Keeping others in good shape

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2006, 12:00am

California Fitness is hiring personal trainers to expand its operations in a booming industry


FITNESS IS A growing industry in Hong Kong, with people keen to live the healthy lifestyle exemplified by svelte models in magazines.


Gymnasium operators in the city are trying to capitalise on this growth. Hong Kong's biggest gym chain, California Fitness, is one such company trying to keep up with increasing consumer demand for a healthy lifestyle.


The company is expanding its operations and needs staff for various positions. It urgently requires 25 to 30 personal trainers for its new club in Mongkok. In addition, the new centre needs about 20 sales representatives and more than 10 general service staff. Applicants should be aged between 20 and 40.


For candidates who may find Mongkok too far, opportunities are also available at one of California Fitness' six other established clubs in Hong Kong.


Rocky Chow, regional fitness director of the firm, said: 'We used to need 10 trainers in Wan Chai, now we need 30.'


Such is the growth in this industry that the gym chain conducts sessions for 10 to 25 potential trainers every three months. These courses have a duration of 65 hours, including on-the-job coaching.


The firm needs experienced instructors but, at the same time, it does not insist on experience.


'We train our people from scratch,' Mr Chow said.


'Obviously, you don't apply for a job as a fitness trainer if you don't have any exercise or sports background.


'For aspiring trainers, the key is an outgoing personality and communication skills. A service industry is about being friendly, proactive and service-oriented,' he said.


Applicants are guided through the basic foundation of a fitness professional course, followed by personal trainer certification, which qualifies trainers to develop their programmes for customers. Ongoing coaching with regular updates and instruction on the latest techniques is also provided.


However, not all applicants complete the course - the success rate is 60 per cent, up from 30 per cent two years ago.


Although a booming industry is the main reason for the increase in demand for fitness instructors, staff turnover - averaging 40 per cent a year - is also a factor.


According to Mr Chow, some people think that being an instructor is very 'cool' but they soon find out that it is not for them. They have to put in long hours to make money since pay is based on the number of classes given.


'The harder you work, the more you are rewarded,' Mr Chow said.


Monthly earnings start at $12,500 to $15,000. An experienced trainer working eight hours a day for six days a week can expect to make about $40,000 a month.


The job is not about fixed, regular hours of work. Trainers usually start work at about 5pm. Alternatively, they can work part-time.


'The opportunity is there if you want to take it. You can earn as much or as little as you want,' Mr Chow said.


With health awareness at an all-time high and fitness clubs a rage, Mr Chow said personal training was becoming a genuine career.


'People used to consider it a dead-end job, with nowhere to go at the end of your career at aged 40 to 45. But with the industry expanding, there is now potential for those with dedication and determination to become managers,' Mr Chow said.


Every time the chain opened a new club in Asia, the best talent from Hong Kong was sent to manage the facility and coach local instructors, he said.


'Everyone is a lot more health conscious. People realise they need activity to be healthy.'


AT A GLANCE


New club in Mongkok needs 25 to 30 personal trainers, 20 membership marketers and service staff. Six other clubs in Hong Kong are also hiring.Fitness trainers do not need previous experience - just an outgoing personality, communication skills and a sports or exercise background.


Up to 25 potential fitness trainers aged between 20 and 40 are coached every three months.


Applicants take a fitness professional course and get a personal trainer certification.


Careers in this growing industry now extend beyond the age of 45.