In this chapter, let’s discuss what you should do when not having a client training session.
You’ve got to make your me-time count.
While much of your time as a personal trainer is spent working with clients, there are periods when you will have some time outside of the gym environment.
And while it’s important to get a little rest and relaxation, these periods are when a personal trainer does all the behind-the-scenes work that helps make the magic happen in the gym space.
So as a new personal trainer, what should you focus on when you are not in the gym?
Well, that’s what we are going to cover in this chapter.
We will get into the nuts and bolts of all the hard work a personal trainer puts in behind the scenes to help their clients change their lives.
But we also will cover a few things that you, as a personal trainer, should focus on to better yourself.
So let’s start with that.
Using your time in between client sessions to better yourself
As personal trainers, we often focus everything on our clients and tend to forget about ourselves.
That’s particularly true when you are starting out and want first to make a good impression and second, build up your client roster so you can succeed in your career.
That puts plenty of pressure on yourself, often to your detriment.
So it’s important to take the time you spend away from training clients and use it to your benefit.
And there are several ways that you can do this.
Keep training to stay in shape
We can probably argue forever about how people perceive that a personal trainer should look.
And that’s fine because everybody will have their own opinion.
For example, should a personal trainer look ready to enter a bodybuilding competition?
Well, that depends on the trainer and their ideas, wants, needs, and goals regarding their fitness.
One thing I can tell you is that to be a personal trainer; I believe that you must look after your body and stay in shape.
This is something we often neglect at points during our careers.
But why must a personal trainer be in shape? Well, there are many reasons.
A personal trainer that’s in shape is credible and trustworthy
If you think about it, this stands to reason.
Why would an overweight client want to sign up with a personal trainer that’s carrying some extra pounds?
What does that say about those personal trainer programs regarding weight loss?
Although they might be effective, just the perception their extra weight creates will be a huge negative for someone looking to choose a personal trainer.
They are probably going to use the services of someone else.
As I said earlier, it’s not about having muscles bulging all over the place.
But it is about looking fit and healthy.
That will make you seem credible from the moment a potential client lays eyes on you.
That’s just the way the world operates.
First impressions last, that’s for sure.
Your job is physically demanding
Look, as a personal trainer; you will spend plenty of time on your feet.
But that’s not all.
What about carrying weights, showing your clients the correct exercise method, and even helping them stretch?
This job will take a lot out of you during the day.
And that’s another important reason why you should be in shape.
A personal trainer that takes time out to stay in shape can deal with those long days in the gym, where getting five minutes to sit down and have a cup of coffee is a luxury.
Finding the time to train
Yes, I know what you are thinking.
“When can I find the time to train?”
This is something that affects all of us as personal trainers, especially as our client rosters grow.
So it’s all good and well that you need to stay in shape but you are struggling to find the time to do so.
Luckily, if you think outside the box a little, there are plenty of solutions.
Train alongside your clients
This should only be an option if THEY ask you to; it’s not something you should suggest to them.
A client might want something like this because you can become an effective workout buddy and even provide extra motivation for them to succeed.
But even if a new client asks you to train alongside them, it’s probably better to say no at that point.
That’s because with new clients, you will want to focus on their form and that they can do the exercises at the intensity you require.
It’s an option for more experienced clients that know the exercise and how to carry them out.
Again, I cannot stress enough that training alongside a client should only happen if they ask you to do it.
If they do ask you, there are two ways you can handle training in this manner.
Either train the exercises as they do or opt to do alternate sets.
If you go for the second option, it means you can still keep an eye on the client to see that they are going through each exercise properly.
Teaching multiple clients new exercises
For those personal trainers with plenty of clients to work through, adding new exercises to their existing plans and changing things slightly can benefit them.
That’s because if you introduce exercises they haven’t done before, you will have to demonstrate how the exercise looks in terms of form.
Do that to several clients throughout the day and yes, you will be burning a few extra calories, that’s for sure.
It’s not only a benefit to you but to your clients as well.
That’s because you are keeping their workout routines fresh and interesting.
That stops them from getting bored when things get stuck in a rut.
Think outside the box for cardiovascular exercise
Cardiovascular exercise is a must, right?
And one of the easiest ways you can achieve some form of cardio is by thinking a little outside the box.
For example, does the gym that you work in have some stairs?
Well, you can use them for training in the downtime while you wait for your clients.
You could even incorporate them into a client’s training regime and work out with them simultaneously (as we covered above).
Stairs are also a brilliant idea for interval training.
And with that, you can push yourself hard in a short space of time.
But it’s not only at the gym where you can get your cardio in.
If you live within running distance, why don’t you opt to run to and from the gym in the mornings and evenings when your shift is over.
If running is not your thing, perhaps you can consider biking to the gym instead.
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Both of these are excellent ways to keep your fitness levels up, especially if you are prepared to push yourself hard.
Change up where you train
There is a common problem that personal trainers find when they train in the gym that they work in.
And that’s on their own training time members still see them as gym staff on duty.
As a personal trainer, you will become one of the most recognizable faces in the gym.
You are there almost every day; even when clients don’t use your services, they know who you are.
That means, from time to time, they may ask for advice, or your help with a certain exercise, even on your own training time.
And while most of us don’t mind helping out, that distraction can mess with your momentum as you train.
There is another scenario at play here as well, though.
For many of us, we do not enjoy training in the same gym we work in.
And it’s completely understandable as to the reason why.
That’s because if you spend most of your day there, why would you also want to train there?
So changing where you train not only stops the interruptions, but it’s also good to keep you fresh and motivated.
If you are training at the gym where you work and find it a problem, it’s worth trying to get your daily workouts somewhere else.
Taking the time to better yourself
So after we’ve covered the need to look after your body from a fitness point of view, there is also the need to better yourself continually.
That’s especially true if, one day in the future, you want to specialize in a certain area of the personal training field, for example, as a strength and conditioning coach or a group exercise specialist.
You will also have to take the time to focus on your continuing education.
And while I have mentioned it before, let’s refresh on that a bit because it forms part of what to do with your time when not training clients.
The thing is, no matter what certification organization you become an accredited trainer through, they will have continuing education (CECs) requirements in place that you will have to fulfill.
This is usually in two to three-year cycles.
And it’s certainly something you must take note of and plan for.
That’s because you will have to earn certain points during these cycles.
You earn these by attending various workshops, seminars, and other meetings that are run by the certification organization or other bodies.
I say you need to plan this carefully because you don’t leave too little time to earn them.
That’s why it’s better to plan well ahead, identify the workshops or seminars you can attend, and gain the correct number of points so that your certification remains valid for another cycle.
But there is another reason why I think CECs are important.
It’s the exposure they give to various other areas in the fitness world.
In fact, in this way, they could help you choose what area you would like to specialize in.
So, in a nutshell, by continually looking to better yourself as a personal trainer, you will take care of your CEC requirements, and, more importantly, your clients will benefit the most.
That’s because you continue to improve yourself as a trainer, a win-win for everyone.
In the chapter resources, I’ve included a huge list of continuing education providers that are best for you to explore when seeking to gain CECs or further certifications.
The downloadable document is called the Comprehensive Continuing Education Providers List.
Upskilling your fitness knowledge
If there’s one bit of advice, I can give you after my years in the fitness industry; you should always try to better yourself.
And when I say that, I am talking about expanding your knowledge base.
Believe me, after taking a certification exam following six months of study, you about know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fitness.
There is just so much more to learn.
I know that certifications are expensive but if you are starting out and money is a little tight as you try to build your career, there are still many ways to increase your knowledge and learn.
Thankfully, there are many resources on the web that you can make use of.
It’s one of the reasons why I started my web portal, PT Pioneer.
So take some time to find websites, social media feeds, and other resources you can learn from.
And keep returning to them; there is a wealth of information to be found, that’s for sure.
Another option is to use your local library and find reference books to work through.
This is an inexpensive way to learn.
You could also subscribe to one or two fitness magazines with some cash.
They are usually packed with useful content and often contain the latest techniques and fitness ideas that are rising in popularity in gyms worldwide.
These are all good and well, but you need to start looking at the bigger picture at some point.
If you don’t upskill yourself, you will be left behind.
As a personal trainer, you should always seek to continue your overall development.
The best way to do that is through self-improvement.
And it stands to reason, right?
If you don’t upskill yourself, you eventually give clients an outdated service.
Why would they want to train with a personal trainer who received a single certification 20 years ago and hasn’t moved on since then?
But let’s take a look at a few more reasons why you should always look to upskill during your career as a personal trainer.
It always helps to provide the best for your clients.
By studying further, you are improving what you know about health and fitness and the industry as a whole.
While that benefits you, a group of important people will benefit even more – your clients.
Not only will you be able to provide them with the latest in cutting edge workouts that will help them achieve their goals and expectations, but it gives you the edge over your competitors as well.
Those that aren’t advancing their knowledge are going to fall behind.
It keeps you relevant.
Thanks to the fast pace that the fitness industry continues to evolve, you, as a personal trainer, and your skills must stay relevant.
And that’s what studying further will do for you as well.
The fitness industry is in a constant state of change.
And it’s not only new fitness techniques and skills you have to worry about.
Technology is playing an ever-increasing role too.
Things like fitness apps, wearables, and online training take the fitness world by storm.
You don’t want to be left behind.
For example, let’s look at different exercises and new equipment that personal trainers can build into their clients’ exercise programs.
If you can continually learn new exercises, how to incorporate modern equipment, and ultimately, build up and have a huge exercise library at your fingertips, your clients benefit greatly.
Knowledge of a huge library of exercises also means that you always have a backup plan, for example, when the equipment you want to use for a client is unavailable or occupied.
That also means you can change things by taking a training session outside the gym and down to the local park.
These are the things that make for a great personal trainer.
If you are looking for the ultimate resource for exercise libraries online, download the chapter resource called The Best Online Exercise Libraries.
It aids client safety
One key thing that is paramount when training clients is their safety.
That safety is partly guaranteed by your overall knowledge of exercise and any medical conditions a client may suffer.
By upskilling yourself through studying further, you are helping to keep your clients safe.
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And if an injury or situation occurs, you will also have the knowledge to deal with it.
It helps you keep things fresh.
Upskilling yourself certainly helps you learn new techniques to keep your exercise programs fresh.
You don’t want to be a personal trainer 10 years later, still devising the same programs repeatedly, right?
That will lead to one thing and one thing only – bored clients, especially those with some training savvy.
And what will they do then?
Well, they will look elsewhere for their training needs.
When you constantly improve yourself, the client benefits the most and will ultimately benefit you in the long run.
You can offer more
One of the big plusses when it comes to upskilling yourself is the fact that you can offer your clients more.
And here I am talking about adding extra certifications to your knowledge base.
For example, as a personal trainer, you might want to take a massage therapy certification and offer that as an added service to your clients.
Or you could choose to specialize, helping clients who want to lose weight.
For that reason, a nutrition certification will come in handy.
Adding more services to what you already know also increases your income streams because it will lead to a larger client base in the long run.
You can earn more
Another massive plus point when it comes to upskilling yourself is that you can charge clients more.
Think about it, in the medical field; a specialist charges more than a regular doctor because he is an expert in his chosen field, for example, sports injuries.
It’s the same when it comes to personal training.
If you specialize in a certain area, you can charge your clients more than a regular personal trainer.
Specialization is the easiest way to improve your income before you even branch out into other income streams, for example, online training.
It is something that I cover in my marketing, business, and sales course, too, if you would like to explore that a little further.
Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to earn a little bit more money?
Using your time in between client sessions to be better organized
So now that we’ve covered how to better yourself as a personal trainer during the downtime between training sessions, there’s something else that I want to discuss.
As a personal trainer, you need to be pretty organized.
That’s because if you have a pretty big client roster, things can get a little hairy at times when you are not.
Ultimately, if you aren’t properly organized, then clients will suffer.
Continue to do it, and you will suffer as they look elsewhere for a trainer.
There’s nothing worse for a client who turns up on time to a training session, only to find their trainer dashing around to find the correct workout routine for them.
It’s certainly not a good look and is thoroughly unprofessional.
So let’s take a look at a few things that will help you become more organized as a personal trainer.
Start with a schedule
As your client base grows, the first thing you should be looking to implement to help keep track of training is a schedule.
This is probably the most important aspect of your organization’s policy.
If you get the schedule wrong and miss a training session that you were meant to be at, you will have an unhappy client.
Now each of us has our way of keeping track of things, but there are a few important rules you must follow, no matter how you choose.
The first step to any good schedule is to keep track of everything by recording it.
It could be a diary in which you write down appointments. If you love technology, you could use a spreadsheet to draw up a schedule.
Or you could even use the calendar on your tablet or smartphone.
Just find the right system that will work for you.
And that’s why I recommend finding a personal training software option that works for you and your clients and that fits your budget.
It’s an invaluable way of tracking many variables that you must examine closely.
In terms of managing client appointments, it isn’t easy to beat.
It’s probably best to keep track of your schedule on a week by week basis (for example, write out your schedule for the upcoming week on a Sunday).
Once you have recorded it for the upcoming week, the second step is calling to remind clients of their appointments and calling clients to book appointments in any open slots you have available during the week.
Once your schedule is up and running for the week ahead, you have no excuse regarding client appointments.
That ensures you are there for them on time and prepared for each client.
Setting reminders on your smartphone is a good way to ensure you don’t miss an appointment.
For example, an hour before you are due to see a client set a reminder about their appointment.
Keep proper records
If you have three clients or 33 clients, you owe it to them to keep proper records.
From the start, clients will generate plenty of paperwork.
Things like the questionnaires they fill in before you do the initial assessment.
Then there is your assessment, followed by the various training programs you might draw up for them.
And what about the notes you take while they are busy training?
All of this will need to be kept in a suitable manner where it can be easily accessed.
Perhaps the best way of doing this is using an alphabetized filing system with each client ordered according to their surname.
Again, personal training software can be a godsend in this regard.
No need for any files or papers that can easily get lost, as now all client records are kept digitally.
And they are available and ready at your fingertips whenever you need them.
But that’s not the only way to do it.
Perhaps you could order clients in terms of the package they purchased from you, for example, keeping all those who have purchased a year-long contract together.
Or you could organize your clients on their preferred appointment time, for example, keeping all your clients that exercise in the morning in a batch together.
There is no right way here; it’s just the best way that works for you.
Of course, you will need somewhere to store all this information.
If you have an office at the gym where you work, a simple filing cabinet might do the trick.
Just find a place where it will be safe and behind the lock and key as well.
After all, client information is confidential and should always be respected in that regard.
Deal with the day-to-day
When you work as a personal trainer, training clients is always at your mind.
And it should be because that’s what you do.
There are other day-to-day activities that, while not as important, shouldn’t be pushed aside, however.
It’s for that reason that every day, it’s important to set time aside to keep on top of things.
But what exactly am I talking about?
Well, you could contact clients to confirm their appointments the next day, especially if they are prone to be late or sometimes don’t just show up.
That’s being proactive.
And it’s a good thing.
But why stop there?
You can also look to fill up your schedule a week at a time.
That gives you peace of mind and means that over the weekend, you won’t be chasing clients to book for the week to follow.
This period is also perfect for other important aspects of running your business as a personal trainer.
Things like checking your emails or getting back to anyone who may have called while you were busy with another client.
You will also need to keep your hand on plenty of other things.
These might not be day-to-day activities, but you shouldn’t overlook them.
For example, paying bills, following up on continuing education workshops, or sending motivational messages to your clients.
I’ve included a range of motivational messages in a downloadable resource for this chapter called Motivational Messages.
Draw up and re-evaluate client training programs
When it comes to your clients, things are always changing.
That’s because as they train with you, they will improve their fitness.
That means that the exercise program you started should be continually evolving.
So it’s important that when you are not in the gym, you set aside some time to look into each client’s program and change them up when needed.
This can take a lot of time, especially as your client base grows, but it’s an essential task that you cannot ignore.
Of course, for every new client you gain, you will also need to take the time to draw up a unique training program for them.
Track potential clients
In the last point, I mentioned that part of your day-to-day activities should include following up on leads for potential clients.
And it’s something that’s of extreme importance if you are looking to grow your business.
So you are going to have to set time aside to do this.
As a personal trainer, not everyone will sign up with you immediately.
People will come to chat about your services and what you can do for them and it might go away without signing up.
But that doesn’t mean that your chances are done and dusted.
For the most part, you should try to get contact records for every potential client you talk to.
And then you follow-up on their interest – because they certainly showed interest – at a later date.
You can do this using a simple spreadsheet.
Keep the client’s details, how you sourced their details (for example, a referral), the last time you contacted them, and the number of contact attempts.
There is nothing wrong with contacting them multiple times, especially if they don’t say “don’t contact me again” but rather “let me think about it a little more.”
Tracking potential clients is something you cannot ignore as a personal trainer.
That’s especially true if you work not in a large commercial gym but as a freelance trainer.
If you want to grow your business, you need to master it.
As far as tracking potential clients go, I cover it in detail in my marketing, sales, and business course.
Once you have systems that help you remain organized, it’s not a time to sit back on your laurels.
That’s because, no matter how well you have planned these systems, nothing is ever perfect.
That’s why, occasionally, you should set aside an evaluation period.
This can be applied to everything you do. But for now, I want to focus more on the organizational side of things.
What you need to do is look through how your systems are operating. For example:
- Is your schedule working as it should be?
- Do you arrive prepared for every client you see (for example, do you have their information readily available?
- Are you getting to the day-to-day tasks such as following up on leads, answering emails, handling marketing, and more?
- Are you leaving yourself enough opportunities to train and keep in shape?
These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself.
They will help you to find pitfalls in your planning that you can then focus on correcting.
You will always be streamlining your system to improve it.
Take some time out
Listen, even a personal trainer needs some downtime.
It’s important that now and again, you step away to give yourself a much-needed break.
At times, especially as your business grows, that might seem impossible.
But it’s necessary.
That’s because you will be useless to your clients if you burn out.
My advice is this.
Once a week, find time in your schedule to step away for a little.
I’m not even talking about going to the gym here and training.
You want to get away from that entirely.
So go watch a movie, take time to read a book, see some sites in your city, have coffee with friends, the list is endless.
As long as it takes you out of the training game for a little while.
Your clients will thank you for it because your focus will be renewed when you are back.
Being a personal trainer is not all about training clients, that’s for sure.
You also have to use the time when you aren’t training them to your advantage.
And that’s what we covered in this chapter.
From training yourself, continuing education, and how to properly organize your business, we looked at a range of crucial factors a personal trainer must consider when not on the gym floor with their clients.
Whether you train in a gym or online, all of these points are relative.
I cover other specifics that pertain to those trainers who take their careers online in my online personal training course.
Don’t forget to take the chapter takeaway quiz to make sure you have a good grasp of everything covered here.
Course Resources – Chapter 9 – Best Online Exercise Libraries
Course Resources – Chapter 9 – Comprehensive Continuing Education Providers List
Course Resources – Chapter 9 – Motivational Messages
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