Feature Article - June 2008
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Join the Club

Staffing Issues

While health and fitness clubs covered by the survey employ fewer people than many other types of facilities (with the exception of colleges and universities), they are expecting to see relatively significant growth in the number of people working for them over the next several years. Health and fitness club respondents projected growth in their staffs of 24.6 percent from an average of 109.6 currently to 136.6 in 2011. Smaller increases are anticipated among full-time workers and seasonal employees, with the bulk of the growth expected among part-time staff.

More than four out of five (81.4 percent) fitness and health club respondents indicated that they currently require some sort of certification of their employees, with 84.8 percent of those requiring a CPR, AED or First Aid certification. Nearly 60 percent also indicated that they require a background check, and nearly half required a personal training or fitness certification.

Clubs that do not currently employ educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals should pay close attention to recent research from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which indicated that the number-one fitness trend for 2008 would be the availability of more educated and experienced fitness professionals. ACSM asserted that "more organizations are seeking out accreditation for academic and certification programs for fitness professionals, including personal trainers, which will contribute to industry regulation."

Some of this will likely be driven by other trends listed among the ACSM's top 20, including those falling in the number-two and number-three positions: exercise programs for children to fight childhood and adolescent obesity—a trend that will require professionals who understand the unique needs of this segment of the population; and personal training.

"We were interested to find that the top three predictions for next year were statistically close, but they all support the idea that the health professional is going to be held to a higher level in education and certification," said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., lead author of the article. "Overall, we're seeing these themes develop now that will help the fitness professional design specialty programs for their clients.

It also creates an expectation for the public, who can glean new ideas to improve and build upon their workouts."