Investing in Coach Development Part 2: How to Invest in Your Coaches

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Last week, we talked about the benefits of investing in coach development. Knowledgeable, well-respected coaches make athletes excited to come to class and enthusiastic about referring your gym to their friends.

While investing in training for your coaches can seem quite expensive, it’s worth it in the long run. Here are some great ways to invest in your coaches.

1. Coach Onboarding Program

Build a curriculum based on the completion of a certain number of shadowing sessions and co-teaching hours that all prospective coaches will need to complete before becoming an actual coach. Pay minimum wage during this phase, and structure the time commitment in a way that doesn’t interfere with their day job (or classes for students). By doing this, you’ll make it possible for them to continue to make a living through that avenue until they are hired as a coach.

2. Continued Education

For current coaches, provide a stipend that either subsidizes or covers the entire cost of one certification or continued learning course, annually or, if you can swing it, biannually. This can also be a graduating stipend that increases with tenure to:
1) Show you are dedicated to their development and success and are willing to invest in them proportionately to the time they’ve invested in your gym and community.
2) Build loyalty with your coaches by incentivizing them to stay with your gym over time.

3. Mentorship

Invest your own time and the time of your most experienced/highest caliber coaches to help develop your rookies. Do you have a coach who is an expert on Olympic lifting? Gymnastics? Endurance? Mobility? Schedule three to five hours per month for these coaches to mentor your less experienced coaches on the subjects they know best.

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Mentorships work especially well if you have experienced coaches on salary because it can be written into their job description with no additional pay. It costs very little to compensate your newer coach for his or her development hours, especially while they’re in the middle of their coach onboarding program.

Which Types of Coach Development Investments are Right for You?

You should do a bit of due diligence before you jump on the coach development train.

Assess the Quality of Your Coaches

How do you know how your coaches stack up compared to the competition? The easiest way to find out is to ask your members and past members. Send out a survey to collect responses – people will be stoked to see that you care.

Look to the responses of the survey, your churn rate (% of members leaving per month), the average membership duration in months and number of new members through referrals to know how much you need to invest in coach development. If churn is high, membership duration is low and referrals are low, it’s probably a smart move to start investing more in your coaches.

Financially Viability

If you make the decision to invest in coach development based on this information, you’ll want to figure out how much to invest and which form of investment makes sense based on the specific attributes and numbers of your business. If margins are tight (expenses and revenue balance out), you may want to focus more on mentorship. If there is a little wiggle-room, add a coach development program to the docket. If revenue is much greater than expenses, you may want to start subsidizing continued education opportunities and certifications on an annual basis, and then decide down the line if it’s worth upping the investment in that channel.

In sum, your coaches can be major assets to your bottom line. Help them become successful and you will feel the impacts on the business.


Solid financial management is a necessary tool to help you find extra money to allocation to a coach development program. Get your copy of our free guide, Six Building Blocks to Financial Health for Your Affiliate Gym.

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Cody Sunkel, Manager of Outbound Sales

Zen Planner

Outside of his sales role at Zen Planner and his own training in bouldering, gymnastics strength, weightlifting and mobility development, Cody teaches on Carl Paoli’s Freestyle Connection seminar team. He was also the personal gymnastics coach for a handful of CrossFit® Games athletes for the 2013 and 2014 Games, and helped Diablo CrossFit bring three teams to regionals. In the future, Cody looks to push the movement culture to the mainstream.

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