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Avoid Burn Out! – The Block System for Personal Trainers

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

The system that one trainer used to work 480hrs less in a year while doubling his salary.

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First, let me give you a little of my history. Some quick stats:

  • Started personal training full time with a Kinesiology degree and 3 years of experience working at the campus gym
  • Got a job at a fantastic boutique studio with lots of support
  • Offered $26/hr

My goal was to save $30 000 and get out of my parents basement.

Overreaching

I decided to work my butt off and make that $30 000 as quickly as possible. I opened my schedule 7 days/week whenever clients would train and took on anybody and everybody who wanted a trainer.

I though the $26/hr would make me rich!

After a couple months of 13-14hr days 7 days a week I achieved what I thought was success as a personal trainer. I was training ~150 client hours a month.

Anybody who’s ever trained knows that 150hrs a month of actual training corresponds to ~65hrs/wk in the gym. We joked that I would replace the receptionists as I would open and close the gym on the same day.

Before hammering out some math I’m going to lay out the realities of training that many hours:

  1. It’s impossible to plan effective for that many clients
  2. Your home life suffers
  3. Your social life suffers
  4. You never workout yourself
  5. You don’t have the energy to motivate clients
  6. Your own hobbies become non-existant

As a result your performance suffers and you experience a high rate of attrition.  If you want to keep up the same amount of hours then you have to spend more time on the phone / pounding the pavement.

A good trainer never needs to throw himself at new clients, his reputation will sell itself – Click to Tweet

Some Math

150hrs a month. That’s a huge amount of contact hours isn’t it? Wouldn’t all trainers love to work that much? We’d be rich. Indulge me for a minute and let me show you why you’re wrong.

$26/hr * 160hrs/month * 12months/year = $49 920/year

Subtract taxes and you’re banking $30-35 000 a year. Allow the ebb and flow which is characteristic of the personal training profession and the occasional week or couple days off and you’re approaching the low $30 000 mark. When I did the math after killing myself for two years I had a serious revelation:

I’m working this hard to put $30 000 in my bank account??

The Block System – My Solution

I want to show you how to get your schedule to a consistent ~120hrs a month after you’ve let if get out of hand. I call this system the Block System. You can read all about it in my book, Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career.

  1. Categorize your clients into 3 parts: Consistent clients, wishy-washy clients, program design
  2. Identify any already-existing patterns in your schedule (probably you already have bunches
  3. Have 5-7 blocks throughout the week you want to work, ideally 5-6 hours long.  if you’re a morning person 6-12 works well.  If you’re a night-hawk like me 4:30-9:30 works well
  4. Approach your consistent clients first.  If they aren’t already in one of these blocks offer them the spots first, these clients are your bread and butter and you should treat them well
  5. Offer any remaining spots to the wishy-washy clients you wish to keep.  If they’re a pain, it may not be worth it for you to keep them.  Your choice.
  6. Only place program design clients into the blocks allotted.

Occasionally you may want to book somebody outside of a block, this is going the extra 10%, just don’t do it consistently

Your goal as a trainer should be to work ~120hrs a month.  Anything more than that and it’s impossible to do a good job.

Why Listen to Me?

Refer to my math earlier where I made ~$30 000 in a year of KILLING MYSELF.

After I successfully implemented the block system my training hours cut down to 120 a month. I used the extra time (and sanity) to read and study in addition to provide a much better service to my clients.

As a result the following year I got promoted to the senior trainer position at my club and my hourly wage almost doubled. In addition, I generated more referrals than I could handle so got commissions on each one.

Let’s break that down. 30hrs less a week = 480hrs less a year. Superficially this means $12,480 less in my pocket. In reality:

My salary more than double the following year!

And it increased every year that followed until I stopped training in-person to grow this site.

In addition, my business became turnkey and my clients became committed. Here is what my schedule looks like the week that I originally wrote this post. Keep in mind it was in the middle of August where personal trainers generally struggle.

Personal trainer time management

The Block System in Action

Time is everything as a personal trainer. If I hadn’t broken up my schedule into blocks I would still be making $30 000 a year, doing a haphazard job, exhausted, unhappy, and wouldn’t have had time to set up the PTDC or write a book.

About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

As the creator and head coach of thePTDC, I'd have to say that this thing is pretty awesome. If you're interested in my book, it's called Ignite the Fire. Feel free to come hang out on my Facebook page where I talk explore the perfect balance between fitness, business, and living an awesome and fulfilling life.