A personal fitness trainers motivation from an unlikely source

This morning I embarked on the trip of a lifetime.  My Dad and I joined an O.A.R.S rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.  I can't help but be amazed at the preparedness of the staff.

As you can imagine the Grand Canyon is protected ecologically. Every piece of garbage, food, and even solid waste (human solid waste that is) needs to be taken out. All liquids must be inserted directly into the water. No touching the rocks (aim carefully).

The staff has gone to extreme, sometimes outrageous lengths to respect the environment while keeping it a comfortable trip for all the guests.


  • The washroom system is complex but comfortable.  Wastes are separated from each other.
  • All garbage is brought out
  • A heavy tamper was carried from campsite to campsite to flatten soda cans and a separate bucket was filled with water to throw the can in so as to separate the sugar.
  • A 4 bucket system was devised to make dish cleaning comfortable and easy.  I was told that guests complained about bending over into the river so the guides developed this system.  Bucket 1 is greasy soap, bucket 2 is clean soap, bucket 3 is bleach, and bucket 4 is rinse.

Rampant unpreparedness

Yesterday I posed the question on my Facebook page "What's your opinion of trainers who write their clients workouts 5 minutes before the session?".  (By the way, if you're not friends with me on Facebook already please add me at www.facebook.com/jonathan.goodman101).  I felt it was a good example of rampant unpreparedness from personal trainers.

Do you employ any of the following habits? If so, you're guilty of rampant unpreparedness and I challenge you to change.  By ironing out the problems below you will be the envy of your colleagues and be successful enough to pick and choose your clients. You are making a huge mistake by not fixing the problem and your clients will disappear.

  • Do you hastily write workouts 5 minutes before a client showed up?
  • Do you gather as much info as possible before meeting a potential new client
  • Do you read the proper research when dealing with a new client injury or imbalance?
  • Do you store all of your clients past workouts?
  • Do your clients come in malnourished to your workouts and get dizzy / lightheaded throughout

Setting the example for personal fitness trainers

The guides from O.A.R.S. went beyond preparation. They thought of everything (did I mention the tamper for pop cans?). I don't know about you but when I go camping I bring camp suds and bend over in the lake, crush cans with my feet, and do my business wherever and however I please.

Solving your rampant unpreparedness

By this point I hope that you're starting to see the focus of this article. Your clients and your club / place of work will have rules to follow. Here are a couple systems that you should must develop if you want to be a top notch personal fitness trainer:

1. Keep a research file on your computer

Or better yet, keep hard copies of studies and information about all the conditions you come across. This is not for your reference, it's to use as a hand out for new and existing clients. As you encounter new resources, simply add to your file.

Some examples of injuries or special circumstances that I encounter weekly are pregnancy, ACL post-rehab, labral tears, and all kind of inflammatory-type issues.

Doing this has two main benefits:

  • For potential clients you can easily give them take home material after the meeting showing them that you're well versed in dealing with their condition (attach your business card)
  • Asking your clients if they have any friends or family with special needs and providing them material to pass on(with your business card attached) is a great way to ask for a referral.  You would be amazed at how many of them call you for more info.

2.  Store all of your clients workouts

Do this preferably in soft copy form on a computer and back it up. Here are 3 reasons why:

  • Clients lose their workouts often. If, in two clicks, you can print them or email them another copy they don't lose any ground. It shows them your organised and is another way to go the extra 10%
  • Referring to old workouts helps you plan for the future. After working with your client for a while it enables you to get a taste of how they progress, the times of year that they can be consistent so you can ramp up their training, and their previous weights so you can have starting points
  • A great retention tool is looking back at old workouts with your client to show them how far they've come

3.  Keep high glycemic foods at the gym

Foods like oranges, juice, and protein powder have saved my career. To best illustrate why read the story below:

For two years I never knew how Bill was going to be when he came into the gym. Some days he was well-fed and raring to go. Other days he hadn't eaten anything since 8am (I train Bill at 4:30pm). One day when he came in malnourished I happened to have grape juice at the gym.

5 minutes into the workout he felt dizzy. We hadn't even completed the warm up. I immediately took Bill off of the floor and gave him the juice. He perked right back up and finished the workout. Afterwards I gave him another half glass of juice mixed with protein powder to go.

If you train weekend warrior types (and most trainers do) then this one trait may save your business. Keeping juices, oranges, protein powder etc. at your desk ensures that your clients are well fed when they train (if you have any better suggestions for food please email me at [email protected], I would love to hear them). I hated looking after sick clients and I'm sure you do too.

Be Prepared

Take the example of my trip leaders and devise clever systems to solve minor problems. With very little time, effort, and money you should set up an injury database, keep all workouts on file, and always have high glycemic foods at your disposal.

Show your clients that you're cut from a different cloth and enjoy the increased retention and referrals. This is just another step in gaining your client army.