Every so often, we’ll feature coaches from this great The PTDC community that are really killing it and changing lives within their world, and ask them to share cool training, business, and productivity tips and practices.
In this edition, we’re featuring Slyvon Blanco, a nomad (as in he travels to and works wherever he pleases), a self-proclaimed lifehacker, and the head honcho behind http://VonBlancoFitness.com. As an online personal trainer, Slyvon helps busy men and women how to simplify fitness for the real world. We talked to him to peer into his methods and found that he has some interesting insight to balancing travel and work at the same time. Here’s what he had to say.
Location: Chicago, Illinois. Currently “nomading” around the world.
Current position: Chief Fitness Simplifier of Von Blanco Fitness
Certifications: PN1, NSCA-CPT, Training for Warriors, and a few others
Number of years in the industry: 4
What’s the one word that describes how you approach your personal training/coaching?
What is your main training focus? For yourself and your clients?
Aesthetics and strength.
What’s your morning routine like?
This is the part where most people usually list out a few things that they supposedly do every morning, but to be quite honest, I don’t have a routine that I follow religiously.
Like Tim Ferris, I’m a night owl and find myself most productive at night when everyone else is sleeping. And because of that, I tend to wake up at different times every day.
There are a couple constants, though:
1) I shower as soon as I get up. I simply can’t go on with the rest of my day without taking a shower. It’s a habit I’ve developed since I was a kid.
2) I read through my list of to-do’s for the day that I created from the night before. The list has three things on it. No more, no less. If I complete all three things, it’s a good day. If not, I don’t go to sleep until they’re marked off.
What’s your favorite aspect about being a personal trainer?
When I was training clients in-person: knowing that I woke up every day not to go to a job that I despised, but to do my duty in helping others get better in life. It made all the 4 a.m. alarms worth it.
Now as an online personal trainer: being able to help more people in the world because of the power of the internet. Crazy to think how things have changed in just a few years.
What is your best time-saving shortcut to do better work?
I say no to everything that doesn’t move my business forward.
Nowadays, there are too many distractions that keep us from doing the things that actually matter. New social media platforms, new marketing tactics, new business opportunities, new websites to write for–yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s an endless list of things we’re supposed to do.
Every couple of weeks, I re-evaluate all the things I’m doing and ask myself if I should really be doing them. This allows me to shave off dozens of hours from spending time on useless crap that doesn’t move my business forward or provide value to my audience.
What are some of your favorite technological tools to help you stay on top of everything?
Nothing too fancy here. I use:
- Reminders: It’s the built-in to-do app on the iPhone and Mac. I’ve tried many different productivity apps, but I soon realized that the most basic ones work best for me.
- Calendar: It’s also the built-in app on the iPhone and Mac. Again, the simpler, the better.
- Asana: For task management.
- Trainerize: This is the app my clients and I use to track their workouts, calories/macros, and measurements.
- Dropbox: I have the premium version, so I pretty much have all my files saved in the cloud.
- ConvertKit: I’ve tried multiple email platforms, and this one’s my favorite. It’s got the functionality of Infusionsoft but the simplicity of Mailchimp. Sending emails, making automation sequences, and segmenting my list has never been easier.
- 1Password: To keep track of all my passwords (and I have dozens).
- Evernote: It saves all the awesome stuff I find on the internet (articles, swipe files, infographics, etc) that I want to refer to in the future.
What’s your client screen process like? How do you decide how to start writing a program or working with a client?
Right now, I only work with clients who:
- Want to spend less time in the gym (3-4 days a week max).
- Have some experience with strength training.
- Know a thing or two already about nutrition.
- Have an open mind.
If someone wants to work with me but doesn’t meet my requirements, I’m usually upfront and tell them that I’m not a good fit for them. And if I get the vibe that the person is a beginner, I actually recommend that they see a trainer at their local gym first because they’d benefit more from that.
In my opinion, no matter how beneficial it is for both the trainer and client to work together online, nothing compares to the actual in-person experience, especially for those who are just starting out.
How do you organize all of your clients and schedules?
When I trained in-person clients, I had two training blocks: one in the morning from 5 a.m. to noon and another from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. If I had a prospect who couldn’t work with me in either of those time blocks, I would not work with them.
I was very protective of my schedule because I would burn out too easily otherwise. Making the decision to train clients only four days of the week helped as well. I wanted to make sure that I was able to put aside time for my online business so I wouldn’t get burnt out.
For online clients, I now use Trainerize for pretty much everything and Dropbox to manage client files.
What are you currently reading?
First thing I read before I ever wore my red “Personal Trainer” shirt was How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Ignite the Fire -: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career (the original version) by Mr. Jon Goodman.
I can honestly say that those two books changed my life for the better.
I’m currently reading How To Be F*cking Awesome by Dan Meredith. It sounds like a book for douchebags, written by a douchebag, but it’s actually very insightful with lots of actionable advice on business and life.
What other activities or hobbies do you engage in to step away from “just being a coach?”
I play basketball, travel to new countries every month or so, and eat delicious foods. Lots of them. I’m a foodie, and eating foods from all over the world is pretty much my favorite hobby. No joke.
Your favorite quote:
There are a few that I really like, but two that I can recall from the top of my head right now:
“If you live for the weekends and vacation, your shit is broken.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
What was the best lesson you learned when you first started that now helps you out a lot?
Be transparent. People like knowing their coach is human just like them.
What have you learned recently that you wished you learned on Day One?
I learned to put most of my effort on the “minimum effective dose” (MED) that will get me 80 percent of the outcome I want. I used to do everything and anything, both with my fitness and business, and for years it caused a great deal of overwhelm, stress, and burnout. Now I focus only on the few things that actually matter, which saves me a ton of time, money, and energy.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t ever forget where you came from.” – My parents
They meant that in both a figurative and literal way. (I’m a first generation immigrant, you see.)
Turning a love of training into a successful vocation is a challenge for many coaches. Any advice?
To be blunt, if you don’t enjoy working with people, then coaching isn’t for you.
At the end of the day, fitness coaching is a people business. If you find yourself not enjoying the interactions that you have with clients and members on a daily basis, save yourself some time and get out sooner than later.
Check out these other fit pros and their tips for maximum productivity and success:
- Jonathan Goodman, founder and owner of The PTDC
- Bryan Krahn, personal trainer and writer
- Alex Cartmill, founder of The Fitness Handbook and The PTDC social media manager