Thursday, September 20, 2012

Times, they are a'chaging

I've been working at the same gym since the day that it opened it's doors: going onto 5 years at this point. I started off as a front desk employee and made the shift to (epic) trainer. Over the course of this time I've seen quite a few employee's come and go. Some were friends and some I wouldn't recognize on the street anymore.

This is pretty standard fare for a commercial fitness facility; the turn-over for employees tends to be pretty high. However, we just had our biggest shift since we opened.

It really started in June when Justin and Jen left. Then in July Dan left. Then Chris and Drew in August. Now in September Kristen and Kelsi are leaving. What is so special about these people?

Jen - Level 2 CrossFit coach with several years of coaching under her belt; attending PT School.
Justin - BS in Exercise Science. NSCA CSCS with several years of coaching both athletes and general population; great knowledge of functional anatomy.
Dan A. - BS in Exercise Science. NSCA CSCS, BIOSIG 1, CrossFit Level 1 coach with a ton of experience as a power lifter, high level athlete and aspiring strongman. His level of attention to nutrition is ridiculous.
Dan M. - BS in Physical Education and Exercise Science. NSCA CSCS. Worked with the Chicago Cubs organization for a bit.
Chris - NSCA CSCS and a DPT. One of the few marathoners (he's run 4) who understands the importance of strength training.
Drew - BS in Exercise Science, DPT. Great functional anatomy and capable of working with rehab or healthy populations.
Kristen - Our full-time front desk employee. Spent years as a therapist and is pursuing her (second) masters in (probably) Nutrition. Understands how food quality can make a huge impact on your daily life.
Kelsi - Our babysitter. A former D1 distance runner, she still competes in races. She has also recently found a love for weight training (squatted 155x5 after 8 weeks of training) and just got certified as a personal trainer.

What's so special about this group? Absolutely everything. For about a year almost all of our trainers had an educational background in Exercise Science. Even the ones that didn't were moving forward in their education with related fields. Everybody lived and loved "The Life". We often trained together, and pushed each other to get better. Our love for lifting heavy and eating cleanly created an environment in the workplace so viral that all of the other employees caught on with it too. Even our babysitter was a savage!

The culture at the gym was one built around the desire to improve and the need to keep learning. We constantly talked shopped: Did you read this yet? What do you think about this technique? I'm having trouble getting so-and-so to do this, any ideas? We all learned from each other and supported each other because we understood each other; we all lived the same lives. Nobody thought it was weird that someone was eating 12 oz of beef for breakfast. We had to make room in the fridge for everyones hard boiled eggs. Bagels were something to be shunned. We shared a disdain for soy and gluten and a common love for bacon and avocados.

Now, it's different. Our staff is all turned over and there is only a few of us from The Golden Age. The new staff is good, but the vibe just isn't the same. Having a collection of trainers with those backgrounds and abilities in a commercial gym is a pretty rare thing.

It was a special group. I miss you guys.

1 comment:

  1. Culture's a huge thing, but it's up to everybody in an organization to change it.

    I work in a franchised, big-name commercial gym. At some point in the past five years (I've been there two), ownership and top management said let's hire rock stars and make this gym amazing.

    We've had a lot of turnover lately, too. But where your gym is losing a lot of strong people, my gym is starting to lose the weak people. At some point we turned the corner from the place people started and then moved on to bigger and better things, to the bigger and better place where people people move to.

    It's because management has begun doing what they can to retain top talent, knowing that their bottom line is going to grow, even if it's more expensive than bringing in lower-paid talent and maximizing profits -- it only gets the club to a certain level.

    Don't give up on your new co-workers. Lead them to awesome.