Let’s say the Monday to Friday cycle never appealed to you. That’s why you chose this career. That’s why you chose this style of living. That’s why you chose this freedom.
You wake up one day with the sudden urge to see the world. You want to hike the mountains of Jungfrau, party on a desert island, indulge in all the different flavors that the world has to offer.
Yet you feel trapped. You feel destined to stay where you are on account of it being seemingly impossible to leave your business for any longer than the six or so days you take off every year around Christmas and New Years.
You’ve heard about the passive income method. Perhaps you’ve already achieved this. But what if you want to travel for an extended period of time, and then return to your business and your clients? Is this even achievable?
I may not be an expert, but after two rather lengthy trips over the past 18 months and another one in the works, I’ve realized that keeping a business afloat as an online fitness coach and still alive upon return is actually quite simple.
All it takes is a few simple steps put into play that will set you and your clients up, no matter the time frame you’re considering embarking for.
The Road That Should Definitely Be Taken
Like I mentioned above, passive income is a great thing to accomplish if you lust to see world, but it’s not the only answer. After all, what about the relationships you’ve built with your clients? What about the loyalty and respect they’ve shown you? What about the enjoyment you get for being there in-person when they crush a new goal?
Passive income is one thing, but keeping the rapport you’ve gained with them – along with the platinum standard service and results that has come about from your dedication to your art, your work, your studies, and your clients – is another feat all together.
If your head is truly in the game, the last thing you want is to find out that half of them “fell off the bandwagon” and reverted to their old habits and inconsistent behavior whilst you were away.
Of course most of the time, your clients will and should understand that you want to be able to see the world, and be completely supportive of it. But there are always those clients that will freak out and think that you’re severing all ties and jumping ship.
You and they can have peace of mind, however, and it all begins with seven simple steps.
Step 1: Notify Them!
No one wants to wake up at 5am for a 6am session, only to find out upon arrival to the gym that you’ve upped and left and forgot to tell anyone about it.You may laugh at this ridiculous circumstance, but I’ve seen it before, and you definitely don’t want to be that person. Especially if you’re planning to return to that gym and train those same clients again.
Always strive to give all parties involved in your business ample warning. Including, first and foremost, your beloved clients, your manager or boss (if you work as a subcontractor), your business partner/s or colleagues, and anyone else involved in your business.
You want to make sure that you leave no one in the dark about your departure, how long you’re planning to be away for, what your rough blueprint of your trip looks like, and when you’re expecting to be back in the country.
After all, it’s not only your business, but your reputation and livelihood, too.
Step 2: Programming
While you may certainly have some clients that need a highly specialized and specifically designed program for a certain definite goal that they want to reach whilst you’re away or close to your return, not all will.
A lot of the time, most clients can fall into four main categories: fat loss and toning clients, building strength/size clients, sports specific clients, and rehab clients.
Of course you want to make sure that you offer each of them a completely specialized and specifically-designed program, but you don’t want to have to write weeks of programs that they may not even adhere to while you’re gone. Not to mention the reality that you can’t adjust the program on the fly like you typically can when you’re actively assessing them each session.
But by writing 4, 8, and 12 week template programs that cater to the major categories that your clients fall into, you can adjust things dependent upon training age, experience, intensity, and regressions/progressions.
This process will not only ensure that you’re not adding excessive hours to your day, but that you cater for everyone.
Step 2.5: Programs For Sale
Don’t be afraid to charge for the programs that you’ve spent time designing. Like Jonathan Goodman always preaches, your time and experience is the service that your clients are paying you for, not the reps that you can count at them, or the fancy new exercise that you learned.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you charge, but don’t downgrade your regular rate on account of being the one that’s leaving them.
Adding to this, some of your clients may be able fall into programs that other trainers are doing with their group/semi-private training clients, and might not need or want a program. Which brings me to my next step.
Step 3: Safe Hands
This is an obvious one, but your first step before flying away is to ensure that each of your clients is linked up with a trainer/coach that you respect and that promotes similar methods and approaches to training as you do.
Leaving them in safe hands whilst you party and sight see your way through Europe also increases the odds of them sticking to their current regime and not lose precious momentum.
You may find that your clients will want to stay with the trainer that you set them up with before you left, but don’t be afraid of this. In the off chance that this does arise, be positive and supportive of the decision. It’s their life, and perhaps they prefer the other trainers style or have achieved results that they have been longing for whilst you were away.
You never want to be the negative person when it comes to people changing their lives. Besides, being negative towards your ex-clients or the trainer that supposedly “stole” them will only make things awkward every time you cross paths in the gym.
Be happy that someone was able to finally help them, and perhaps reassess your style or approach in the future.
Step 4: Check In
Now this step may not be completely necessary, and it really does come down to the length of time you’re planning to be away from your business.
Regardless, this small gesture literally only takes five minutes and shows your clients that you actually care about them.
For instance, let’s say you’re embarking for two months. Checking in with your clients once every 3-4 weeks with a very brief email wishing them well and letting them know where you are is a nice gesture that keeps the relationship you’ve formed with them strong.
You’ve no doubt set boundaries with your clients with when and when not to contact you, so they should understand that you’re not always there for every single issue that arises. And if you want to go the extra mile, why not set up a go-to person that they can use while you’re away?
Step 5: Arrival Notification
Keep your clients and the trainer/s that are looking after them updated with your movements. Even if your trip is planned right down to a T, it’s still a good idea to keep everyone notified – and reminded – of your expected return date.
You never know, you may decide to add more days to your trip, or a volcano may keep all planes in your vicinity grounded. Whatever the situation, it’s always best to make sure that the same party you let know before leaving, stays up to date with your whereabouts.
Step 6: Be Ready for a Culture Hit
After traveling abroad for a longer time than your average 13-day vacation, readjusting to life back home is a strange thing. While not all will agree, it’s a huge culture and lifestyle shift after seeing so much.
Understand that it will take a little time to adjust to all of it, and don’t fret. As you’ll see, the experiences that you’ve learnt by spending time abroad will bleed out into all areas of your life. And once you pass the initial shock, you’ll be better off for it.
Step 7: Document It
This is really a bonus step, but if you can, consider documenting your travels. Whether that’s during your journey on board a long bus/train ride, or chilling out overlooking a vista, why not write about some of the things you learn or experience on the way?
Post something on your Facebook business page or blog, write an email to your clients telling them about something that blew your mind or gave you some new perspective. Why not even shoot a small video with you training in an alternative location to show them that you are keeping up with the lifestyle you lead back home whilst abroad?
It shouldn’t take you away from immersing yourself in the experience of being overseas, but rather amplify all of it whilst also providing you with insight into what you’ve been doing.
Of course this step isn’t dire, but it sure is a great addition to the other six steps that can help ensure your business doesn’t die off while you’re gone, and will continue to grow and prosper upon your return. And beyond.