Big Problem in Personal Training industry – Lack of Regular Program Updates

Hey Fitness Pros,

In my next few blogs, I wanted to touch on a few items that I believe would elevate the professionalism and standards in our industry. Please leave your comments at the end of my blog and let me know what you think. Am I on the right track or out to lunch?!

The Problem:  Lack of regular client program updates: Trainers are often busy back-to-back with clients all day long.  It’s difficult to find the time to do program and file updates to keep clients on track with their fitness program, progressing appropriately and achieving their goals. But this is the most important part of the process – it’s the method to the madness, the rationale for what we do.  Otherwise we’re just going through the motions.  Trainers who do understand the importance of this process are often forced to do these critical program updates at home or in their down-time without getting paid.  But why would you not get paid for the most important part of the process – remember the saying “Fail to Plan then Plan to Fail!”

The Solution: As a professional fitness and training organization, we absolutely need to take the time to regularly update our clients’ files and programs, periodize their progress, measure success and plan accordingly to help our clients achieve incredible, life changing results. These extensive program updates need to be completed every 3-4 months as a minimum.  And most importantly, trainers should be charging and getting paid for this time as professionals.  Think of attorneys – very little of their time that they charge for is face-to-face time.  They understand their value and worth and have no problem charging for any time they spend on your file!  And not only that, they charge top dollar!  Bottom line – if you want to be regarded as a professional, you need to act like one.

The Action Plan: Inform your clients that for the next year, you are going to put it in your calendar every 3-4 months to spend time planning and updating their entire program.  You will systematically progress and adjust their program to ensure they are achieving incredible results.  Let them know that you will use 30-60 minutes every few months to make these important adjustments to their program.  Let them know you will complete this task in the following ways:

  • When they short-notice cancel, you will use that time to complete significant program updates.
  • When they are on holidays, instead of canceling out of all of their scheduled appointment(s), you will use a session to complete these significant program updates.
  • When a client is consistent and doesn’t miss sessions, you will use an hour of their time during your down-time/admin time to ensure these program updates get done.  You’ll just need to program that time for them into the computer like a real session and make a note in their file that you used that hour for a program update.
  • If for whatever reason your client is not comfortable paying for your ‘non-face time’, inform them that you will ask them every few months to come in early and do some cardio on their own, then you will do a shorter muscle conditioning workout, and then spend the remaining time doing this critical planning and prepping together.

Note:  During these extensive program updates, you should systematically perform assessments to measure progress and ensure your program is working.  If not, something needs to be adjusted!  At NWPT, we perform body composition and/or performance assessments every few months to ensure results are going in the right direction.

Note:  Human nature dictates that clients are ready to ramp up their program in January, Spring and September.  It would make sense to perform assessments and launch upgraded programs during these time periods.  So then the months prior would be a good point to take some time to get their files in order.  In terms of the calendar year, this is perfect timing.  December is typically a down time for clients because of the holidays and travel.  So use this time to get clients’ files in order before the January surge– just remember to charge for your time.  Same in August – training is typically slower so this would be a great time to get files in order to ramp up for September.

Win:Win: The clients win because you will be spending the critical time to ensure you’re taking a systematic approach to helping them reach their fitness goals.  You and the business wins because every few months, you’ll charge one hour to their account so you can complete these updates – that means paid training time, increased productivity, higher revenues and more bonuses.

Let me know what you think.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan


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