This series on personal trainer burn out has taken on a mind of its own. Obviously Coach Michael Torres original article on time management struck a cord with quite a few people! Michael spoke about the 2/1 system to which I followed up with my Block System which I effectively put into play by working 480hrs less in a year while doubling my salary.
One of our readers, Darrel Mancini, contacted me wishing to make public his experience burning out. It led him to leave his successful training job to take on a management position. With the Peter Principle in full effect (in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence), Darrel wasn’t ready for management and has left that job to, once again, become a freelance personal trainer. After a year he is charged with building a whole new clientele.
In my upcoming book I cover the inevitable rise of a successful personal trainer to management in detail and when you should welcome the opportunity vs. when you should avoid it.
Without further ado, here’s Darrel’s story and some tips for personal trainers:[hr_shadow]
If you asked me what kind of routine I had over 4 years ago when I started out in this industry, you would have received a puzzled look, a scoff and a response of “What routine?” This is because my days were all different and my life petty much revolved around my clients from Monday to Saturday (I refused to work on Sundays).
Some days I would start as early as 5:30 and work until 10 or 11am, go home, have lunch, take a long nap, and return to the gym for 4 or 5pm take a half hour break for dinner and work until about 8:30 or sometimes as late as 9:30pm. This was a typical schedule from Monday to Thursday, I did not work late on Fridays and I did not have splits on Saturdays.
This resulted in as many as 10 scheduled clients on some days and 140 sessions per month on average. I was called crazy from everyone from friends and family, but I really wanted to be the kind of trainer that put his clients first, I did not want them to miss a session and lose momentum.
Here are some of my past bad habits that resulted:
- Wake up at different times, depending on when my first client started.
- Eat breakfast really fast, because I kept hitting the snooze alarm. I would even eat bars on days where I had really early clients.
- Long naps lasting over an hour and a half sometimes two hours.
- Always being in a rush
- Poor time management; Up late doing programs last minute
- Scheduling as many as 6 clients in a row, and as many as 10 in a day.
I believe now that this is one aspect a lot of trainers have problems dealing with and eventually quit the industry; but in reality if you have a working clientele like I had, you work when your clients don’t. Never once did I think of quitting the industry and as crazy as it sounds I kept this schedule for about 3 ½ years.
I had worked very hard and it was starting to pay off, my rate increased and I received a promotion to senior trainer. I would be lying if I was happy with my lifestyle I felt like I needed a change and more structure in my daily life which I couldn’t seem to achieve as a trainer (albeit because I never truly made it a priority).
I took a job as a fitness manager, which seemed like a great progression in my career, I would still get to train, but would have a more structured day. Finally I was able to build a proper routine, and when I did I felt better, ate better (no longer on the go) and I achieved more throughout the day. It really came down to how I started my day, my morning routine was very structured, and I did it consistently. Here is what it looked like:
- 6:45-Wake up, take a shower and put on Sports Centre, then make breakfast
- Usually scrambled eggs, sprouted grain toast with jam, green tea and yogurt
- I would take my time, catch up on scores from the previous day and plan my day. I would get my phone out, see what appointments I had, and figure out times to plan for sessions or meetings and made a list of what I wanted to accomplish that day.
- Prepare lunch
Other changes I made:
- Scheduled more “me” time after work
- Did not do work before going to bed, instead I relaxed and read a fictional book to help me relax and get to sleep better.
- Worked out at same time everyday (actually every other day)
This routine really worked for me, I was never rushed in addition to being very organized for the day.Recently I decided that management really isn’t for me and have decided to go back to work as a personal trainer. So now for the first time in over 3 years <em>I’m confronted with building another clientele</em>, but I’ve learned my lesson! I am going to keep my morning routine but; my daily routine would change because no schedule is set in stone. Some changes will be:
- I no longer will be doing really early mornings because… I don’t like them.
- I also will be taking a short nap that last an hour max. This way I don’t fall into a full REM cycle; I will wake up more refreshed and rejuvenated. This will also give me more time in the afternoon for bettering myself as a trainer and work on programs.
- Max 2 clients in a row, and place half hour breaks to prepare for next clients.
- Work less! Because my rate is much higher now, I can afford to work less and make more. I only plan on working a 30-hour work week (on average).
Tips on building your routine:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday
- Take your time in the morning; how your day starts dictates how the rest will end up. Wake up a little earlier and take your time, have a hearty breakfast, plan your day, read the newspaper ect.
- If you have a long day, take a nap! Limit it to no longer than an hour. Naps that are as long as 90min and 120min typically fall into a full REM cycle. Taking a nap that falls short of a full cycle will result in feeling more refreshed and will give you energy for evening clients without making you feel like you did not get a good nights sleep.
- Schedule “Me” time. This could be anything, not work related. Conversely schedule time for programming and bettering yourself as a trainer, make this a priority, especially early on in your career. No one knows everything; no matter how much school you have attended. I know trainers graduate degrees that still strive to continue professional education
- Workouts; since gyms are typically slow in the early afternoon this is the perfect time to workout without risking a client conflict. Conversely, you can do them before or after clients, it’s more important that you choose a time that you can do regularly.
- Make a list of what you want to accomplish each day, and make it a priority to accomplish everything on the list.
Darrel has been in the fitness industry for over 4 years and worked in various club atmospheres from commercial to boutique. He currently works as a freelance trainer in Toronto, Ontario.