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7 Productivity Tips for Trainers

If you’ve been in the fitness industry long enough, you should know it’s not as glamorous as some may think. A lot of my friends and family initially thought the training world was filled w/ jokes, hanging out in your PJ’s, and shooting the sh** w/ your clients all day. Don’t get me wrong; a good chunk of my day is just that. However, if that’s all I did each day, I would have a tough time getting new business, keeping the current clients I have, or having a personal life whatsoever.

I spend the first 4-5 years of my career with terrible hours, little to no-money, and absolutely zero personal life outside of the traveling I did for continued education seminars and events. If you’re looking for longevity in this field, you need to figure out how to make the trainer lifestyle sustainable. Staying productive throughout the day is one of the key factors into making a lifestyle you dream of a reality.

Nobody ever hit massive goals and aspirations by sitting on their butt. The ability to block out distractions, staying productive throughout the day, and narrowing your focus are all key steps in improving what you can or can’t accomplish each day. With that in mind, let me give you my top five productivity tips that have helped me own multiple businesses at the same time and churn a profit in the process.

  1. Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail

I use this saying all the time when it comes to clients and their piss poor efforts at eating a clean diet, showing up for a workout, and making excuses for why they’re not achieving their goals. Planning out your calendar, laying out your pre-determined obstacles, and creating structure in your day, week, month, and year is step number one in hitting goals and staying productive.

After you’ve taken the time to reflect on some good, SMART goals, planning a timeline for their success and determining the necessary actions that are needed to accomplish said task/goal is vital. Without this step, you’d simply be winging it day-by-day in hopes that you’re moving closer to your goal. Do you think most fortune 500 companies got to their level of success by sitting back and hoping each day moved them closer to their goals. I highly doubt it.

I’m sure they did something similar to me. Each night, before I go to bed, I start to review and fill my calendar for the next day. Each and every day, I’m sure about 20 percent of your actions lead to 80 percent of the outcomes. Pareto’s law, also known as the 80/20 rule, helps me identify what HAS to be done versus what NEEDS to be done. Each and every task does not have the same importance or value. As you begin to fill your calendar, start to think about Pareto’s law and start weighing the importance of each task on the never-ending to-do list. Take care of the tasks that lead to the greatest impact first. Don’t fiddle around with cleaning out your inbox, doing a mindless task, or knocking off something that only leads to that 20 percent.

Prioritize! Each day I start with at least two tasks I’d like to complete for the end of the day. With proper planning and spending 5-10 minutes the night before, you’ll be able to accomplish the MAJOR tasks on your list and have each day moving you closer to your goal versus staying put…or even worse…moving further away from the desired outcome.

  1. Eliminate Distractions – “Blackout Mode”

In this day in age, it’s pretty tough to block out all the distractions in the world. We are constantly bombarded w/ stimulus that pulls our attention from what we’re doing. Texts, emails, television, and other advances in technology have made a high amount of stimulus the norm. It WILL be the norm for you as well, unless you do something about it.

Years ago, I decided to take off all notifications on my phone, minus texts. No more Facebook updates chiming in, no more emails making my phone buzz or ding constantly, no more notifications were allowed to interrupt my focus. This was an awesome sense of relief. After a few days, I finally started to feel the freedom of not being a slave to the phone or other constant stimulus blocking my focus.

This is what I call “blackout mode.” When I go into blackout mode, I turn my phone on airplane mode to block out all phone distractions. I lock myself in my office and block out as many distractions as possible. When I’m completing the important tasks for the day that are moving me closer to my goal, I typically want to reduce the amount of stimulus that enters my senses. I want to be laser focused. Something as simple as putting in some headphones, locking yourself in an office or visiting a coffee shop to change scenery, putting your phone on airplane mode, and turning on some quiet music that helps block out all other noises and distraction can drastically increase your overall quality and output of the work you’re doing. Give it a shot, ignore as many distractions as possible, and take your productivity to a whole new level.

  1. Eliminate > Automate > Delegate

This one I got from Tim Ferriss and the Four Hour Workweek. I love the concepts of this book. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. The ideas of this book are to eliminate useless, monotonous work, that will surely slow you down, steal your attention, and let you forget what life is all about. Life is all about people, relationships, and experiences. Tim does a great job of freeing your mind from traditional thinking about career and life.

In order to completely take control of your life, you’re probably going to have to get some of the tasks you do regularly eliminated from your life permanently. If you’re just starting out, this may not be an option from day one; however, if you don’t lose sight, you evaluate the importance of each task, you create simple systems to get those tasks done, and you hire a team of competent people around you, you too can achieve a lifestyle many will be envious of.

Goal number one is to eliminate all wasted efforts or tasks that pull your focus, chew your time, but only produce a portion of your overall results. Going back to the 80/20 rule, try to eliminate tasks that chew up time and energy, but only drive 20 percent of revenue, time, or effort. Test it out. Find a task that can potentially be eliminated. More often than not, the changes will make no effect on your overall production or results. After you eliminate what’s possible, the next step would be to automate as much as possible. Try to find online services that can automate tasks. I currently use autoresponders for immediate response to someone that shows interest, I’ve set up Google Ads before to help market for me while I sleep, I use EFT to collect all of the payments from my clients to automate billpay, and I also do several other things that enhance productivity, but are completely automatic after the initial set up. Finally, delegation is the last step of creating ultimate freedom without sacrificing results. If you find the right people to do the things you don’t like to do, things that aren’t necessarily in your wheelhouse, or things that you just can’t keep up with, you’ll take your productivity to an all new high.

  1. Chunking or Batching Related Tasks Together

This one should really go with #3. This is really the final step in my process with getting sh** done. A few times a year, I’ll start to list out the activities I’ve been doing on a regular basis. After I get a good laundry list of tasks that are my responsibility, I do an audit. Can I eliminate this task with minimal repercussions? Can I use technology to help me put this task on automation? Can I use someone in my network to get this done to open up more time? Can someone else do this job much quicker, and probably better (web design, accounting, product fulfillment, etc…)? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it’s time to start game planning.

First, follow the step above and get as much of the things off your plate as possible without moving you away from the end goal. After you’ve done that, you should be left with a list of responsibilities you still need to do on a regular basis. I use this list and start batching or chunking similar tasks together. Being a major focus within a couple businesses and managing multiple people, my time and effectiveness is vital to the team and overall success we’re going to have. When I’m in my planning mode (#1), I batch computer tasks with other computer tasks. I batch emails, writing, video editing, uploading blogs, and all computer tasks together. It’s a lot easier to move from writing to emails than it is to move from writing to teaching an intern something about a dysfunctional straight leg raise. I chunk and batch my gym activities. I devote a couple days specifically for one business versus the other. I chunk my time together to help improve productivity. This works like a charm if you apply it.

  1. Monitor Progress Constantly

Are you moving closer to your goal? Or further away? You should do an evaluation of your time on a regular basis. Whatever task you’re doing, you should ask yourself, “Is this moving me closer to my goal?” If the answer is no, stop immediately, re-focus, and get moving on a task that will. Time is the only thing we have in life, so we need to embrace it. Use your time wisely and put more efforts into what’s working versus spinning your wheels and wasting time on efforts that produce minimal results. If it doesn’t fall within that top 20% find a way to ditch it. Use that time to focus on improving the 20% instead of trying to do it all. You won’t know this until you evaluate.

Run a report on your big spending clients. Take care of them. Do the things necessary to find more people just like that. Don’t waste your time on the things that chew up your time, create stress and hassle, but don’t produce much towards to end result. Eliminating those things and doubling your efforts on what’s working is a sure fire way to enhance productivity.

  1. Stay Current w/ Technology

I’m going to keep this one short. Technology is advancing on a daily basis. We live in a world where computers are outdated within weeks or months and technology advances happen at lighting speed. This is awesome if you’re willing to stay up to date. I have technology sync my calendars to eliminate time on scheduling and messing around w/ my calendar. I have filters in my email that help sort important email and batch things together to help make sorting a breeze. I use Evernote to take notes, snap pictures for later reference, create to-do lists, and a bunch of other tasks. I call it my elephant brain (their logo is an elephant head 🙂 It syncs with my phone and computer automatically, so if I’m on the road 500 miles away from home, I can take notes and get things done without having to worry about the accessibility of the info. It’s all automatic. Technology is great. Stay current or you’ll soon fall behind and reduce the output you can do without losing your sanity.

  1. Exercise Regularly!

Since my audience here is coaches, therapists, and trainers, this one should be a no-brainer. Exercise is important. Sure, it takes time out of your day and sometimes feels like you’re killing your output to squeeze in a workout. This is definitely the wrong mentality. Getting in a workout and taking care of yourself will actually improve your overall output. After exercise, you’ll be able to think more clearly, you’ll have more energy to get things done, and you’ll reap the rewards for the minimal time spent on taking care of your body. Don’t be like a client that sits back and makes excuses about being too busy to workout. Make it a priority, even during periods of intensity and pressure. You’ll get more done, you’ll feel much better, and you’ll be practicing what you preach instead of being a big, fat hypocrite.

If you want to master your schedule and get the most out of your time, you’re going to need systems. Don’t re-create the wheel. Take a system that’s been done before and learn to replicate it to re-produce the results in your favor. That’s working smarter versus working harder.

Depending on where you’re at currently, group training may be the best way to master your time. You’ll be able to reach more people in less time. If you use a system like Smart Group Training, you’ll be able to take a done-for-you system and plug and play it in your own training business. Check out Group Training University for more help. We helped co-create this product, and if you follow the systems in the product, you’ll be managing your time well and improving your profit for each hour worked. Check it out!




Progress Tracking and Goal Setting in Group Fitness Training

I’m proud of the way we train our groups.

I know that we do a great job of getting health history, workout history, goals, FMS, designing a program, and implementing workouts that have amazing exercise selection and beautiful form. The screening and training process is spot on.


There is a part of our large group training that keeps me up at night. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I don’t think about ways to easily improve the thing that certain people need the most from a personal trainer, accountability.

Obviously, the biggest issue with group fitness training is that with more people working with a fitness pro, each client gets less personal attention during the training session. With private personal training, I can use time during the training session to ask my client questions, educate him or her, talk about nutrition, etc. With a group of more than 3 or 4 it gets harder, and even harder with groups of 20.

I know that working with a fitness pro should be more than just great workouts. I know people need things like:

  • Progress Tracking
  • Regular Goal Setting
  • Education
  • Accountability
  • Coaching

CFR Progress Tracker Sheet

I know that since it’s impossible to easily do this when your client load gets high you need to have great systems to make sure you can keep up with all of your clients needs. Honestly, we have some pretty great systems at Complete Fitness Results. Currently, and in the past, we have done things like:

Members Only Websites – We have had sites that have off day workouts, educational materials, recipes and more. We got away from it when we started focusing more on facebook groups, but this is something I want to revisit.

Educational Workshops – We still do these, but not as much as we should. This is a great way to educate many clients at once and have a chance to talk shop before and after.

Check in Calls – We suck at this, period. It’s tough with 300 clients, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done. You just more voicemails than anything, and sometimes calling people can be very inconvenient for them.

Off Day Workouts – You have to make sure people are taken care of with a plan when they aren’t in you gym.

Client Events – BBQ’s, Trivia Night, Pumpkin Workouts, Tasting Events, etc. This is a great way to spend some time with your clients without being in “coach mode”.

Blog Posts and Handouts – I feel this is a necessity to make sure you are educating your clients. Write blogs and have a newsletter, and print those out and hand the out after workouts.

Goal Board – This idea didn’t really work for us. We made a big board with people names and told them daily to write their goal on it before or after class. About 10% of our clients actually did it. They don’t have goals. This is the problem!

Challenge of the Week – This is something we would ask our clients to do outside of the gym in order to learn or experience something new that could possibly help them grow.

Education Lessons in Class – You’re not just a coach you are a teacher. Use the time when teaching a class to do more than just yell “good job!”, and tell some stories that have a point.


Our Current Solution

Although we still do quite a few of the things I mentioned above, I know we need to do more. Here are some thing we are recently added in the last few months.

Results + Program – What really pisses me off is racking my brain trying do all of this extra stuff for people that don’t even give a shit. That is why I’m going to start charging people a small fee of $50 per month to join our Results+ program. If you are in the program we know that you want more attention, if you aren’t, it means that you at the gym for great workouts only. I don’t know if this will be a profit center, but it do know that it will allow us to do a better job with the people that need it, and at least be able to identify who want a check in call or who will be annoyed by it. This program includes:

  • One Monthly Small Group Nutrition and Accountability Session
  • One Monthly Check in Call or Email
  • Unlimited Email Support with a Wellness Coach
  • Access to our Online Results+ Support Group
  • Weekly Nutrition Lesson via Email
  • A Little Extra Attention from our Training Team

This program starts in a few weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Leader Board – This is for our competitive people or people that don’t have aesthetic goals. Personally, I’ve wanted to do this for years, and I’m so glad that we finally have one!

CFR Leader Board

Daily Recall – Just having our clients fill out a recall sheet has been huge. We are now starting to get in the habit of having our semi private clients fill out a recall sheet before each workout. That way we at least have a glimpse of what they are eating, how much water they are drinking, and how much sleep they are getting. It also makes them stop and think, which sometimes can be the only time they actually think about what they have been doing.

Progress Tracking – A lot of the same things that are on our leader board we track in our client’s files. We pick 3-5 indicators to use to track clients to make sure we know they are progressing. We make sure we do progress checking at least monthly. This includes body comp and FMS, all the way to performance tests like vertical jump and 20 yard dash.


I know this is decent system, but I still feel that people will fall through the cracks. I know people will always fall through the cracks at times, but those are the clients that keep me up at night. Not the assholes that complain about everything, but the people that need more help than we have time to give. I know I could help, but there is just too many people.

That’s why I am genuinely asking for your help. For my clients and the clients of everyone reading this post. Smart Group Training is more than Jared and I telling people that we are smart and cool. It’s about finding what works in group training better than what we were doing before and sharing it with everyone possible in order to make the group fitness training industry better. To help make people better. To help make the world just a little bit better.

So please share! What are you doing to help bridge the gap between private personal training and group personal training in the world of goal setting, progress tracking and accountability. Lets do this together! What works for you? Please share below.

My personal favorite idea will get a free SGT product of your choice, AND the feeling of helping make the industry better. And that will help me sleep at night.


– Steve Long CPT, FMS, TPI

Three Things I Wish I Knew Early in my Training Career

Every once in awhile, I like to write about failures, successes, and other variables that have gotten me to where I am today.  Becoming a great coach doesn’t come easy.  I’ve spent thousands of hours coaching clients, reading books, watching educational videos, traveling the country to see the best gyms and how they operate, and have dedicated my life to being great at what I do.  In this piece, I want to share my top three things that have made me a better coach and have improved my results DRAMATICALLY!

If you’re reading this article, hopefully you’ll get a couple takeaways and improve your own personal skills as a coach, trainer, or therapist.  Each one of the three highlights will require more research to fully understand them, but as I tell each new hire or new intern coming in to work at our facilities, understanding these three things and how to incorporate them into your training will make you better almost instantaneously.  Take these three tips and run with them.  I promise you will not be disappointed with your results.