Getting great staff in the door is just half the battle. The other half is keeping them! There’s no question this current generation of young employees has a habit of being very passionate about something for short spurts. Let’s take our 18 year old son for example. He is extremely passionate about certain things…for a few months at a time. Then the excitement fades and it’s just another thing to him…until something shinier and newer comes along. This is totally normal for Gen Z. So, it’s important that we’re very intention in our retention methods. 

We work with gym owners in the Next Gen Academy every day to develop their processes. Not all of mine will work for everyone, but our coaches are fantastic at learning all about your gym and identifying things that might work well for it. If that’s something you’d love to know more about, book a call at

OK, here are a few tips to work through retention issues you may be having at your gym:

1. Train slowly. OK, so just like you I want trainees to get out on the floor coaching as quickly as possible so they’re not just costing me money. At the same time, when we train slowly, a few things are happening. 

  • We’re getting them accustomed to our gym culture. It’s not in our culture to cross your arms when you’re watching a child do a skill. From a distance, it signifies boredom and irritation. Even if that’s totally not the case, it can come across that way. Training should be more than just the skills. We should be training staff on body language and communication as well. For some, that is a new level of education that doesn’t come overnight but needs to be learned over time.
  • We’re developing a culture of lifelong learning. Just because you’re coaching a class by yourself doesn’t mean you’re the expert. It means you’re capable of safely producing a result and building kids’ confidence. Training slowly helps our staff practice learned behaviors and become more adaptable when you make changes in your business.
  • Quite frankly, it weeds out the wrong people. If you made it through the interview process and you’re still an ego-based coach, shadowing a few rec classes will likely weed you out. At the same time, great coaches are humble and willing to learn even if it’s “below their level of expertise.”

2. Provide systemized opportunities for feedback.

  • There are lots of ways to do this. Hold a daily 15-minute stand up meeting to go over what to expect for the day and see if staff has any questions or concerns. Make sure your veterans encourage questions. After all, you’re a team! 
  • Make a form your staff fills out daily or weekly that asks what challenges they faced that week and how you can help. (We once had a coach at our second location write “cricket problem” on his form daily for a few weeks. I should have asked him earlier on…but I honestly thought he was exaggerating. Then I filled in for him one night to realize crickets were literally hopping on the mats when the bay doors were open and it was incredibly distracting for the kids.)
  • Do quarterly or annual evaluations on your staff and have them evaluate themselves as well. Ask them specific questions like, “If you were the owner, what is one thing you would change?” Imagine how validated they might feel if you take an idea and run with it!

3. Stop calling their full-time job a “real job”. Your gym is also a real job. Don’t let staff do this either. Parents pay a LOT of money to get people who take their jobs seriously. You have too much risk in owning a business for a staff member to downplay what you’re doing. You’ll also never allow your staff to see a career path. Maybe you don’t have full-time staff now, but if you grow and profit, why can’t you? Once our staff’s eyes opened to the fact that we can literally create positions for them as long as we’re meeting our goals, our “real staff” began to flourish at this “real job”. 

Retention isn’t rocket science. It’s about showing gratitude and caring for your people financially and emotionally. It absolutely is hard to do that when you’re coaching every night and aren’t available when they need something, so pick the classes or teams that give you the most joy and pull back on some of the others. Allow other coaches to shine and mentor them!