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What’s in my desk?

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

My desk has become famous amongst personal trainers. Find out why…

A Typical Wednesday When I Trained Clients

9:02am – I glance down at my watch. As I look up my client runs past me to get changed. She tells me that she didn’t have time to eat.

10am – A new referral comes in for a meet and greet. He tells me that he suffers from patella tendinitis.

11am – I’m starving. My 5 egg omelet with spinach and cheese with an apple on the side isn’t cutting it.

12:20pm – My client complains during farmer’s walks that the roughness of the dumbbell is bothering her hand.

1pm – My energy’s waning. 2 more clients to go without a break. I laugh at my Gumby and Pokey dolls on my desk. It was just what I needed.

1:58pm – A member of the gym grabs me as I run for a washroom break saying he has a friend who wants to train with me.

2pm – I’m training a newish client who just finished the first GPP (General Preparation Phase). I want to change the workout to keep things interesting but she’s still progressing.

3pm – I finally have an hour break to eat real food before training 5 more clients.

11 clients in a day!

This wasn’t abnormal for me. I became adept at training 8-12 clients in a day for years (click here to learn how to get more clients). Sure I’d get home and fall asleep faster than Santa Claus on December 26th but my desk had everything I ever needed no matter what happened throughout the day.

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The whole world in one night! Dude must be zonked

Trainers I work with often complained that they couldn’t train more than 3 clients in a row. They would plan 30min holes throughout the day to “recover” and spent the time snacking on food while surfing Facebook.

At the end of the month they ask me how I was able to train 20hrs more than them. I did this while writing a book and growing an, ahem, awesome website.

Let’s revisit the timeline above (which was actually my Wednesday the week before I originally wrote this). I had 6 clients who’s workouts I had planned in advance yet was thrown 7 curveballs to deal with.

A novice trainer would get stressed out and try to cope on the fly. Not me — I was ready because of my personal trainer desk.

Here’s What’s in My Desk

9:07am – My first client told me that her kids slept in so she didn’t have time to eat. I gave her an orange from my desk and scoop of protein powder in one of my 3 mixing cups. By 9:10am she was training and made it through the whole workout with good energy.

10:10am – A new client came in and noted that patella tendinitis is an issue. I took out an article on patella tendonitis from my file in my desk, attached my business card to it, and handed it to the client to take with him. This article gives the potential client information on the condition and the strengthening protocols.

11:01am – Starving, I need some food to sip on the gym floor that doesn’t smell or get stuck in my teeth but has a high caloric content. I take out a super-shake from my desk in a magic bullet shaker cup (pre-blended). This one has walnuts, protein powder, spinach, milk, and coconut shards. I walk and drink it on the floor instead of water for the hour.

12:21pm – My client complained that the weights were bothering her hands during farmer’s walks. I take out thick sponges from my desk for my client to protect her hands. I’m happy because the sponges make the grip thicker and increase the grip challenge. My client’s happy because her hands are protected.

1:01 – Energy’s going again. I need a pick me up. I eat a big handful of almonds, take a 100mg caffeine pill and load up 15g of BCAA’s into my water bottle to sip on the floor as I train my 4th client in a row.

1:58 – A potential referral opportunity presents itself. I thank the member and tell them that I’m in a rush as my next client is warming up but make sure to give the member a pre-packaged coupon for a free assessment with my business card stapled to it. I hand it to the member and ask for their friends phone number or email. I write it down on my “remember” notepad on my desk and thank them again before running back onto the floor to train the next client.

2:10 – A client comes in who has just finished his General Preparation Phase (GPP). I decide to keep the program consistent as my client is progressing well but take out fat gripz from my desk to put on the bench press bar. The fat gripz keeps the program interesting for the client but means I don’t have to change the whole workout as the new client is still progressing.

3:05pm – A break! Time to eat. I dig into a massive pile of chili and take off my shoes while filing my workouts from the morning in my desk and organizing the next 5 programs in succession on my clipboard.

How You Can Prepare for Everything

Here’s what you need to have in your desk and why

1. Snacks for Your Clients

Fast absorbing sugars and protein powder are the best snacks. Clients often come in malnourished and having quick absorbing food to ensure that don’t get sick during the workout comes in handy. I also like to have post-workout food handy to help my clients recover and get on with their day.

2. Snacks for You

Mixed nuts, calorie dense bars, and super shakes work wonders. Super shakes contain 1 healthy fat, 1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, and 1 topper and will keep you energized on the floor. (Pro-tip: Blend well. Nobody likes training with somebody who have chunks of spinach stuck in their teeth.) BCAA’s are also great to add to water as they give you a quick energy boost and are anti-catabolic.

3. Client Files

I suggest having all of your client workouts in two formats: Hard copy and soft copy. Have an electronic copy on your computer and instruct your receptionist on how to find a client program. Clients will come in and forget their programs. Having all previously completely programs on hand is also nice to refer back to in order to show progression.

4. Injury File

Keep articles on every injury you come across in a file in your desk laying out the condition and strengthening protocols.

If you come across a new condition, add the research to your file. This way you can quickly provide existing and prospective clients with take-aways. It’s particularly handy when clients tells you about a friend suffering from “x” condition.

Always attach your personal contact info to the take-away. Build your file by adding info anytime you do research on a condition. When you come across a good resource, print out a copy and add it to your physical file and keep an electronic copy on your computer. Upon handing out something to a client, make a note on your “remember notepad” to print out another copy and replace the hard copy at the end of your shift.

5. Business Cards

Get them made and give them to everybody.

6. Caffeine Pills

Nobody likes your coffee breath and sipping coffee on the floor is #65 on our list of the 101 Personal Trainer Mistakes (follow the link to download the book free). 100mg caffeine will give you a nice burst of energy without the stinky breath, just don’t take too many.

7. Toys

A client gave me Gumby and Pokey dolls. It stemmed from a joke about me stretching her into gumby. These dolls sat on my desk ever since. I love them and they make me smile … except when I find that another trainer put them in a compromising position.

Have something on your desk that makes you smile.

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8. Gum or Breath Mints

Nobody likes your natural breath.

9. Sponges

For your clients who complain their hands hurt.

10. Fat gripz

A great tool. Throw these onto a bar or dumbbell to change the activation pattern and increase the grip challenge. It’s a nice way to add progression to an exercise and add a new challenge to a client.

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11. Plate mates

4 1.25lbs magnet weights that allow you to create in between dumbbells for micro-progression. These are especially valuable for female clients as 5lbs can be a huge jump.

12. “Remember” notepad

Keep a piece of paper on the back of your clipboard and write down anything you may need to refer to afterwards.

This could include notes about ‘surprise’ emails to send to clients, leads on new clients, restaurant advice from clients, replacing a document from your file, or that pretty girl’s phone number.

13. Package for new leads

Have packages ready that look like a gift certificate to hand to potential clients. Make sure to have your business card stapled to it and include whatever offer you like (3 free sessions etc.).

Being prepared goes beyond programming. The best of the best don’t deal with issues on the fly. They prepare their desk to be ready for anything.

Suggested Further Reading

Personal Trainers Shouldn’t Periodize

How do I Get More Personal Training Clients?

Gym Etiquette: Teaching Respect for the No Lift Zone

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About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

Jonathan Goodman is the creator and head coach of the PTDC and has a distaste for third person bios ... Hey, I'm Jon and I'd have to say that this site is pretty awesome. Thanks for being here. If you're interested in my brand new book, it's called Ignite the Fire (revised, updated, and expanded). My team and I have also created the first Academy and certification for online trainers. Click here to check out the Online Trainer Academy.