, from PTA Global.
  • 1-2 times per week- Execute group practice and collaborative roleplay (hands on activity every 20-25 minutes)
  • 2 times per month- Administer technical training, operational updates or existing content review.  Conducting these via video calls or in person meetings is ideal.
  • Monthly-  Hold a team participation meeting and follow-up on skills they feel they need help with, including  what formats they would like to see.  Content review, such as a group book or course training, along with key takeaways, would prove beneficial.

A couple of key aspects that appear crucial to good skill development are :  (1) constant and continuous feedback from participants in how they need to learn, and (2) delivering content that is relevant, while catering to a myriad of learning styles.  These principles, along with a “tell-show-do” or an “educate-demonstrate- imitate” style of delivery, tend to be most effective.

Questions to ask:

  • What additional training does my team need?
  • When and how often do we need to schedule this training?


The products and services we sell matter.  Not just, “How many or how much?”, but also “What type and why?”.  Matching the program, product or solution that best meets the wants and needs of the client is essential.  Additionally, ensuring that what is sold also matches the needs of the business to achieve certain targets or financial metrics, is also a necessity.  In sales, there is a term used called VPM. It stands for Volume, Price and Mix.  Meaning: (V) Did the volume sold match the need? (P) Was the price point the items were sold at, below or above what was needed?  And (M) What was the product sold ratio (ex: PT 1 on 1 vs. group).  Sales professionals can be working very hard to keep customers in front of them and key performance indicators (KPI’s) on par, but if the prices behind the items sold are 50-75% less than average , this will pose significant challenges in reaching targets. In most cases, the challenges in selling too low tend to be either a skill issue or a value issue for the salesperson.  Yes, you read that correctly...the salesperson, not the customer, must see the value first.  It is crucial that sales professionals believe 100% in the value of their solutions and are 100% committed to matching this solution to the customers’ needs.  They must use the solutions themselves and be able to speak to the benefits of those solutions personally.  If not, this comes across in their ability to influence customers, while being genuine in doing so.

Questions to ask:

  • Is each player meeting the standards?
  • Does each player truly understand and believe in what they are selling?
  • Is our Volume, Price, and Mix where we need this to be?


“The Best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others” -Ghandi

Service is the starting line and the finish line.  It’s an opportunity to deliver on a promise.  It’s also an opportunity keep customers long term and to earn additional business by their referrals.  Service is where integrity is built and raving fans are made.  Unfortunately, for many businesses, this tends to be the weakest area of focus.  Some businesses will do just enough to keep a customer or address issues only when they become a problem in revenue.  Most defense in business is reactionary, at best, when companies and teams don’t have the right culture and precise priorities.  This can be changed, though, when companies hire the best people who align with core values and treat those values as world class. This then flows down to the customer.  Prioritizing the customers’ needs first starts with helping to meet the team’s needs.  Layer in good leadership, consistency, and a common goal of excellence among the team, and you have a pretty solid culture and happy, loyal customers.

Questions to ask:

  • How much time in a given week do our average employees spend on resolving customer issues before they become big problems?
  • How often are we calling or sending feedback surveys to get insight on how we can best meet our customers’ needs?
  • What 3 things do we do to make our service second to none?

It’s time to reverse the common challenges most fitness businesses and companies experience! By getting to the root, we will change the fruit!  If we start with the right people, everything else gets better.  Yet, at the same time,  good people won’t stay without experiencing success.  Obtaining this success is possible through clear direction, providing the tools to be successful, and following a system that empowers your team.  In doing this, you can change more lives, make more money, and repeat this process again and again.

Israel Allen In the past 15 years, Israel has gained experience operating in various roles in the industry. He started as a Personal Trainer with a large corporate chain and moved into roles as Fitness Manager, General Manager, Regional Manager of PT, and Regional Director of Fitness overseeing as many as 160 locations. During this time, he had amazing experiences such as being selected as a company Olympic Ambassador for the 2008, 2010, and 2012 Olympics. Additionally, Israel was selected as an EAS brand ambassador and consultant for certifications such as NCSF on content creation and improvements in their PT certification. He also currently sits on the Cooper Institute PT advisory board. Throughout his time in the industry, Israel was also part of NBC’s The Biggest Loser program TV show in which the support led to his client winning the 2012 Season. Israel holds accomplishments such as being selected as Personal Trainer of the Year and Fitness Manager of the Year. He is currently serving as the National Director of Fitness with the Houston based Fitness Connection health club chain and oversees the development and operations of their Personal Training Services. Israel resides in Houston with his wife Michelle and two children ages 13 and 7.