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What's in my desk?

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

Training 11 clients in a row is difficult but having a well-organized metaphorical desk makes it reasonable and productive.

A Typical Wednesday

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 omelette with spinach and cheese and apple aren’t cutting it.

12:20pm – My client complains during farmer’s walks that the roughness of the dumbbell is bothering their 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 they have 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 they’re still progressing.

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

11 clients in a day!

This isn’t abnormal for me. I’ve been training 8-12 clients in a day for 4 years now. I get home and fall asleep faster than Santa Claus on December 26th but still give my clients amazing service.

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The whole world in one night! Dude must be zonked

Trainers I work with complain that they can’t train more than 3 clients in a row. They plan 30min holes throughout the day to “recover” and spend 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  while writing a book and running an awesome website.

Let’s revisit the timeline above (which is actually my Wednesday last week). 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!

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 – I take out an article on patella tendonitis from my file in my desk, paperclip my business card to it, and hand it to the client to take with them. This article gives the potential client information on the condition and the strengthening protocols.

11:01am – I take out a meal-replacement 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 – I take out thick sponges from my desk for my client to protect his hands. I’m happy because the sponges make the grip thicker and increase the grip challenge. My client’s happy because his hands are protected.

1:01 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

What you should have in your desk and why

1. Snacks for your clients – Fast absorbing sugars and protein powder. 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 me – 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 me a quick energy boost and are anti-catabolic.

3. Client files

4. Injury file – I keep articles on every injury I come across in a file in my desk laying out the condition and strengthening protocols. If I come across a new condition I add the research to my file. This way I can quickly provide existing and prospective clients with take-aways. It’s particularly handy when my client tells me about a friend suffering from “x” condition. I always attach my personal contact info to the take-away. Build your file by adding info anytime you do research on a condition. If you give away an article make sure to replace it.

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)

7. Toys – 2 years ago my client gave me Gumby and Pokey dolls. It stemmed from a joke about me stretching her into gumby. These dolls have 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. You need to disconnect sometimes — even for a minute.

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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.

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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 – 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 etc.

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.


Do you have any suggestions for training long days?

Follow up reading from thePTDC

Personal Trainers Shouldn’t Periodize

How do I Get More Personal Training Clients?

Gym Etiquette: Teaching Respect for the No Lift Zone

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.