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Leadership Development: How To Create Future Fitness Leaders


Designing a leadership development programme for your gym or health club? Here’s how you identify the right talent and give them the skills they need.

Read more: Leadership Development: How To Create Future Fitness Leaders

As the fitness industry continues to grow in size and complexity, it’s more important than ever to have a strong pipeline of talented leaders who can help guide your business to success. Whether you run a small gym or a large health club, investing in leadership development is key to ensuring you have the right people in place to drive your business forward.

Leadership development starts, of course, by identifying individuals who have the potential to become effective leaders within your organisation. Target leadership skills with development programmes and training. Then mentor individuals and nurture them by cultivating the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in future leadership roles. 

Building a talent pipeline will serve your business for years to come. It will also help maintain your competitive edge by always having a pool of well-trained, effective managers. These managers will be on top of improving employee retention and engagement, enhancing customer satisfaction, and driving increased revenue.

But how do you identify future leaders, and what skills should you be looking to develop in them?

Identifying Your Future Leaders

Identifying employees with the potential to become managers is an important part of leadership development in any industry. Let’s review some of the factors to consider when identifying your future leaders.

1. Performance & Results

You’re looking for performance and results, of course: employees who consistently deliver high-quality work meet or exceed performance targets and demonstrate a strong work ethic. Yet this is just one part of the puzzle, as great achievers are not always great leaders; soft skills are as important as technical skills.

2. Personal Interaction

You’ll also want to observe how employees interact with their colleagues and customers. Look for individuals who demonstrate leadership potential by taking the initiative, showing confidence and being willing to take on new challenges. 

3. Adaptability

Look, also, for people who are able to adapt to changing circumstances and be flexible in their approach to work. Future leaders and managers will be open to new ideas, willing to take on new responsibilities and able to work effectively in a dynamic and changing environment.

4. Communication Skills

Effective communication and interpersonal skills are also critical. Look for employees who can communicate clearly and persuasively, listen actively to others, and build strong relationships with colleagues and customers.

5. Problem-Solving Skills

Keep an eye open for employees who demonstrate strong analytical and problem-solving skills, are able to make timely and effective decisions based on data and evidence, and can balance competing priorities.

6. Open To Growth

Last but not least, look for employees who are eager to learn, grow, and develop their skills and knowledge. You need people interested in advancing their careers and taking on new challenges.

These are some of the ways for finding your future leaders among existing employees. Of course, you will also recruit people directly into management positions, but in this case, leadership development becomes less relevant, albeit continual learning should apply to all.

Meanwhile, the value of finding future leaders among your existing workforce is huge, as promoting from within is key to retaining top talent. People need to believe they are valued and have a career pathway with you, not just a job.

Leadership Skills Development

It would be impossible, in the space of this single blog, to sum up all the skills you should nurture through your leadership development programmes. Success in the competitive and fast-paced fitness sector depends on a wide variety of factors, not least innovation, customer satisfaction and financial management. In turn, great fitness industry leaders require a wide range of skills and attributes; a non-exhaustive list would certainly include strong communication skills, a deep understanding of customer needs, a passion for health and fitness, an ability to motivate and inspire others and a strategic mindset.

These may come more naturally to some than others, which may in turn influence the selection process for your talent development programmes. Yet even the most naturally gifted will benefit from a well-thought-through leadership development and mentoring programme; everyone will have areas for improvement, and it’s your job as the employer to identify these.

Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the leadership skills you should be looking to nurture among your would-be future leaders.

1. Communication Skills: Effective communication is one of the most important leadership skills in any industry, and the fitness industry is no exception. Strong communication skills can help leaders build trust, foster collaboration and drive innovation. 

Future leaders must therefore learn to clearly communicate their vision and goals to their teams, as well as to listen and respond to feedback from employees, customers and stakeholders. 

Therefore, the communication modules of any leadership development programme should help employees learn how to express themselves clearly and persuasively, both verbally and in writing. They should also learn active listening skills and techniques for giving and receiving feedback. Training and practice are key here, with on-the-job training playing a major role.

2. Ability To Inspire: Motivating others is another key leadership skill in any industry. Leaders need to inspire their teams to give their best effort, stay engaged, and continuously improve. This requires a deep understanding of what motivates people and an ability to create a positive and supportive work environment. It also requires clear, impactful delegation where teams feel supported and empowered. Workshops and role-playing can help build these skills, but again, practice will make perfect.

Future leaders must also continually refine their ability to build strong relationships both internally and externally; to recognise and reward good performance; and to positively coach and mentor those in need of more direction, purpose and professional growth.

3. In-Depth Customer Insight: Customers are the lifeblood of any fitness business, so meeting their needs – through products, marketing, and throughout the touchpoints of delivery – is critical to success. Leaders must be both in tune with the full breadth of their audience and able to embrace data to further their understanding and insight.

So this isn’t just about listening to customers or even keeping abreast of new trends and consumer attitudes. It’s about learning to use data – something that can certainly be taught as part of a leadership development programme.

4. A Genuine Passion: The fitness industry is one in which simply ticking the boxes won’t work; leaders must have a genuine passion for health and fitness – walking the walk as well as talking the talk, using the product themselves, trying out new concepts as they emerge and genuinely caring about the ‘why’ of improving people’s lives. This passion will serve to inspire others and create a culture of wellness within the organisation. 

Leaders who are passionate about fitness are also more likely to stay up-to-date on industry trends and innovations – not least in the rapidly-changing digital arena – and be invested in the success of their employees and customers.

This is where industry events and conferences come in, as well as reading, absorbing webinars and continually learning from employees, customers and suppliers. Indeed, Wexer actively supports customers in developing their digital strategies, ensuring operators create not just standalone projects but a whole culture – one in which innovation is embraced and future leaders grow through the ranks with an understanding of where technology adds value.

5. Strategic Mindset: Finally, leaders in the fitness industry must have a strategic mindset – an ability to critically, creatively think about the organisation’s goals, challenges and opportunities. They must develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills, all of which can be nurtured through training and mentoring. They must learn to create effective strategies for success in a rapidly evolving landscape.

And of course, that landscape is one in which digital and technological innovations are increasingly shaping the sector. By prioritising ongoing learning and development in areas such as this, future leaders will be abreast of new thinking and ready to embrace change. This will place them ahead of the curve, ready to drive innovation and growth when they take the reins of their organisations.

Measuring Leadership Development Success

Finally, because you’ll want to know you’re investing your time and resources wisely, let’s look at how to measure the effectiveness of your leadership development programme.

#1. Before launching your programme, set out SMART goals and objectives: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

#2. Collect feedback from programme participants on the course content and structure. The goal is to establish the value, relevance and impact of what they’ve learned on their performance and confidence levels. 

#3. Identify relevant KPIs and monitor the performance of your trainees in these areas, starting before the programme and continuing throughout and beyond, to track improvements. 

#4. Monitor employee satisfaction and retention to make sure individuals that participate in your leadership development programme stay with the organisation longer. This is about determining whether the programme is effective in retaining top talent.

#5. Track return on investment (ROI), correlating improvement and performance in the KPIs measured against the cost of running the programme. 

#6. Finally, over time, you’ll be able to track whether the top talent you’ve developed does in fact progress into management roles. 

Whether you’re a senior manager looking to develop the next generation of leaders, or an aspiring leader yourself, we hope this blog has offered some valuable ideas and insights to shape your approach to leadership development. 

Find out how Wexer can help you incorporate digital skills and learning into your leadership development programmes. Email usINFO@WEXER.COM



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