The profession of a fitness club administrator has always been and remains relevant throughout the long history of the industry. As I said in previous articles, the administrator is the person from which begins the acquaintance with the club and with whom it ends. This is the first person whom a potential client sees when he enters the reception and it is his qualifications that will largely depend on whether this client becomes active or leaves his money somewhere else. This is the third article in a series about the activities of a fitness club administrator, in which I’ll describe some of the intricacies of this profession.
The profession of a fitness club administrator
This material is a logical continuation of the previous two parts “Who is an administrator of the fitness club” and “Job description of an administrator“. For a deeper understanding of the topic, I recommend you familiarize yourself with them. Now let’s get started. It is believed that the easiest point of entry into the fitness industry is precisely the position of the administrator of the reception of a sports club. Why is that? By and large, if you don’t take into account those employees of the club who have nothing to do with the training process or its organization (technical staff, masseurs, bathhouse attendants), then in the end we get two categories of personnel – the coaching staff and the administrative staff. With that being said, you remember that we are only considering the starting points of entry into the profession.
Now let’s compare them. What are the requirements for a fitness club instructor or personal trainer? He not only has to, but is obliged to know anatomy, physiology, nutritional science, possess the skills of working with disorders of the musculoskeletal system, understand power or other sports equipment, have at least minimal work experience in this position, and so on. So, even at the initial stage of entering the position of a fitness trainer, the requirements for him are already quite high. In turn, as a rule, there are no mandatory requirements for the position of a fitness club administrator, there are only recommended or desirable ones. “Mandatory” requirements for the knowledge and skills of a person entering the post of administrator are actually nominal – it is better to possess those skills, but if you don’t, then it’s okay. The job of a fitness club administrator, as I said in previous articles, is to apply and improve communication skills, that is, first of all, in communication (with clients, with employees, with management). If you speak competently, are friendly, know how to smile and present information over the phone, consider that you already have every chance of getting a job as a fitness club administrator. The rest you will learn (or be taught) after being hired.
The career of a fitness club administrator
So, before you make the final decision on whether to find a job as an administrator or not, it will be equally important to understand the potential career opportunities. First of all, you need to understand what will be your starting point in this profession. And the starting point will be the simplest and most elementary work at the entrance to the club, at the reception desk with a telephone and a computer. This position is called the administrator of the central reception of the fitness club, or simply the administrator of the fitness club. The next step will be the position of a senior administrator, then a manager of a fitness club, and then, quite often, there is a position of a director of a fitness club.
There is an opinion that, unlike the profession of a personal trainer, there is no horizontal development in the professional development of an administrator. The point is that there is so-called vertical growth, when an employee rises in position, and horizontal growth when he improves his skills in the chosen field of activity. In fact, development both vertically and horizontally takes place in almost any profession, since learning, education, and improvement are the basis of the professional development of any person, no matter what position he occupies. However, let me give a better explanation of this statement in our particular case.
Vertical career development means growth to leadership positions. Having chosen this path of development, the administrator after the initial position is expected to be appointed as a senior administrator, who already manages the work of junior administrators. Then, depending on the organizational structure, there may be a position of a manager of a fitness club, which already includes the management of its departments (gym, group classes, aqua zone, martial arts). After the manager comes the position of the director of the club, who is already responsible for all organizational and administrative-legal aspects of the activities of the sports institution. In some cases, the position of a regional manager (of all clubs in one region) may go even higher, then the position of a network or chain manager (of all clubs in the country), and in very rare cases – the position of a partner, a person who, along with the owner of the business, invests money in its development and is not directly involved in the operational activities of the network or chain.
Horizontal career development means a path to continuous learning and improvement without the goal of taking a higher position. In fact, while remaining in the same position, a person professionally can grow to a teacher of special courses (when he teaches newcomers to this profession), above which in the hierarchy is the position of a lecturer for industry events (events for experienced administrators). The highest step in professional development is considered to be the title of lecturer at international industry events. This is the habitat of the elite – people who in their industry and in their craft have reached such a high level that their knowledge is in demand even abroad. As a rule, horizontal career development may not depend at all on the internal hierarchy of a fitness club, which means that each such specialist at different stages of his career often leaves the job for freelancing or entrepreneurship and is not tied to a specific work schedule at any specific club.
Field of competence of a fitness club administrator
Whatever it be, a fitness club administrator is as serious a profession as many others. You can come here with a minimum set of knowledge, skills, and qualities, but this doesn’t mean at all that they should or will always remain so. The one who devotes the most time to self-development and self-education progresses as quickly as possible in his career. By improving your qualifications, you thereby increase your value as a specialist in the labor market. One way or another, whichever path of development you choose, in any case, at least two positions are required – this is the reception administrator (junior) and the senior administrator. Let’s talk about them.
The junior fitness club administrator. The initial position of entering the industry. An employee of the club, whose level of training, initiative, and responsibility is rather low. At this stage, the duties of the administrator are reduced to greeting guests of the club, issuing keys, holding presentations, selling subscriptions, filling out the simplest reports, and working with phone calls. The junior administrator often has only a basic set of concepts and definitions regarding the services that the club provides, which, in general, is already enough to convey to the current and potential customers all the necessary information in a form accessible to them.
The senior fitness club administrator. Experience, knowledge, and skills at this level are already much deeper, and the level of responsibility is higher. The senior administrator already has experience in resolving conflict situations, clearly knows his rights and responsibilities, strictly adheres to the rules of etiquette and business communication, knows the techniques of persuasion, negotiation, sales, often understands aspects of psychological interaction with clients, and also monitors the work of junior administrators. The senior administrator knows everyone by the club employee by name, surname, and position held. He participates in the development of algorithms and scripts for the work of administrators, schedules work shifts, directs them to training courses and not only.
The profession of a fitness club administrator is very interesting and multifaceted. Even if at first glance it may seem to you that this person is exclusively tied to the reception desk, in fact, this is far from always the case. In the case when the flow of clients in the club is large enough, the administrator practically doesn’t sit or stand still, he communicates with some clients, sells memberships to others, gives out the keys to the locker room to the third ones, and conducts presentations around the club to the fourth ones. Such a situation is especially characteristic in the evening hours when the working day ends and people go to get in shape en masse.
At the same time, during “quiet” hours, when there are practically no clients, this great time can be devoted to reading some kind of educational literature, listening to audiobooks, or even watching video tutorials or lectures on the Internet. In any case, if this profession is interesting to you, and you strive to grow and develop in it, you will have practically no free time to stick around and aimlessly surf social media in addition to the main duties. If you are interested in a profession, you develop in it, if not, you leave it. But in any case, everyone who wants to try their hand at this craft should definitely do it.
Felix Palmer – author of the blog crusfit.com