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How ISSA Is Meeting the Rising Demand for Personal Trainers

How ISSA Is Meeting the Rising Demand for Personal Trainers

ISSA’s recruitment solutions go beyond traditional job postings, connecting students with gym owners and operators in need of talent

The fitness industry is facing a rising demand for personal trainers that surpasses the available supply, presenting both opportunities and obstacles. This situation requires a deep understanding of the industry’s current dynamics, particularly the balance between properly preparing personal trainers and connecting them with their desired career path. 

According to Future Market Insights, the need for personal fitness trainers “continuously increases due to rising per capita disposable income and the decreasing unemployment rate.” A market outlook report from the organization states that the global personal fitness trainer market is estimated to be valued at $41.8 billion in 2023, and is projected to surpass $65.5 billion in 10 years.

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is actively responding to the growing consumer interest in personal training through the development of extensive educational programs and recruitment strategies. This initiative is not just about meeting the immediate demands of the fitness industry; it’s also focused on contributing to its sustained growth and evolution. 

Is it Really Supply & Demand?

Popular online job boards are brimming with vacancies for personal trainers. ISSA’s Senior National Sales Manager Johnny August notes that one major job site touts more than 13,750 personal trainer positions across the United States alone.

“This significant number suggests a couple of possibilities: either job boards are exceptionally good at selling their ad space, or we’re facing a real challenge,” August explains. 

However, ISSA sees this not as a supply and demand issue but as a “matter of connecting and communicating effectively.”

“We’re graduating thousands of students monthly, who then opt-in to our Career Pathways program each month,” August says. “These are unique candidates. By my calculations, three months’ worth of our graduates could fill all those open positions.”

Johnny August (credit: ISSA)

A Growth Issue

This demand is largely positive, according to August, signaling growth within the fitness industry.

“There are now numerous ways fitness professionals can serve and assist people, opening up a variety of paths for trainers,” he says. “Social media has significantly impacted how fitness professionals market their services, a strategy that wasn’t as prevalent five or even 10 years ago. Additionally, the pandemic sparked a demand for virtual or online training sessions, whether live or on-demand. This format has allowed clients to appreciate the convenience and flexibility of working out from home or their backyard, moving toward their wellness goals without the need to travel.”

In essence, personal trainers have more avenues than ever to reach and serve their clientele. Previously, the trajectory was quite linear, with the primary option being employment at a gym. However, the rise of digital training has allowed many to flourish outside traditional settings, indicating a significant shift towards growth and diversification.

When it comes to the favored career path for a trainer, ISSA observes a split between those wanting to work at a gym and those aspiring to start their own business.

“The optimal path depends largely on two factors: the individual’s skill set and their understanding of the personal training world,” August notes. He advocates for “gym work” for those new to the field, emphasizing the value of mentorship and real-world experience in discovering one’s niche and ideal client. For the experienced, entrepreneurship offers creative freedom and the ability to truly personalize their service offerings.

A Proactive Approach to Recruitment

To directly address the need for skilled trainers, ISSA introduced a recruitment solutions program that goes beyond traditional job postings by connecting ISSA’s students with gym owners and operators in need of talent. 

“We’re taking a proactive approach, not just posting a job and waiting,” August emphasizes. 

With over 4,000 students enrolling in their Career Pathways program monthly, ISSA is in a unique position to facilitate these connections, ensuring a steady stream of qualified candidates.

This approach is about more than just filling vacancies; it’s about creating meaningful partnerships between gyms and potential employees. ISSA’s system starts with a candidate availability analysis to ensure a good fit between the candidates and the hiring gyms.

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“We’re not in the business of selling people things that don’t work,” August says. “We want to make sure, without a doubt, that we have candidates available in your area.”

This targeted strategy ensures that gyms have access to a curated list of candidates, addressing the common issue of having many applicants but few who are qualified. Raphael Konforti, senior director of fitness with YouFit Gyms has had good results with the initiative.

credit: ISSA

Working with ISSA to recruit trainers and fitness leaders has been invaluable to growing our personal training business,” says Konforti. “We’ve hired many qualified and passionate fitness professionals across multiple states where traditional recruiting sources were not yielding results.”

Advice for Hiring Managers

What can hiring managers do to best position themselves in a saturated job market? August says to focus on three key components: knowing your value proposition, committing to the hiring process and being memorable.

“If I represent a gym, I’ll first showcase all the great things we do, then emphasize how I, Johnny, will be an exceptional leader and mentor,” August says. “The unique value I bring is irreplaceable—there’s only one Johnny who can offer you this mentorship. Unfortunately, many hiring managers overlook the significance of aligning with company values and truly conveying what it means to work in their culture, beyond just a mission statement.”

When committing to the hiring process, August points out that it’s easy to adopt a “compliance mindset,” simply ticking off boxes and reaching out to candidates. However, that’s not enough. He urges hiring managers to ensure every candidate interaction leaves them with a positive impression of the brand. This engagement can be a deciding factor for a candidate.

It’s also important to be memorable. After having interviewed hundreds of trainers in his career, August says the most impactful interviews were those where candidates left with lasting memories of the experience. Therefore, he suggests creating a welcoming atmosphere, introducing candidates to team members, and showcasing the gym.

 “This can significantly influence the decision-making process,” August says.

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