Now I must admit I’m still not the best at this! There are weeks when I work non stop (60-80 hours!) and am forever chasing my tale!
But that said over the past 5 years of running my personal training business ‘LEP Fitness’ I have managed to get a pretty good work life balance (well…80% of the time!)
My intention for writing this post is to help those personal trainers out there who are tired of running themselves into the ground and want more of a work/life balance …
I know exactly what it’s like looking after a bunch of clients, not only have you got the 1-1 sessions, but you’ve also got the meal plans, workout plans, e-mails/txts in between sessions, accounts, content creation, travel time, etc, etc! And that’s literally just scratching the surface.
Being a PT can totally consume your world and if you’re not careful you end up burnt out and totally hating life!
When my business really took off about 4 years ago, I remember working every hour god gave. I was doing 60 sessions a week, I had no spare time, and when I did… I was either writing workout/meal plans or trying to catch up on sleep! I had no time for the gym, was living off coffee and energy drinks, I barely saw my friends, family or even my fiancé! Life sucked.
Long story short, after 6 months of being totally burnt out I re-structured my business and over time have developed a much healthier work/life balance.
I want to stop other PT’s from making the mistakes I made, so here are some words of wisdom and guidance (I only wish i’d done these sooner!)…
The Two Main Fears Of A Personal Trainer…
Before we go into building a positive work/life balance, lets look at the 2 main fears of all personal trainers. Put simply they are CLIENTS & MONEY.
CLIENTS – In order to build your business you need to get results with clients, to help them and also to build up a positive reputation for your business. You need to be able to attract new customers and also to keep your current clients happy – so that they renew their sessions. Without clients you don’t have a business, which brings me onto my next point…
MONEY – You need clients to pay you, so you can put a roof over your head, and food on the table! Without enough money in the bank you will suffer and like many PT’s out there will struggle to make a living and eventually quit.
Now we are aware of the underlying fears, let’s take a look at how you can run a successful business that keeps customers happy, earns you a good living but doesn’t leave you chasing your tale and feeling burnt out all of the time…
# 1 Work Less & Charge More…
One of the things I did was increase my prices by £10 per session. I was advised to do this from my mentor at the time. Initially I was very scared that clients wouldn’t be willing to pay more, but I was pleasantly surprised when nobody even battered an eye lid!
I also decided to slowly decrease the number of sessions I was doing each week from 50/60 per week, to 30. This took me about 8 months to fully achieve. I decided that I was working with too many people (juggling too many balls so to speak!) and that I needed to work more on quality rather than quantity.
I used to find it really hard to say “NO” to people, because I didn’t like letting people down and also because when you are self-employed it’s easy to fear that business will dry up! so you take on everyone and anyone!
It’s crazy when you think about it! I was living in fear and I realised that whilst I may have to take a pay cut, and have to say NO more often… the quality of my life would be much better.
The other thing I did was cut my days down from 6 days per week, to 5, and now I only do 4 days per week! Crazy right?
Again I was scared but figured that 30 sessions over 4 days would be much more feasible (7/8 clients per day) and I could spend my spare time ‘working on the business’ rather than in it all the time!
Increasing my prices, doing less sessions and working 4 days per week made a humongous difference to creating a healthy work/life balance.
#2 Set Up Passive Income Streams…
Another thing i’ve done over the last couple of years is create products that can be sold without constant man hours. For example with 1-1 personal training you are charging people for your time, and there’s a limit to how many hours you can work each week.
When you reach maximum capacity, let’s say 30 sessions per week, the only way you can increase your earnings is to charge more! There’s a glass ceiling as to what people will pay and that means the growth of your business stagnates.
One of the best things you can do is create additional products to sell which compliment your PT income.
For example I have 3 e-books which i’ve created and that all help top up my earnings. Once you’ve spent time designing your e-book the product is done and you can continue to sell it without any more man hours – for more info on how to do this check out this post – HOW PERSONAL TRAINERS CAN MAKE EXTRA MONEY BY SELLING E-BOOKS ONLINE
#3 Financial Investments…
Now i’m no Alan Sugar or Dragons Den judge! but making investments can also help you with a healthy work/life balance, as over time they grow and you can work less and less. I was always taught that you should make your money work for you – read Rich Dad Poor Dad.
Although many of you reading this will be young (twenties and thirties) there will come a day when you stop being a personal trainer. Personally speaking I don’t want to be doing PT when I’m 70! In which case even though retirement feels like centuries away, it’s still good to plan ahead.
From your profits you can invest your earnings into property, stocks and shares or pensions (or a combo of each). Over time these investments will hopefully grow and then put you in a strong position for retirement.
As i’m not an expert on investments I’d recommend reaching out for help from a financial advisor.
#4 Develop Time Saving Systems…
Another aspect to focus on is improving the efficiency of your work by developing systems that save you time. For example you could do the following…
Automation – e.g. when a new client e-mails you, they are sent a message that says something like “thank you for your enquiry, we would love to help and will be in touch within 24 hours”. You could also schedule your content to go out at certain days and times. Mail chimp is good for e-mails and FB now allows you to schedule content on your business page.
Templates – with nutrition and workout plans you can create folders and templates so that you don’t have to redesign every single plan.
Cancellation Policy – write up a document and send to clients stating your terms and conditions i.e. you ask for a 24hr cancellation period, holidays, etc, etc
Client folders – each client has either a physical folder or computer file with their info i.e. workout plans, meal plans, resources, etc
The above are just some very basic example but by putting them in place you can save yourself a bunch of time.
#5 Scale Up…
One of the most obvious ways to improve your work/life balance is to hire other trainers or people to help your business. You could hire a PA, accountant or marketing specialist. Basically people to fill the roles that are required so that you can spend more time growing your business.
There’s a great book called the E-Myth which I would recommend you to read. It’s all about how to build up a small business and one of the best business books i’ve read to date.
Other avenues to consider are having your own premises and hiring rooms out or charging rent to other health practitioners e.g. chiropractor, physio, holistic therapists, etc, etc This could be a great way to supplement your income and offer your clients additional services.
#6 Online Personal Training and Meal Plans…
Typically it takes far less time to look after an online client compared to a 1-1 client. For example most online personal trainers work on a weekly check in basis. The time each online client takes to manage may only be anything from 10-20 minutes per week.
This style of business also allows you to work with people from all over the country (potentially world) and even scale you business to work with more people than your 1-1 coaching allows.
You also see a lot of trainers creating programmes for large groups of people to purchase, they then use facebook groups and provide support for clients and answer questions throughout their program. Again this can be a great way to reach more people (potentially 100 clients) and scale your business so that you work less.
There are trainers who only work 2hrs per day (using a similar approach to Facebook group idea above). Obviously to get into this position takes lots of work, but when you have systems in place, a lead generation system and have refined your product it can definitely be done.
#7 Save Some Money For A Backup
As I mentioned earlier one of the major fears that personal trainers have is MONEY.
When I first started personal training I took on everybody and anybody, because I always worried that business might dry up! I soon realised that this wasn’t the right approach and if I continued I would lead a very miserable, burnt out life!
I was living month to month and had no financial discipline. I was spending everything I earned.
But then I started to save 10-20% of everything I earned each month, to build up a back up pot of money and take off the financial pressures in case I had a bad month or something went wrong.
To improve your work/life balance make-sure to build up a back up pot of money so that you don’t have to slave away every hour of the day just to break even. Give yourself that financial reassurance.
#8 Allocate Time For Work and Chill Time
Ok, I know this is easier said than done sometimes. There are only so many hours in the day. But that said “life is short” and it’s important to factor in some down time, whether that’s going to the cinema with your partner, blasting out a gym workout, or going on a long walk, it doesn’t matter! Just make-sure to pencil in YOU time each week.
I like to do this by…
- Spending 30 minutes per day meditating and reading (15 mins each)
- Switching my phone off after 7pm every night
- Devoting a day per week to my family (son and finance)
- Watching 30-60 mins of Netflix at the end of the day
- Walking to the gym and listening to a podcast or audiobook
- Lying in on a Sunday
- Taking a warm bath 1-2x per week
Again just a few examples but make-sure to take time out, not only will you feel better, but you’ll be able to switch off and go back to work with new, creative ideas.
After all you’re a personal trainer and need to look after yourself as much as you look after your clients.
In a nutshell it really all comes down to creating a business that supports your financial needs/desires but also allows you to have time outside of your business so that you can focus on your family, hobbies and re-charge the batteries!
Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this post and it’s helped please leave your comment below. There are also plenty more blog posts to help personal trainers – check them out here.