What is the best piece of fitness equipment your gym owns?

Okay, its a trick question. The answer doesn’t lie on your gym’s floor, it’s actually in the shoes that walk across it – your staff and their education.

So this month’s post is best framed by the conversations I had whilst moving from booth to booth at this year’s edition of the Australian Fitness & Health Expo. I really felt a growing support for gym owners by manufactures this year. Discussions collectively began with: education, coaching, master trainers, fitness programming, motivation, engagement and overall customer experience – and I loved it!

Precor Master trainer

Now, I’m not trying to say that training/education hasn’t existed up until now  – I’m not that naive nor disrespectful to the manufactures. It’s always been there in isolation, especially from niche product creators such as TRX, AOK and Spinning. It just feels more unified in 2016.

Fitness Professionals In the Education Drivers Seat

With an industry built upon fitness professionals who offer a wide range of skills from varied educational backgrounds, there is very little down side to further education.

Fitness professionals (in Australia for example) are pretty much in the drivers seat when it comes to education choices. With so many courses available, you tend to end up with a broad skill set across your staff. This can be a great thing, but there is something to be said for group styled education too, where a larger portion of your staff end up on the same page. This is where education offered by OEM’s may be able to help your business.

Enter OEM education.

Now, I don’t have an actual name for it, so lets just go with: Original Equipment Manufacturer Education… that is, education sponsored and/or mostly executed by the same people that build and sell the fitness equipment i.e. Life Fitness, Precor and Technogym.

OEM education is conducive to both online and in-gym face-to-face delivered formats. Run well, they can double as great team building sessions that encourages the conversation amongst trainers in your facility to continue beyond the session.

Which ever side of the education argument you are on, you may be interested to know what some fitness equipment manufactures are doing to expand their own brand of education.

So lets explore the recent education happenings at Precor, Life Fitness and Technogym in the form of ‘factors’ (aka whimsical sub headings I made-up to blanket each point…)

The Permission Factor – Precor

One interview this year had me do a double take – literally (see 2:26 into the interview – below). Erica Tillinghast – Global Education Manager for Precor explained to me the ‘Permission Factor’ when talking about the Queenax Functional Training System. Erica said:


“I think the main thing trainers are looking for is permission. When they look at the training systems they are not entirely sure what to do with these tools. But as we go through our training course and we say YES you can! YES you can do this and YES you can do that, that’s when the light bulb goes off (i.e. the excitement and the creativity).

Because often times trainers will approach some of the new tools that are available with a little intimididity and then once they realise they CAN: push, pull, play, and that’s all acceptable – that’s when you get the buy-in and enthusiasm. 

If we can inspire creativity, and trainers to think critically about the decisions that they make in programming, I think we’re making a successful in-road.”

The Permission Factor may seem silly to some fitness trainers who possess the bravado of a stallion. However to the rest of us, defining our boundaries seems like a good practice to get into especially when programming for functional training rig workouts.

For more on Precor’s educational resources, head to the Precor Coaching Centre, an ever growing online library of resources for everybody who comes in contact with Precor equipment. Whether you are a gym manager,  gym staff member, gym member or equipment repairer, Precor have you covered. The online resources are also backed by a team of hand picked Master Trainers working across the globe.

Check out Precor’s Coaching Centre here.

The Flexibility Factor – Life Fitness

Gavin Aquilina, Master Coach for Life Fitness explained the re-launched of the Life Fitness Academy in Australia aiming to support gym owners via cost efficient training delivered in a flexible online format. Simply this means that staff turnover doesn’t equal skill loss. Educating new staff on the latest equipment and training trends can all be completed in an engaging and timely manner online any time of the day.

Gavin said:

“We’ve traditionally done face-to-face, which has always happened in the industry, and we are going to continue to do face-to-face training – I think it is a really important component, but the problem is turn over in the industry. So what we want to do is we want to be able to provide continued support so if there is turn over they (gym owners) have the resources to train new staff and it doesn’t require us (Life Fitness) coming in”.


The Life Fitness Academy is taking a really practical approach to their education, offering a combination of daily, weekly and monthly content delivered in flexible formats including; written, videos, webinars, face-to-face clinics, Business small group PT, and the option of joining the VIP retention academy hosted by DR Paul Bedford for business owners.

After drafting this post, I followed up with Gavin to inquire about continuing education credits for participants and he said:

“Programs are registered with SkillsActive/REPS, we also have a reciprocal re-accreditation with ACE and NASM”. 

“Some of the new online programs will also have re-accreditation points as well.”

Check out the Australian Life Fitness Academy site here.

The Trust Factor – Technogym

Technogym Announces Strategic Partnership with NSCA

The big news recently came from Technogym and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) who announced a strategic partnership to create educational content for the fitness industry.

This powerhouse collaboration will deliver a series of valuable educational content that will be available to Technogym customers and master trainers, as well as to the industry overall.

Nerio Alessandri, President and Founder of Technogym had this to say:

“Technogym is proud to partner with the NSCA making an impact on strength and conditioning as a practice and a profession. Our goal is to support our customers and drive the industry through invaluable education, content and solutions. Core to this is enabling the Personal Trainer network that is on the frontlines training end-users on equipment. It is crucial trainers are educated and certified to provide professional and optimal training experiences”

NSCA Executive Director Michael Massik said:

“Technogym’s endorsement of NSCA certifications underscores their mission to create the industry’s most educated network of professional trainers. In addition, NSCA members and certificants will greatly benefit from this partnership and we look forward to a bright future of collaboration.”

I think the biggest take away from the Technogym and NSCA collaboration is a sense of reliability and trust that comes from the two joining forces. It will be an interesting space to watch as the relationship takes shape and begins to deliver content.

Check out the press release here: Technogym Announces Strategic Partnership with NSCA

Check out for more info on Technogym’s Wellness Institute

Final thoughts and tips 

As a fitness professional I have always viewed personal training and fitness programming as a fantastic creative process. I have enjoyed the flexibility of choosing my own on-going education path and finding that sweet-spot between my education wants and needs that culminate in satisfied clients achieving goals.

The needs of gym owners are a very different though. Education takes on a whole different meaning with a greater focus on the quality of programme delivery, staff retention, safe practices and customer engagement culminating in a healthy fitness business.

In many ways, a unified approach to education makes sense so trainers within a facility (or franchise) are on the same page and can support each other to make education a more enriching process.

In that tone here are:

5 Quick Steps to Assessing Your gym’s Education Needs:

  1. On a blank piece of paper jot down all the client-facing education you think your gym business needs to thrive. Some examples may include:
  • Basic equipment use (often overlooked as an assumed skill)
  • Group fitness (cycle, circuit, HIIT, boxing, functional training etc)
  • Fitness appraisals
  • Fitness program design
  • Small group training
  • PT
  • Pre-X assessment
  • Gym floor Supervision
  • Customer conversations.

Just dump everything onto the page and don’t worry about IF a course exists or not, you may end up designing your own in-house program.

2. Take that page and stick it somewhere visible. Then walk away for an hour or a day to give yourself some white space to clear your mind. Upon your return, see what education/training pops from the page and circle your top three as priority

3. Grab another piece of paper and compile all your staff’s educational background’s onto one page and see what sticks out as strengths and weaknesses. Align this with what education type would be helpful to your gym’s brand (from step 1).

4. Investigate training options that suit your needs with equipment manufactures that you work with and other’s you may want to work with in the future.

5. Nudge staff towards courses that would best suit your business needs.

How-to Suss out OEM Education in 5 Steps:

  1. Inquire about education options from current equipment suppliers. Their may be some courses they offer you aren’t aware of.
  2. Inquire about education inclusions when considering new equipment. Ask the sales rep to physically show you a list of resources available to you if you choose their equipment.
  3. If there is an additional cost to education, weigh up inclusions vs courses offered by other educational sources.
  4. Repeat training? Investigate how equipment manufacturers support gym owners train staff over time.
  5. Ask your staff what education they are keen on doing based on the fitness equipment you have. This is a very different question to the broader ‘education needs’ of a staff member and you may be surprised by the answer you get.



Til next time


Head Barrista

Fitness Equipment Cafe