This is a post I was advised to write by Hayden Wilson of PT Prophet to help re-connect with why I started HealthyPeople and FITREC. So here we go…
10 years ago, there was no fitness industry specific recruiting service.
Internet job boards existed (inc. SportsPeople, who are still around) but they were just an online version of a newspaper. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. were unheard of. And many employers were still struggling with the concept of email!
I’d been working as a health/fitness manager for many years in public, commercial and corporate health, and across all settings, finding good staff was the perpetual challenge.
All managers would begin with their pile of CVs that were typically useless (out of date, no ability to cut to the leaders without wasting untold time). Tapping into budgets for money to post ads was never easy. And then there was no guarantee the ad would be successful anyway.
As a professional moving between roles, I knew employers would recruit outside of ads, but there was no reliable way to let employers know that I was in the market.
Reflecting my own challenges, I’d see great people leave the industry because finding the right opportunity seemed beyond their reach.
From the beginning, HealthyPeople was designed to provide as much benefit as possible to both professionals and employers.
Everything was based on the idea that if we make it easier for employers to connect with leading professionals, more fitness careers can flourish. And if employers have access to great local candidates, the ability to run a successful fitness business becomes that much easier.
So why did we launch FITREC?
I was always enthusiastic about shining a light on leading industry people but it was never my intention to form an industry body.
Users would be unaware that Promoted professionals on HealthyPeople were originally called ‘HealthyPeople Elite’. As we bedded in our operations, these ‘HPE’ listings were more appropriate for promoting all candidates that met minimum requirements for nominated roles, it was not the space for trying to showcase industry leaders.
Over the years we made many attempts to work with fitness registration groups.
I’ve always been a believer in the need for a central point to assist professionals and employers with developing themselves and/or their business. In our discussions with industry people, it was becoming more an more clear that key issues of finding work and finding staff were not being adequately addressed by either Fitness Australia (FA) or Physical Activity Australia (PAA).
I saw an opportunity here to help each of the existing registering groups provide a more complete service for their members and increase the value of industry registration. We were, after all, the only group that were both advertising jobs and promoting professionals to employers. Unfortunately, FA declined all attempts to talk about this (even as a financial ‘Preferred Supplier’!). I did have a couple of conversations with PAA, but while intentions were positive, decision making and follow through was lacking. (Note: Since starting FITREC, both groups have had significant changes to their management teams).
All the while, feedback from within the industry was that existing providers were increasingly out of date, out of touch and failing to provide discernible value to their clients.
After talking with key industry people, I put together a model for a registration service that would encourage professional development and provide genuine benefit to its members. This new service had to be transparent, inclusive and responsive. And it would finally give me the chance to showcase leading industry people in the way I’d always intended with HealthyPeople Elite.
The result is FITREC.
FITREC is more than a registration alternative, it’s an alternative to registration.
I remember my father suggesting in the early days that fitness wasn’t a ‘real’ job. This is not uncommon. Plenty of the general public do not view fitness as a legitimate career. As FITREC continues to grow, I hope to have an influence the respect that people outside of our industry have for the purpose, drive and achievements shared by many of our industry professionals.
Comments and questions are welcome.