Avoiding the Personal Trainer Funk by Louise Worboys

We all have them, quieter times of the year when we start to question what we are doing, motivation dips and we feel generally in a bit of a funk with the industry or business.   I think for most people who work on their own there comes a sense of isolation but in our role the work really is never done. If you compare our workload to that of a commercial gym, or any larger business, they have someone do their marketing and sales, they have someone clean, someone to deal with customer issues, someone whose job it is to track and plan business data, and someone who manages budgets and payments. When all of those things and more come rolling up to your door it’s easy to see why most personal trainers feel overwhelmed at times as most of us got into the industry to do the physical hands on coaching stuff and were ill prepared to deal with what it takes to run a successful business.  

Now if you are in LTB you will know that you are in a better position than most trainers out there, with a vast array of information available to you that will help you build a successful and fulfilling career in the fitness industry. But that doesn’t stop people getting into a funk, things like a client leaving and financial uncertainty can have a major impact on motivation and because we are passionate about what we do it’s easy to take a client leaving really personally and even more so when that client leaving affects your ability to pay your mortgage or rent.  

So can we avoid the funk? Maybe, by getting ourselves more organised. 

Get business serious.

If you are expecting to be able to pay your mortgage, and build a business that will give you and your family security in the long term you can’t treat it like a hobby. You have to take it seriously. 

Respect your time.

Plan and organize, and stick to your commitments. It’s easy after a week of early starts and late finishes to be shattered in the middle of the day and not be anywhere near as productive as you think you can be. So plan your time accordingly, set yourself specific admin time to get your work done when you know that you are productive, turn off your FB notifications and crack the heck on. Stop when your time is up and move on.  

Plan your off time and lighten up.

Take up a hobby, have fun, spend distraction free time with your kids, friends, wife, husband whoever. If you are away from your phone, emails or Facebook for half a day the world won’t end. Nor will all your clients leave if you take a week off or are clear about your working hours. I know it’s easy to get sucked into replying to Facebook messages at 11:30pm but you aren’t helping yourself and you aren’t helping your clients to respect your personal boundaries either, constantly being on alert and in work mode doesn’t increase productivity it increases tiredness and feelings of burnout and resentment and normally arguments about not being present or interested in social/family time. Make time for what’s important to you, set yourself ‘normal’ working hours, communicate them well to your clients and your family.  

Use the LTB resources sensibly and get really good.

LTB is a vast library of information from PT basics right through to high level performance and business stuff. But use it for what’s relevant. It is easy to get excited and start too many courses, adopting all of the shiny things, but if they aren’t relevant to what you need right now or you can’t implement them with your client base they aren’t worth your time right now. You want to be the best, that’s why you joined LTB, and you want to learn and develop but you need to be strict with yourself and your time. Learn something, practice it, implement it and review what you’ve tried and adjust it accordingly. Development for developments sake is pointless and will lead to feelings of overwhelm. So if you don’t need to worry about leads and marketing find ways/courses that help you improve your skillset as a coach or the service you offer your clients. If you are just starting out getting good at people skills, and coaching is far more important than running high level marketing campaigns because if you can’t get people results once they are paying you they won’t be paying you for long.  

Save some of your money.

All businesses have peaks and troughs. Get into the habit of not treating everything you earn as your own money. Set up a business bank account and give yourself a wage. Save the rest, that way in a quieter month you aren’t panicking about paying your wages or your mortgage. Aim to have at least 3 months’ worth of money saved so that if something really unexpected happens you aren’t going to be under financial stress (one of the biggest sources of stress for trainers). It takes a bit of time to get to the point where you have that money saved but you will significantly reduce your stress levels once you know it’s there.  

Stop throwing mud at the wall and getting frustrated that your marketing doesn’t work.

A large majority of us don’t track anywhere near as much as we should. So plan in time to spend a morning setting up trackers, revisit your trackers once a week or month. Use them to track where your leads are coming from, track why people came to you, track how long they stay, how much they spend and why they left.  If you can put this data together for your clients going forwards then you know what’s successful for your business, who you work with, where they came from and when they arrive, how long they are likely to stay. Then you know how much each client is worth to you and can determine a reasonable amount of marketing budget per client acquisition and where to spend your time advertising. And importantly, you know the reason for people leaving so if there are trends you can address them. You can spend a morning or afternoon drawing up a robust marketing plan from the data you’ve got and then you can stop throwing money and adverts out there that don’t work or aren’t getting you the right people and, more importantly, you’ll stop muddying the waters for those clients looking to work with you that are confused about what you offer.  

I think you are always going to take it personally when someone leaves or doesn’t sign up but having a planned and organised business means that you can have a more enjoyable time in the industry. I hope that helps.

Check out the courses available to LTB members here. Or sign up for the 2 week free trial here.