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Beginner’s Guide to Hiring the Best Staff for Your Martial Arts Gym

November 15, 2019

You run a successful martial arts gym, but you’re routinely busy and feel like you can’t ever get ahead. You want to grow your business, but you’re overwhelmed with what is already on your plate. With proper delegation and the ‘passing of the baton’, you truly can grow your business when you hire the right people. 

It can be challenging to find new people that fit in with your gym culture and the way you instruct martial arts. At Kicksite, we know it is a common concern for our business owners, so we decided to put together a few best practices and tips to help you find and make the best hires for your martial arts gym.

Identify Where You Need Help

When you make the decision that you’re ready to hire, it’s best to first identify where you need help. Do you need more instructors out on the mats, or are you spending too much time trying to manage the front desk, phones, and scheduling new appointments? Answering those questions will help determine if you need more instructors or if its better to consider finding friendly, front office faces to help. Take a look at your class capacity and operations now. You can decide which type of help you need and prioritize your recruiting efforts accordingly.

  • Do you need help instructing students?
  • Do you need help answering phones?
  • Do you need help scheduling tours?


Traits to Look For

Before you begin your candidate search, reflect on what types of skills and experience will be needed to be successful in either of your roles. While many aspects of a new job can be taught, there are some natural traits and soft skills you should target for the best fit team members.


It’s imperative to find candidates who can not only commit to being dependable but also have a past record of demonstrating such behavior.


You’ll want to identify instructors and front desk applicants you can trust. You don’t want to give your gym keys or client cash to just anyone.


Martial arts, regardless of your specific discipline, is based on a foundation of respect. It will be important to find new employees who are respectful in nature and display certain integrity. Those who understand the groundwork for your teachings, whether it be Jiu-Jitsu or Taekwondo, will make ideal teammates that support your culture.


Obviously, you’ll want to have a gym full of pleasant personalities. Front desk staff will need to be customer-service driven and offer friendly greetings to anyone new coming in. Anyone answering your phone or working with new clients will need to be able to answer questions in a positive manner. If your students are primarily children, you may consider finding applicants who enjoy working with kids.

Sales & Growth Minded

You don’t want a gym full of salespeople, but you do need your team to be able to identify areas for growth and new clients. Any candidates with past experience in retail, upselling techniques, or business operations will be an asset to your martial arts program. You might even develop a commission-based bonus structure to incentivize those employees for bringing on new students.


Where to Find the Best Candidates

Now that you have an itinerary of what traits you’re looking for in both roles, you may wonder where to go to find these types of people for consideration. You don’t have to spend money to advertise your openings. You certainly don’t have time to be interviewing the wrong people either. Here are a few places to help you target your search efforts.

General Public

  • Be on the lookout for people you’re naturally drawn to. 

You’re in the martial arts business, but also the people business. Your success is built on relationships with others. In your everyday life activities outside the gym, you may find yourself running into great people in various areas. Maybe there’s a super friendly check-out clerk at the grocery store, for example. Or, you might run into someone at a social event who used to instruct in your discipline or took Taekwondo classes for years. Always be on the lookout for great personalities and top talent. Don’t limit your search to small circles or just job boards.

Tournament Networking

  • Spread the word while you’re at tournaments.

You may find yourself routinely attending tournaments with your students. These events are perfect networking arenas for finding talented staff. You have a captured room of people who are already interested, enthusiastic, and potentially trained in precisely the role you’re looking to fill. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and your gym to a new face there. Let others know you’re on the hunt for new team members. You may not make a direct-hire yourself, but you increase your chances of a best-fit referral candidate.

Parental Referrals

  • Offer a trade to parents that work during their child’s class.

Communicate with the parents of your students about your growth and open positions. You might be able to fill in a part-time role at the front desk with one of those parents directly. Or, you might receive a host of referrals to other family members with free time to take on part-time roles. These parents already believe in the coaching and training you provide. Let them network on your behalf and get a few strong candidate referrals in the process. Also, mention to parents that you could do a trade agreement for free lessons if they work during their child’s classes. 

Teenage Class Members & College Students

  • Include teenage students who have been taking lessons for years.
  • Find college students that have flexible evening schedules.

If you’ve been in business for a few years, you probably have a few long-time students who have grown with you. You might consider one of your teenage students as a candidate for operational support upfront, or to help instruct on the mats. They are champions of your discipline and know your model and preferences already. Who better to handle the calls and new client greetings than someone you’ve brought up in the culture yourself? If you don’t have eligible students in your classes, you might also consider communicating with area colleges for potential candidates. College students often have flexible schedules in the evenings and routinely look for part-time opportunities to earn while they learn.


In Summary

Growing your martial arts business means adding to your teams. Be precise about those you bring into your gym. One poor hire can cost you students, time, and money. Find those personalities that best fit into your facility’s culture. Know that you can find some of the most talented recruits in your existing circles. For more tips to augmenting your staff, or planning growth strategies for your martial arts business, contact us!