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When Training Goes Stale

A common personal trainer complaint is “burn out.” You recognize the symptoms when suddenly, without warning, you see a once zealous trainer become run down and less than accommodating to his or her clients. The trainer's cancellations increase, and his or her ability and willingness to take on new clients decreases. Are these telltale signs that your trainer's sessions are becoming less than productive? What can you, as a club manager or owner, do to prevent sessions from going stale so that all parties involved can be successful?

  • Monitor trainers training time

    I have a rule in my studio that no trainer works with more than 30 clients per week. Let's face it, if your trainers are training eight to 10 clients a day, the last two or three clients will be getting the short end of the stick, so to speak. That does not bode well for member retention. Even though your trainer may like the paychecks he or she is receiving, the honeymoon will end and you'll find yourself with a trainer that is tired and less than enthused about client success. Once that happens, not only might you lose a trainer, but you may also lose a client.

  • Maintain balance

    In order to keep my staff fresh and focused, I suggest they adopt what I call a work/life balance. I remind my trainers of my 10/1 rule. For every 10 hours of work, I encourage one hour of personal time. In other words, your trainer needs to learn the value of personal and professional balance. It's really not my business what he or she does during that personal hour; I simply emphasize the value of the philosophy. When your trainers are balanced, it is reflected in their training, their attitude and their overall performance.

  • Trainer tutor

    This is another great way to keep things fresh and help trainers avoid burnout. This valuable process allows your trainers to share their unique training ideas with one another in a friendly, unintimidating environment. Once a month, my trainers sign up to “train” a fellow trainer. At the next staff meeting, they report what they learned in their session. Not only do trainers gain additional knowledge, but they also have an opportunity to get to know the style and personality of other trainers. I promise that you'll notice an enhanced synergy among your staff. It's a given that when a staff works well together, the organization can produce some pretty impressive results.

  • Client assessment

    I find regular client assessments a key factor in helping trainers maintain enthusiasm in their training sessions. In my studio it is mandatory that trainers assess their clients every 12 to 14 weeks. The assessment process is valuable because it keeps clients focused on their goals and moving forward. When a client's cancellations are increasing, the first question I ask is, “When was her last assessment?” Generally, the answer is, “I don't know.”

    Regular assessments are vital to the client's motivation level and for giving the trainer direction. Not only will the assessment allow the client to appreciate his or her success, it's an opportunity for your training staff to teach clients the value of regular goal setting. If clients aren't clear about what they want to accomplish, it makes for less than productive training sessions, which will eventually result in lost revenues. So, make it a rule of thumb to check client files to ensure clients are being reassessed, as well as setting new goals every 12 to 16 weeks. This will keep the trainer and the client excited about the outcome of their sessions.

  • A successful staff

    A successful staff creates successful clientele and nothing affects a business more positively than a staff that works well together. I strongly encourage you to have quarterly team-building meetings with your staff. Visit Crisp Learning at, which offers a large selection of books and tools for team building and staff activities. You'll find another good resource for team building in books by Ed Scannell, some of which include: “Games Trainers Play,” “More Games Trainers Play” and “The Big Book of Team Building Games.” A strong team results in a strong business.

  • Rewards

    Don't forget the value of rewarding your trainers. Consider recognizing a trainer for excellent performance. Provide a reward system for increased retention or attraction. Why not create a “Wall of Fame” where each month you highlight one of your trainers? Spotlighting a trainer's talent and success will motivate him or her to continue to strive for excellence. If all your trainers are striving for excellence, you can bet your business is heading in the right direction.

Nicki Anderson is the owner of Reality Fitness Inc. in Naperville, IL and is the founder of Nicki Anderson's Real Life Weight Loss System. She is the health and fitness columnist for the Daily Herald in Chicago and author of “Reality Fitness; Inspiration for Your Health and Well-being.” Nicki presents seminars on marketing, attraction and retention with motivation for small fitness facilities. She can be reached at

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