As a personal trainer, you’re overworked, overstressed, and underpaid. The key to retaking control and scaling your fitness business is better time management.
The only problem? You’re maxed out on time and short on cash.
During a recent presentation at Jon Goodman’s The Strong Summit in Toronto, Eric Cressey mentioned the average U.S. trainer makes around $31,000 a year, has no benefits, and works 60 hours per week.
Yikes! Not exactly the glitz and glamor of the #fitlifestyle you see on Instagram.
Long hours and low pay present you with two major issues. You’ve discovered passion isn’t enough. You’re probably struggling to make ends meet as a personal trainer.
Forget saving for retirement or building wealth; your fingers are crossed that you can pay your rent this month. If a couple of clients cancel, you could be in real trouble. And forget about taking time off to attend a conference. Even carving out time for your family can be a problem.
But how can ever get out of your rut when you’re already spending so much time in the gym?
It’s a cruel dilemma. You can’t dial back your in-person business. You have rent to pay, food to buy, and college loans to pay back. But you know you can’t trade dollars for hours forever.
But enough with the hopelessness and despair. I’ve been there — and found a way to climb out of time trap. And so can you by leveraging the most overlooked depreciating asset at your disposal: time.
I’m about to reveal the habits I’ve used to build multiple six figure fitness businesses from the ground up. I’ve also created a FREE checklist for your office, here. You will discover how to retake control of your time and build your dream business.
1. Define Your One Thing
Define one major task you will do today to move your business forward. In The One Thing, Gary Keller asks: “What is the ONE Thing you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Asking this question forces you to be honest about your priorities. By focusing on your highest value task, you’ll take the steps needed to build your business, rather than feeling overwhelmed.
Here’s an example for a trainer launching his first website.
Day One: Pick a web host, like Hostgator, GoDaddy, and BlueHost. Pick one and move on.
Day Two: Pick an autoresponder like Aweber which is free for 30 days, or MailChimp which allows you to hold your first 2,000 leads for free.
Day Three: Brainstorm and pick out a URL. You can change this later.
Day Four: Get started on WordPress. Yes, there are other cheaper options. But having helped dozens of fitness professionals fix broken websites, I believe it’s best to start with WordPress, as you’ll want to migrate there anyway.
If you already have these basics set up, your big focus should be around creating content solving your client’s biggest problems.
Don’t overthink this stuff. Take massive action. You could get stuck on Day 2, deciding which auto-responder to use. You start making checklists. You start posting in Facebook groups. You ask your 15-year-old cousin, Vinny, whose Mom says he’s great at web stuff. You get lost by losing sight of the overall objective.
Sidenote: The biggest time suck of all is logo obsession. Guess what? You don’t need a logo at all. If your name is John Smith, call your new online business John Smith Fitness. And leave it at that for now.
Taking action builds momentum to drive you forward. You can course correct later.
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2. Be Proactive Early and Reactive Later
Getting into Facebook battles and checking your email can wait.
A better option? Get up and do your “One Thing” first thing every day.
Your willpower is highest early in the day. If you allow endless reactive tasks and live in your inbox, you’ll never get your important tasks done.
Block off an hour each morning and focus on proactive, massive action on your one thing. Save the reactive tasks like managing social media and email for 20-30 minute time blocks in the afternoon.
3. Beware of Parkinson’s Law
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. And the idea that you can effectively multi-task is simply untrue.
Focus on one thing at a time.
Set time blocks. This means if you give yourself to 20 minutes to do all your social media interaction, you’ll get it done in 20 minutes. If you have 60 minutes to research and outline an article, you have 60 minutes to get it done. Not 90 minutes. And not 900 minutes.
4. Use Tools to Block Distractions.
According to this post on Business Insider, the average person checks their phone 76 times per day and spends over 142 minutes on their phone each day. The high end of users? They touch their phone 5,400 times per day.
Don’t go crazy. Just say no. Take social media off your phone. If you’re not ready for this commitment, turn off notifications and put your phone on silent. You’re not on call 24/7.
Download the SelfControl App and turn it one whenever you’re doing your focus task for the day. Block social media, email, Bleacher Report, College Humor, or wherever else you use to waste time.
Use E.gg timers. These timers work well for creating deadlines. Try setting a 20-minute timer in the afternoon to knock out all your social media or email.
5. Hire Help as Soon as You Can
I know money is tight. So hiring people sounds foolish. But it’s not.
Let’s say you value your time at $60/hour.
Each morning you spend 30 minutes creating a Facebook post for your personal page, your professional page, and your Facebook group. Inevitably, you get side tracked and get stuck in your newsfeed for longer and get side-tracked from doing your “one thing.”
Over the course of a week, 7x$30= $210 of lost income and 3 ½ hours you could have spent being proactive and finishing the article you outlined.
Over the course of a year, this comes out to 182 hours.
If you value your time at $60/hour, this is $10,920 of lost income posting on Facebook.
Imagine what you could do with $10,920 extra dollars and 3-4 extra weeks worth of time.
If you spent one hour each week developing all your social media posts, it costs you $60.
If you hire and request your $10/hour virtual assistant (VA) to take 10 minutes each day and post the statuses, you’re paying $11.67 for an entire week, plus your $60 to outline the posts, or $ 71.67 per week and losing one hour of your time.
By hiring a virtual assistant you’re saving 2.5 hours and per week and $138.33.
Over the course of a year, this results in saving 130 hours and $7,193.16 compared to posting all your social media posts.
Apologies for all the math, but here’s your takeaway:
You need to know what your time is worth.
If you’re bogged down with admin tasks which prevent you from getting high-value projects done, then hire a VA.
6. Say No
As a trainer, you’re used to hustling for every client and being available whenever you’re needed. So, I’m sure this conversation sounds familiar:
Client: Hey, can I come in at 4:00 pm on Fridays instead of Thursday at 4:00 PM?
You’re thinking: Shit, shit, shit. Friday afternoon is my time to work on my online business. But $60 is $60. I need every penny.
You: Yeah, that’s fine.
You’re thinking after the workout: Damn it. When will I have time to work on my online business? Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. But will tomorrow ever come?
As difficult as it is, you need to say no to tasks that impede your ability to grow your business.
Look for alternative times to jive with both of your schedules or simply say, “No, I’m sorry. I’m not available. Can you make 12:00 pm Friday work?”
Going forward, get in the habit of saying no. If something isn’t a ”hell, yes!” because it helps you build the business you want, then it’s a no.
7. Tailor Client Expectations
If you don’t set your own expectations, someone will do it for you. By framing your day and blocking off time, you’ll have the freedom to focus on your most important work.
As an example, on days I’m not training clients I tell my business partner Daniel not to drop any reactive business tasks on my plate until 11:00 am. I also don’t schedule client or sales calls until the afternoon so I can focus on creating content and generating business ideas.
Write in the footer of your emails something like: “I check email once per day at 3:00 pm for 30 minutes. If something is urgent, call me at 281-330-8004.”
Just as have a 24-hour cancellation policy for personal training clients to protect your business, you need an email response policy to protect your time.
You are not on call 24/7. If you want people to respect your time, then set your limits, let them know, and stick to your guns.
Align your actions with your priorities. You’ll turn your dreams into reality. And you’ll be rewarded with a fitness business that provides the freedom and financial security you deserve.
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