How to Improve Your Fitness Leadership and Communication Skills
As a fitness professional and the leader of your business, you're likely well-versed in the art of managing relationships. From vendors and suppliers to clients and members at your studio and across your franchises, skillful communication is incredibly important, but perhaps equally critical to the success of your studio are the connections you maintain with your staff.
An engaged team is a crucial part of ensuring your members are happy—and communicating well with your clients is key for promoting retention. To boost your fitness leadership skills, we’ve gathered our top tips for keeping the lines of communication between you and your staff clear and strong—and identified a few common mistakes to avoid!
Build consistent communication
If you can’t frequently interact in person with your staff, they might feel a bit like ships passing in the night. This is all the more reason to create consistent and transparent communication with your team across all your locations. This could be in the form of regular emails, video messages, or printed updates posted in areas the staff checks regularly.
Be sure to always keep your team up to date on things like:
Current promotions and sales
Changes in the schedule or hours
Changes in studio policy
Membership structures, cancellation policies, etc.
Upcoming events and workshops
Make communication a two-way street
One of the most important qualities of strong leadership is giving your team the space to provide feedback, make suggestions, share their experiences, and ask questions. That means you shouldn’t only stay in touch with your team but also foster an environment of open dialogue across your business. This might look like regular individual or small group check-ins with staff, holding open forums or Q&A sessions at the end of team meetings, or simply encouraging an open-door policy. This allows everyone on the team to have a voice, and you’ll receive a lot more insight into the day-to-day wins and struggles across your studio.
Foster a studio culture
Every studio has its own messaging and culture, and the success of your business depends on creating a strong and unified team of employees. In other words, everyone on your team should be in full alignment. If you as the leader have a strong vision around certain aspects of that culture, it's critical that you communicate your expectations to your staff in a clear manner.
Ways to share these values can include:
Team trainings. Hold in-person or virtual trainings to discuss matters like inclusivity, body-positive language, or even how to talk about the various offerings at your studio.
A comprehensive staff manual. This document should be kept up to date with your expectations around language, procedures, and culture in as much detail as possible. For example, if you don't want your staff to address their classes with the often-used "guys," make that clear and offer gender-neutral language such as “all,” "friends,” or “folks.”
Share appreciation and encouragement
If you want a team that is positive and encouraging with clients, take every opportunity you can to be the same with your staff! When you communicate with them, consider leading and closing messages with positive encouragement. That could mean sharing feedback you got from a happy client, talking about how full classes have been recently, celebrating staff birthdays, or highlighting ways in which everyone has been working well together.
Avoid common pitfalls
Even if your weekly emails and messaging are top-notch, some common mistakes can undermine your leadership and your staff's enthusiasm. Make sure you avoid:
Playing favourites. Inevitably, you will click better with some staff members than others, but that should never be apparent. As an experienced practitioner in fitness leadership, you must treat everyone fairly within the framework of their position at your studio and at every location. Instructors should feel respected and valued, regardless of seniority or level of experience. Be sure this is communicated in all your messaging.
Not adhering to your own procedures. Consistency should not only be preached but also modelled. If you have team meetings, arrive early to demonstrate to your team how much you value them. Meticulously follow your own expectations about language, attire, behaviour in the studio, and any other guidelines you set for your staff.
Always putting clients before staff. Clients will have opinions and complaints. But do your staff trust that you support them and have their backs in how you handle those situations? In some cases, the client isn't right, and you should demonstrate leadership by standing up for your employees.
Running a successful studio certainly requires a lot of business tact. But leveling up your communication skills can help you move from a savvy small business owner to a true fitness leader who inspires your team.