Health Club Owners and Managers
Education and Training Requirements
High school courses that will give you a general background for work in health club ownership or management include business, health, mathematics, physical education, and computer science. Speech and writing classes will help you hone your communication skills. Managing a school club or other organization will give you an introduction to overseeing budgets and the work of others.
A bachelor's degree is generally required to own or manage a health club. Many owners and managers first work in lesser positions within the fitness industry to establish backgrounds in health or exercise science. The competition for jobs and increased complexity of owning and managing a facility (keeping the club in business and profitable) requires a strong background in business and finance. Many owners and managers hold a master's degree in business administration or sports facility management.
Many colleges and universities provide undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in fitness training, business, accounting, and business management that will be useful to aspiring health club owners and managers. Contact schools in your area to learn what type of programs are available.
Other Education or Training
The National Retail Federation offers classes and other continuing education opportunities that may be of interest to health club owners and managers. Topics include customer service, management issues, sales training, and marketing. Contact the federation for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Put simply, health clubs can bring owners a large amount of revenue, and these owners aren't willing to trust the management of such lucrative venues to individuals who are not qualified to run them. Certification is one way a health club owner can ensure that certain industry standards in club management are met. The International Facility Management Association, probably the industry leader in certification, offers the designations of facility management professional and certified facility manager. Some health club owners and managers also teach fitness classes. In this instance, they might want to earn certification credentials in fitness training, which are offered by many professional fitness associations, including the American Council on Exercise and the National Federation of Professional Trainers.
The National Retail Federation Foundation offers the customer service and sales certified specialist designation and other credentials. Visit https://nrffoundation.org/riseup-learner for more information.
A business license may be a requirement in some states. Contact your state's department of revenue for more information on obtaining a license.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Most club owners require that higher-level managers have a minimum of five years of experience in the field or industry. This may include experience in other manager positions or in related fitness careers. Many managers end up in their management positions after first working as one of the club's staff members, such as an aerobics instructor or personal trainer.
In addition to experience, both owners and managers need to be strong communicators to work well with staff and relate well to the club's members. They need to be able to clearly and concisely state their ideas, information, and goals, regardless of their audience.
Health club owners, in particular, need to possess excellent strategic, budgetary, and operational planning skills to keep the club in business and to ensure profits. The owner's decisions affect all operations within the health club, so the owner needs to be capable of making the right choices and have the ability to juggle many different tasks.