In 2004, I was 2 years in to my career as a Personal Trainer and I had accepted almost every request for any appointment time from every person wishing train with me. So concerned was I about the need to make hay while the sun shined, I lost all site of time management, quality of life and anybody in my life who wasn’t a client. Hardly surprising given that I had found a role that involved being paid to do something I absolutely loved and paid well, although such behaviour is not to be encouraged.
By this 2-year point, one of my very first clients was still working with me every Saturday at 4pm. As it was, my Saturday consisted of 2 morning clients, and then I’d have to return at 4pm for this final client, or at least that’s what my inexperience told me I had to do. Summoning the motivation for this client had become a challenge in itself as the delivery of my studies, had exceeded my rate of learning new and relevant content for her sessions.
Having to plan my Saturday around this session for over 2 years I finally felt sufficient frustration to ask if the session time and day could change for her. Without a second thought she casually and happily replied with ‘yes, of course’. I felt relief. ‘What day do you want to do, I’m free every week night’? I now felt frustrated. For 2 years I had lived my life by the erroneous assumption of what other people had told me; that as a PT, I would have to work whenever my clients wanted to train. This was not so. It was a painful but valuable lesson.
This led me to restructuring my entire diary, and being a regular 130-145 hours of PT per month I wanted to find the balance between maintaining the volume but also getting time outside of the gym. It was around the time that I had actually booked on a seminar for a week that I found the solution.
I would take a large selection of my clients, and look to increase their weekly sessions from 1 to 2, but at the same time I would then put a gap of 2 weeks in the diary for them to not train with me.
Two very interesting things happened:
- First, the clients started to pick up complicated movements better, due to the reiteration of the 2nd session in each week. As opposed to 7 days lapsing, and me having to re-teach the movements. In addition, the body’s natural overcompensation system was being worked harder and they were therefore getting more compositional change than of previous.
- But something else also happened. A small handful actually found they missed me and the training in the 2 weeks they weren’t with me, so they committed to fitting an additional week’s worth of training with me, resulting in 6 sessions per month in total as opposed to the previous model of 4.
The point I’m making is that for PT’s out there in a rut with clients working with them once or even twice per week, it could be better for the client and the wellbeing of the PT if the total month’s allocation of sessions were used in a more compacted time frame. Liken it to somebody buying 12 sessions with you, but then only using them once per month for 12 months.
To ensure you make a long term career out of Personal Training, you’re also going to have to consider that you will come up against something called ‘Trainer Burnout’. At first, everything seems incredible; you’re training people, getting results, preaching to them, and in some cases getting on your soap box about various matters (we’ve all done it), and you’re getting paid well. But then the staleness starts to kick in; you’ve taught your existing client base all there is to teach, you’re missing your own scheduled workouts, the early mornings and the late nights have taken their toll and your struggling to wake in the morning, meals are not as healthy as they used to be and you’re reconciling it to yourself as a ‘cheat’ meal. At this point, you are at a cross-roads and you have a choice. You can either plough on, struggling to get through or you can leave being a PT and go and do something else. Or you can do what I’ve done at the 5 points in my PT career when I just wasn’t feeling the love any more:
Take a break – using the strategy above, taking time off does not mean losing money. If you pack your clients from Week 3 into Weeks 1, 2, and 4 either by adding time on to these sessions (60 minutes’ x 3 is 20 minutes on to each session), or you drop the session in to a week with 2 sessions, you’ve just freed up Week 3 for a Stay-Cation around the UK or Europe.
Charge more – if the motivation is waning in a session, there’s nothing quite like charging more money to get your own attention again. This is probably your subconscious mind telling you that you are now worth more, so get the limiting beliefs out of the way and make that change. If you’re charging £40/hr then make the session worth £50/hr.
Learn something new – This is probably the most powerful thing you can do. Learn something new, it ensures you keep delivering new and deeper content to your clients, and aids toward client retention as well as the enhanced motivation levels. It’s also the biggest justification for increasing your prices each year too.
There’s many more things you can do, but from experience it was one of the 3 listed above that shifted me from that rut. Even high quality workshops with other Personal Trainers would have me coming back absolutely juiced, and the sense of network and belonging was and should still be very important.
If you want to talk more about your career, and the many directions you can take with it as Fitness Professional, I’d be very happy to hear from you. We are launching more and more content within our current schedule of products. Drop us a line at email@example.com.