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How Fitness Brands Can Attract & Retain Gen Z Talent

How Fitness Brands Can Attract & Retain Gen Z Talent

How can gym managers create a workplace that prioritizes Gen Z’s unique needs? A NASM-certified wellness coach shares her tips

As Gen Z enters the fitness industry workforce, their distinct perspectives on work-life balance and wellness are reshaping workplace culture. 

According to Qureos, an employment recruitment platform, Gen Z currently comprises 30% of the global population and is projected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. 

This demographic shift underscores the need for fitness facility owners and managers to create environments that not only attract but also retain this young talent.

Sophia Koehler-Berkley, a NASM-certified Wellness Coach and educational consultant based in Brooklyn, shares how fitness and wellness professionals can effectively support Gen Z staff and create collaborative teams.

Understand Gen Z’s Presence in the Workforce

The newest entrants into the workforce aren’t just looking for jobs—they’re seeking environments that prioritize their well-being and respect their boundaries. 

“Gen Z is overwhelmed by workloads, with many working multiple jobs to sustain themselves,” says Koehler-Berkley. “They seek clarity in their professional roles and value flexibility.” 

Sophia Koehler-Berkley (credit: NASM)

This insight is particularly poignant considering that 72% of Gen Z workers have either left or considered leaving a job due to inadequate flexible work policies. In addition, this generation faces unique challenges and constant social media interaction, which profoundly affect their mental health and workplace expectations. 

Koehler-Berkley says that Gen Z is also overwhelmed by workloads, “with many working multiple jobs to sustain themselves.” Therefore, “they seek clarity in their professional roles and value flexibility.” 

As a service-oriented industry, fitness professionals understand the importance of wellness, but it may still be taken for granted, which is why an intentional program may go a long way toward making Gen Z feel like a productive part of the team. 

Build Effective Wellness Programs

Koehler-Berkley says that connection is one critical component that underpins any good wellness program, and the fitness industry has a deep well of resources to pull from.

“Creating connections within the workplace is crucial—not just interpersonal but also aligning the company’s mission with its daily practices,” she emphasizes. 

For gym managers, this means ensuring that the facility’s values around holistic wellness are clearly communicated and practiced.

“If you promote holistic wellness, differentiate between mental health days and sick days in your policy,” Koehler-Berkley says.

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It can be tempting to focus on what Koehler-Berkley calls the “top two” wellness objectives – physical activity and nutrition. Pulling from her NASM certification, she stresses the importance of addressing “the whole of wellness,” which includes, in her words, “not just the physical movement, but what that movement actually means.” 

Toward that end, Koehler-Berkley provides the following actionable steps for fitness leaders who want to support Gen Z staff.

  • Provide clear communication: Clearly define job roles and expectations from the outset to prevent misunderstandings. Ensure that all team members understand their responsibilities and the flexibility offered.
  • Model healthy boundaries: Show your staff that it’s okay to prioritize personal well-being by doing so yourself. If you need a mental health day, take it openly.
  • This behavior models healthy practices and demonstrates to your team that their happiness is a priority.
  • Address the impact of technology: Recognize the role of technology and social media in Gen Z’s life. Facilitate “in real life” social interactions and provide support for managing the pressures that come from constant digital connectivity.
  • Do regular check-ins: Schedule regular meetings with your staff to gather feedback on the effectiveness of wellness initiatives. This is essential for adjusting programs to better meet their needs.
credit: – Yuri A/

How To Measure Success

Koehler-Berkley highlights collaborative efforts in evaluating the effectiveness of wellness programs that retain top talent and recommends deciding on what to zone in on as a team. 

“Are we going to focus on absences or prioritizing mental health days?” she says. “Make sure the goals are relevant and clearly understood by everyone.” 

She also suggests going the extra mile and defining what success might look or feel like since the measurement may be more qualitative than quantitative. When managers see less turnover and fewer callouts, for example, that’s a clear indicator of progress. When Gen Z staff stay and contribute, the results follow, which is very important in fitness where the churn rate can be high. 

“If you create an environment where being a personal trainer at your facility is seen as a privilege, it’s a sign you’re doing things right,” Koehler-Berkley says. “It’s almost like a competition to join your team, which indicates a positive and supportive workplace culture.”

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