How to Hire and Onboard a Freelance Team | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

How to Hire and Onboard a Freelance Team

Rebekah Miller is a contributing writer for She is also a fitness director who manages personal trainers, fitness programming, and facility design and maintenance. With over ten years of personal training experience and a Master of Science in kinesiology and exercise science, Rebekah is well-versed in all things fitness.   Additional Resources: Advertiser Disclosure ...

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UPDATED: Mar 27, 2022

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  • Gym managers and personal trainers have a significant impact on client retention and overall profitability.
  • Freelance team members should be selected based on their skill sets, value, and ability to carry out the culture you’ve created.
  • It can be challenging to hire the right freelancer for your business, but don’t rush the process.
  • Make sure to onboard your new hires so that they assimilate into your company seamlessly.

You’ve opened up a gym or fitness center and now it’s time to build your team to help support your business.

While it seems like it would be pretty easy to gather a freelance team, it ends up being one of the most challenging parts of gym ownership. Gym managers and personal trainers have a significant impact on client retention and overall profitability at your fitness center. Personal trainers are on the front lines when it comes to building relationships with members and encouraging them to continue striving toward their fitness goals.

In addition to their impact directly with clients, you want to ensure that each member of your freelance team is selected based on their skill set, values, and ability to carry out the culture you’ve created.

As you build your team of freelancers, you can help to manage their staff roles, payroll, and other administrative tasks so you can get back to providing quality customer service and tough workouts. Book a demo to try our All-in-One Business Software today!

Five Steps of Hiring and Onboarding a Freelance Team

We have broken down the process of hiring and onboarding a freelance team into five distinct steps.

Below, we will highlight each step and explain how to ensure that the team you bring together is committed to excellence on your behalf.

Step 1: Posting the Job

With today’s competitive market for talent, writing an effective job posting is your first key to attracting qualified candidates and creating a positive impact on your overall recruitment efforts.

According to, when the right job seeker clicks on your job posting to learn more about the opportunity, you’re one step closer to converting them into an applicant. But if your job posting doesn’t provide them with the right information, or if it doesn’t compel them to apply, they will, unfortunately, hit the “Back” button instead of applying. With that in mind, your job postings must give your target candidates the information they want and need.

Building an effective job posting

An effective job description typically contains two components: an overview of the position and job responsibilities.

You should only highlight the most significant information in these sections. The position overview is typically written in paragraph-form and gives job seekers a general idea of what they’ll be doing day-to-day. Highlight the five most essential job responsibilities. It’s best to use bullet points when listing job duties so that those job seekers can quickly scan them to see if they are up to the tasks required.

An effective job posting will have enough information to appear attractive and thorough but will avoid highlighting tasks that are not essential functions of the job.

Once the position and job responsibilities have been read, it’s important for the job seeker to see if they qualify to apply. Begin by listing the “required skills” for the job. These are skills, educational achievements, and experiences that are absolutely necessary to perform the job.

Finish the list with your “preferred skills.” These are attributes that may not be mandatory but are definitely desired in the ideal candidate. Preferred skills might include additional education or experience, a background in a specific industry, or familiarity with using a certain program.

Discussing company culture

In addition to education and experience, company culture is extremely important when it comes to selecting the appropriate candidate for your open position. Use this section to highlight your company’s mission, vision, and values so that the candidates can gain insight into what your company is all about. You should also include key attributes of your company culture and workplace to paint a picture of what it’s like to work for you. Finally, list any personality traits that are common among your most successful team members.

Use your own authentic, distinctive characteristics to appeal to applicants. Whether you have open and inviting collaborative spaces, a lively lunchroom, or a quiet, peaceful office, let candidates experience you and your company, and see who responds to your culture. The people who respond positively and enthusiastically are likely the ones who will fit your company best.

Where to post job openings

Post your openings on industry job boards, forums, and message boards to find qualified candidates. As a gym owner, leverage your industry connections and network to see if any of your peers know of a candidate. Additionally, it never hurts to turn your eyes inward – perhaps a trainer on your staff wants to pick up additional hours. As far as job search engines, there are many different sites where job postings can be placed. Some require payment from job posters, while others are 100% free. The top five free places to post your job posting are:

FitSmallBusiness has over 30 additional sites that you can choose from to post your job opening as well.

Step 2: Interview Process

You’ve posted your job descriptions and narrowed down the stack of resumes and applications to the most qualified and promising candidates. Now it’s time for the interview process to begin. There are many ways to conduct interviews.

Pre-Screening Interview

A pre-screening interview is a series of questions that lets you learn more about a candidate before you conduct a more extensive interview. The pre-screening questions ask the candidate more information about their career goals, job preferences, abilities, knowledge, and more. In order to carry this out, you can shift through your first set of applications and resumes and then send out a generic email template with these fillable questions inside. This is especially helpful if you gathered a large number of applications.

Phone Interview

Before committing to setting up a face-to-face interview, you may want to start with a phone interview. This is very similar to a pre-screen interview but through oral communication versus written communication. Usually, you would choose either the written or oral pre-screen and not both. As mentioned under the pre-screening interview, use the phone interview to ask the candidate more information about their career goals, job preferences, abilities, knowledge, and more.

Face to Face Interview / Sample Class Session

The gym industry is notoriously laid back and filled with fitness-types who would rather be out on the gym floor than in an office, but this doesn’t mean that gym owners/managers can skimp on the interview process. It’s all about finding the right fit for your members and your other employees. Try running a few ‘round robin’ interviews with different people to get a good gauge of character.

Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most gym owners look for employees who are:

  • Athletic
  • Energetic
  • Encouraging
  • Good leaders
  • Reliable

Here are some sample interview questions that will help you learn more about the character of your interviewees:

  • What are your main skill areas as an athlete/trainer?
  • What training methods have you used in the past? Which has been most successful?
  • What do you believe the philosophy of a gym should be?
  • How would you deal with an unmotivated client or someone who wanted to quit their membership?

Additionally, if this person will be running workout sessions, have them do a sample workout or a personal session so that you can see their talents up close and personal. This will give you the opportunity to see how they motivate and encourage during a workout session.

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Step 3: Hiring

Once you’ve completed the interview process and have made a decision, offer the job to your desired candidate. Only after that candidate has accepted the job do you follow up with the others you’ve interviewed to let them know you’ve hired another candidate. It is common courtesy to inform all the candidates you brought in for an interview that the position has been filled.

It can be challenging to hire full-time employees. But by hiring freelancers, your business escapes the commitment that comes with salaried workers. You can choose a professional to work on a particular project in your gym or for a period of time leading a scheduled class.

One of the most important steps during the hiring process is to make certain that your new hire understands that this role is one of an independent contractor. Freelancers are independent contractors who should receive a Tax Form 1099 from the company using their services and are subject to paying their own taxes, including self-employment tax.

Step 4: Onboarding

According to iCIMS, onboarding is the initial process of assimilating new employees/new independent contractors into an organization. In addition to equipping new hires with the tools necessary to succeed in their new position, a successful onboarding program provides new hires with the resources to become fully engaged and culturally aware members of a productive workforce.

Some of the tasks that can be completed during this onboarding process are:

  • Preparations before the starting day
    • Forms signed
    • Uniform/outfit preferred
    • Scheduling
    • Exchange of keys
  • Introduction to tools used
    • Software programming explained
    • Where cleaning equipment can be found, if needed
    • How to use iPad/speakers/music
    • Air Conditioning/fans usage and policies
  • The orientation of the office/gym
    • How to open and lock up the gym
    • Front desk operations
    • Gym space overview
  • Introducing to gym members
    • Taking the new hire’s first few classes helps to ease their spirits
    • Introducing the new hire to your regular members helps both the new hire and the members
  • Meeting the team
    • Meeting other trainers
    • Exchanging numbers in the case that someone needs a substitute
  • Evaluating your employee’s onboarding experience afterward
    • Making certain you covered all the necessary items

Step 5: Committing to Excellence

You’ve hired on a new member to your team, they have undergone their onboarding processes, and have been a vital component to your fitness/gym business for a few weeks; now, it’s time to ensure that the commitment to excellence continues. Freelancers, by nature, love the flexibility of their schedules, however, they tend to get bored with repetition. Therefore, in order to keep them active and committed to excellence, we’ve listed a few strategy pointers that your fitness gym/business can do to help retain your hired freelancers for years down the road:

  • Recognize their value by paying them accordingly
    • Make sure that you are paying a fair wage
    • As your business grows, look into increasing those wages
  • Deliver their payment in a timely manner
    • Use a structured schedule so your freelancers know when to expect their pay
    • This eliminates the stress of them not knowing when their next paycheck will be
  • Provide a consistent flow of interesting work
    • A bored freelancer will start to seek other work, therefore, try to keep them busy with tasks that will help the business
    • Check-in with them from time to time to ensure that their schedule suits them well
  • Gradually increase roles and responsibilities
    •  Help to retain freelancers by giving them a  larger role in your company as you build it out or as you develop a professional relationship with them. Nothing reassures them that there is enough opportunity to stay like new challenges with additional responsibilities
  • Communicate clearly
    • Since many freelancers will be teaching classes and/or doing other roles in the gym when you’re likely not there, it’s important to keep a communication method open to discuss how things are going
    • Don’t fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” slump
  • Always say ‘Thank You’
    • The last strategy is actually the simplest.  Just showing appreciation and regularly saying thanks makes a huge difference. Freelancers are trying to make a living but also want to be valued for what they do.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can freelance employees work full-time hours?

Yes, however, if you require full-time hours, you should compensate your freelancers accordingly with a higher hourly wage to account for self-employment taxes, health insurance, and retirement savings.

Can freelance employees receive benefits?

Absolutely! If you have the means to offer your freelance employees health insurance or a 401k, your freelancers will greatly appreciate it.

Can I have my freelance employees sign a non-compete?

You can; however, it is not wise to do so unless your employee has a specific program that he or she offers at your gym that you do not want to be taught at another gym.

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