John Maxwell said, "Leaders must be close enough to relate to others but far enough ahead to motivate them." This statement is true when trying to extract the best out of your fitness staff and bring their best performance to the forefront. This may sound easy; however, it can prove to be very difficult. Motivating and developing your staff can be as hard as trying to lick your elbow or attempting a perfect clean and press. Motivation and leadership are hard work, especially in an industry with more egos than dumbbells.

I have been blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) to manage and lead a lot of people. As a part of Urban Active for almost six years, I have managed and led over 400 personal trainers in five states. Although rewarding, it has not been easy. In order to be a successful leader in fitness, you must first define the difference between success and excellence. Success is singular, only affecting one person, and, as we all know, one person cannot make a team. On the flipside, excellence is team-oriented, cohesive and  all-encompassing.

Excellence is defined as a group of individuals gathered together to achieve a common goal. In that unity and like-mindedness comes great performance. It can be accomplished by concentrating on the four components
Of developing a great staff: on-boarding, development, leadership and vision.

Great performances are not "in the moment" achievements; they are processes that begin the very first day. What an employee learns in the first few weeks of employment will shape their performance
in the future. All-Stars are not born, they are made. Building the greatest fitness staff of all time starts in the beginning.

Take a step back and think about what you want from your fitness team. Do you want to have the best client results? Sell the most personal training? Both? Either way, you must on-board every employee the same way and lay out the expectations to them. If you have eight personal trainers on your
staff , all eight must know the business model inside and out. Every trainer must be taught the same ideology and have the ability to service every member in your club. This is a formula for developing a great staff .

You must also make sure every new employee is being welcomed by the existing staff. The mixture of old and new is integral in order to have excellence.

Staff must be developed to the highest ability of the organization. Education is crucial when developing a fitness staff. Continuing education is paramount. Certification and degrees cannot keep up with the ever-changing world of exercise. For example, the debate will continue about the effectiveness of the BOSU ball. Your trainers must know pros and cons of using that piece of equipment and for which clients it best suited.

Offering in-house education programs, certifications and CEUs is the best ways to help continue the education of your team as well as bringing the best performance out of them as possible.

Also, consider developing skills in all three sides of your business -- service, science and sales. Bring in programs that offer sales tips and customer service techniques, or at least make these topics of conversation in every staff meeting. Don't limit ongoing education to the science of fitness training only. After all, a great trainer needs to be able to sell sessions and treat the clients like royalty once he's got them.

Any successful coach at any level will tell you leadership is what makes or breaks a team. Leadership is simply about influence. Great performances rise and fall on leadership. To influence and lead your team,
identify the four things in life everyone needs to be their best:

1. Something to do: the job and position they hold
2. Something to believe in: the company and its mission
3. Something to be passionate about: the transformation in lives that fitness offers
4. Something to love: their job, their boss, their lives in fitness

These are the components of excellence. They are also the motivators that will pull the most out of your fitness staff . But only if everyone on the team possesses the same four qualities. Find, provide and instill these four qualities, and your staff will perform at the highest level. Any sales goal, membership quota or weight loss contest will be effortless with a team that is unified around these four components. You are the leader and it is your duty to get the best out of every employee you hire, train and develop.

Peter Marshall once said, "Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything." This holds true when developing and leading a team to great performances. The team needs a goal and needs a leader that can cast a vision for them so that they know where they are going. As a leader in fitness, you have all the creativity in the world. The industry is a blank canvas just waiting for you to paint on. You must decide what your vision is for your department and company. That vision must be precise as well as pertinent to the overall department goal.

Remember, great performances do not happen overnight; casting a vision for your team is the last step in ensuring you get the best out of your fitness staff .

Pulling the most out of your fitness staff is not an overnight adventure. It is a ride that is built on four very specific steps. Each step draws the team closer and sets them up for excellence. Remember, success is singular, but excellence is about the team. These principles will make you and your staff superior and you will have a lot of fun doing it.

Tips for the developing vision for your trainers

Make a mission statement.
Decide what you want your team's mission to be, whether it's to excel as a training outfit, change the most lives or sell the most personal training. Make sure to post it for everyone to see and refer back to it as your team grows in size and experience.

Make sure everyone on your team has clear expectations. For example, client evaluations need to be done every four to six weeks on every client.

Hold weekly team meetings. Bringing everyone together creates team cohesiveness and allows the message to get to the masses.

Be consistent. Attitude is a reflection of leadership, and leaders need to be consistent. Your staff will appreciate you more if they always know what to expect.
Josh Bowen, BA, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D is the Quality Control Director of Personal Training for Urban Active. He manages over 400 personal trainers in six states. To learn more about Urban Active, please visit