From a business perspective, a good part of your success as a personal trainer can be put down to how you manage your time. The most in-demand trainers are also the most deliberate and effective with their time. They don’t muck around; they treat personal training (and the business of personal training) as a profession, not a hobby.
If your goal is to work less while earning more, then here are six savvy (yet timeless) time management strategies that you can implement straightaway. A lot of people will try to sell you apps, software, or “hacks” to improve your productivity, but this is not what I’m offering. These are tried and tested principles that will not only make you more effective in your time management strategy, they will help you achieve balance (and increased happiness) in all areas of your life
Design a perfect week template
A perfect week template will provide a foundation for you to manage your time and schedule efficiently.
Designing a perfect week template is simple; all you need to do is specify in advance how you want to spend your time during the week. Then, instead of opening your calendar every time you want to book a client and seeing a white wall of empty space, you’ll have designated blocks for seeing clients, writing programs, completing administration tasks and, most importantly, spending time with friends and family.
Structuring your time will give you more freedom and peace of mind. Only seeing clients when you want to see clients and setting aside time to relax with family and friends will help you do both guilt-free, knowing that you’ve already allocated the necessary time for each in your schedule.
Here’s an example of a perfect week template:
As you can see, I’ve got several clearly defined blocks in the schedule each day—some for training clients, some for doing administration work and even some for my own workouts.
Allocate your clients a regular training time
Always strive to allocate your clients a permanent spot in your schedule. There are two clear benefits to this:
- It gives you an opportunity to schedule your client for a time that suits both of you over the long term.
- Because your goal is to ultimately build a long-term relationship with your client in which they are benefiting from your services over the longest period of time possible, allocating a permanent spot to your client enables them to build their personal training sessions into their weekly routine.
Create blocks of sessions
Take a look at your schedule for this week. Do you see well-organised blocks of clients or does your schedule resemble a piece of Swiss cheese, with holes all over the place? If it’s the latter, then consider this advice.
When booking a client into your diary, always try and place them next to another client. This way, once you finish with one client, you’ll move straight to the next. This is much more effective than allowing unproductive dead time between clients.
Additionally, as an added benefit, when you’re back-to-back with clients it gives the impression to gym members looking on that you’re in demand.
Be deliberate with your time in the gym
Too many personal trainers treat their time haphazardly. If you want a long and fruitful career as a personal trainer—rather than it being just a stopgap while you’re on the way to something else—then you need to be deliberate with your time.
Take a look at your schedule for tomorrow. You’ve got a few clients, right? What about the spaces you have between those clients—how do you intend on using that time? Instead of lounging around with your colleagues or wasting time scrolling on social media in the down time between clients, why not put that time to better use?
Here are a few simple ideas for productive ways to use down time between clients:
- Hit the gym floor and strike up conversations with new members about potentially training with you. I used to do this with a trainer buddy of mine a few years ago. We would bet on who could give away the most complimentary sessions in an hour. The great thing about this was that we both had a bit of fun while between clients and used our time productively—as complimentary sessions are an excellent sales tool to help sell personal training.
- Expand your knowledge base and skills by reading health, fitness and business-related materiel.
- Tackle some administrative tasks. Completing your programs and writing emails in the gap between clients is a far better use of time than putting it off until late at night when you should be resting and relaxing.
Create boundaries around contact time
Every successful relationship has boundaries, and the personal trainer/client relationship is no exception. When I was new to the industry, I was practically on-call 24 hours a day. I would frequently respond to client text messages when out with friends and I would take phone calls late at night when at home with my partner. If you don’t set boundaries for when clients can (and cannot) expect to be able to reach you, you run the risk of fostering unreasonable expectations.
Don’t disrespect your own time. To make this a sustainable career, you need to establish some ground rules with your clients around communication. Make it clear when they can contact you outside of their scheduled session and how long it might take you to reply if you aren’t available right away. For example, I think it’s reasonable to let your clients know that if they contact you after 6:00 pm, then they may not receive a response until the following morning. This ensures that you and your clients are on the same page and that you’re not being seen as ‘rude’ if you don’t respond to any late-night text messages.
Follow the one-touch policy for administration tasks
How often do you sit down and open your laptop to do some work, but after an hour you suddenly realise you’ve done absolutely nothing at all?
When it comes to administration work, such as checking email or writing client programs, adopt the one-touch policy. It’s simple: if you open your laptop and start replying to an email or reading an article, you’ve now touched it, which means you now need to finish what you’ve started before moving on to something else.
How effective you are with the time that you have is paramount in building not just a job—but a thriving career in the fitness industry.
By following these time management strategies, you’ll be able to exponentially improve how effective you are with your time, leading to a smarter schedule and, perhaps more importantly, freedom outside the gym—giving you more time to do what you love most.
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