How to Provide Effective Feedback to Your Gym Staff

How to Provide Effective Feedback to Your Gym Staff


As a manager or fitness business owner, have you ever found yourself frustrated by unmet expectations and the same problems cropping up time and time again? Despite your best efforts  to clearly communicate your expectations to your team, the problems continue. That ultimately can lead to gym staff turnover, misunderstandings, and an overall lack of productivity. 


But there’s a solution: delivering effective feedback. 


Being able to deliver effective feedback solves problems like these:

  • Repeatedly addressing the same problems with staff
  • Avoiding feedback due to fear of losing a valuable team member or causing hurt feelings
  • High staff turnover due to lack of skilled employees
  • Stepping in to do someone else’s job because it’s easier than telling them how to fix their mistake


By learning how to give effective feedback, you can strengthen the behaviors you want to see more of while eliminating or changing behaviors that you don’t (like that list above).


In this article, you’ll learn how to use the Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) Model for effective feedback and common mistakes to avoid so that you can begin giving feedback with infinitely less stress.

Change Your Beliefs About Feedback


Many fitness business owners and managers don’t deliver timely or effective feedback because they hold a belief that all feedback is bad or negative. We’ve worked with hundreds of fitness business owners to shift their mindset on delivering feedback and they’ve instantly seen the majority of their management and staff issues disappear. 


As a leader and manager, delivering feedback is part of your job. When you avoid delivering feedback, you’re allowing poor performance to perpetuate or good performance to go without reinforcement. And both of those scenarios contribute to misaligned expectations and endless frustration.


The truth is that most people crave feedback. (And if you’ve made a good hire who fits your gym’s culture and have trained them well, they should be ‘most people’)  They want to know how they can improve or what they are doing well so they can be better at their job. And the good news is that as a coach, you’re already really good at delivering feedback — you do it (or have done it) with your clients all the time. Coaching cues, modifications, etc — that’s all feedback! Feedback is simply information someone doesn’t have, that they need, in order to achieve a desired outcome. 


The key with feedback is that it has to be delivered well in order to be received well and cause the intended result. If you want to put an end to unmet expectations and continually addressing issues on repeat, you need to begin using the SBI Model to deliver feedback.

What is The SBI Model?


The SBI Model is exactly what you need to ensure your feedback is clear, specific, actionable, and well-received. The model was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership as a simple structure that could be easily implemented to deliver effective real-time feedback. By using this framework, you can reduce the anxiety you feel as the deliverer of feedback and eliminate defensiveness of the person you’re delivering feedback to. 


Use the three parts of SBI to structure your feedback:

  • Situation – Describe where and when the behavior occurred. Be specific. Include the time, place and event when possible so that the context for feedback is clear.
  • Behavior – Describe what the person did as well as what you saw. Be specific, but don’t use judgements here. Stick to facts and behaviors.
  • Impact – Describe the impact on you, on others, on business results. Describe your thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions to the behavior.


Here’s an example of what a good feedback statement looks like from a manager to a coach: This morning, during the 8am session, I noticed you were on your phone a lot. You offered minimal coaching during the session instead of the high standard of individual attention we give as a part of our service. Your distraction was noticeable to the clients and could have impacted the quality and safety of their workout.


Here’s an example of that same feedback given poorly: You need to coach more in your sessions. 


See the difference in those statements? One is very specific and actionable. The other could result in any number of modifications made by the coach that may or may not achieve the change in behavior you intended. 


Using the SBI model helps make sure your feedback is specific to the situation you are addressing while focusing on the behavior instead of the individual. Specificity and timeliness are important because giving vague or untimely feedback is almost worse than giving no feedback at all.


Common Mistakes to Avoid


There are three common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid when delivering feedback:

  1. Waiting too long to give it. The longer you wait, the more ineffective the feedback becomes. It should be given as close to the occurrence as possible. 
  2. Delivering feedback and then continuing to talk. Don’t undermine your feedback by continuing to ramble after you state the impact. Create space for the person to digest it and respond and then you can guide the discussion to an outcome.
  3. Delivering feedback in an inappropriate place or time. Pick an appropriate time and place to deliver feedback. Choose a place where privacy can be maintained and ensure there’s enough time to have a conversation about the feedback. Although timeliness is key, it doesn’t trump being considerate.
Benefits of Delivering Effective Feedback


As a manager or fitness business owner, it’s frustrating when you encounter the same problems repeatedly. It’s even more frustrating to feel handcuffed by the problems caused by unclear communication. Delivering effective feedback is the missing piece you need to reduce the stress associated with addressing issues, increase productivity and eliminate unmet expectations. 


By incorporating the SBI Model into your feedback, you can help ensure that your team is performing well, which helps you move your fitness business forward and reach your goals.

Fitness Revolution empowers fitness business owners to build and grow profitable businesses they are passionate about. Through expert coaching, backed by their proprietary Fitness Business Alignment System™, FR provides the long-term solution to ending burnout. To learn more about how FR can help you take your fitness business to the next level, visit

Stay Connected!

Subscribe to FitBizWeekly’s FREE newsletter for news, commentary, idea sharing and developments across the Canadian health and fitness industry.

By clicking on the Subscribe button you agree to be on our newsletter list. You can opt out anytime. We respect your privacy. Your information will not be shared and your email address will be stored safely.