Writing Effective Training Programs- Your first plan never works

You’ve meticulously planned your client’s program for the next six weeks and included exercises and training methods that will help them reach their desired goal.

You’re chomping at the bit to get started and then you spot your client struggling as they enter the door. Uh-oh, this doesn’t look good.

“ Coach, I threw my back out again while helping my wife with laundry. You know I’ve done this a million times before so I didn’t want to cancel. Anyway, we can work around it today?”

Then your head starts spinning because you’ve got no idea what to do next.

Mike Tyson once said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

This is a trainer’s punch in the mouth.

What separates the good from the great trainers is the ability to think on your feet to solve a client’s problem. You don’t just teach exercise you need to be a professional problem solver too.  


When You Need A Plan B


There are a couple of situations where you need to go off-script to keep the training session flowing and to keep your paying client happy. They are:


1.     All the Equipment is Taken- If you planned bench presses on a Monday, you might be out of luck. There is not much time to wait for equipment when your client’s session is between 30-60 minutes.


2.     Client has an injury, or an exercise variation hurts- working around an injury or pain requires you know regressions and training methods to reduce the discomfort so the client gets a training effect.


Let’s look at these two scenarios so the next time your client or the busy gym throws you a curveball, you’ll be ready.


Lack of Equipment

Let’s look at the two most popular pieces of equipment and what to do when they are not available.

Problem All the benches are taken on national chest day, otherwise known as Monday.  

Walk into any gym on a Monday and you’re probably wishing for an empty bench. We use benches for bench presses and other upper body exercises like rows, pullovers, and seated shoulder presses too

Don’t let the lack of a bench hold you back. Instead of you and your client waiting for a bench to become available do these bench-free exercises.


Barbell Floor Press



Unilateral Dumbbell Floor Press



Dumbbell Z Press



Dumbbell Pullover on Floor



Wall One Arm Row



The advantages of these exercises are

  • More core engagement
  • Don’t require a bench
  • Safer for sore shoulders
  • The floor provides the client and trainer with feedback on technique



All the barbells are taken or there is no space to train with one.

Having exercise variations that train the muscles and movements of the squat, hinge, and bench without the barbell is handy to have in your back pocket when you and your client haven’t the time to wait for a barbell. For example


Dumbbell Squat Variations



Band Elevated Split Squat



Mechanical Advantage Dumbbell Bench Press Drop Set



Decline Dumbbell Floor Press With Glute Bridge



Staggered-Stance Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift



The advantages of these exercises are

  • Trains the same muscles and movements of the squat, press, and hinge Unilateral variations help strengthen strength imbalances between sides
  • Improved core strength
  • Dumbbells are easier on the joints than barbells


The client has an injury or an exercise that hurts

Training through pain is a no-no. We are not doctors or Physical Therapists and only they can diagnose something. Although we can make guesses on the causes of their pain, we can’t make a diagnosis.  What we can do is make exercise modifications so the client can train pain-free.

Let’s look at some exercises and training methods to train around the discomfort of the knees, hips/lower back, and shoulder region.


Training Methods When Pain Is An Issue

When an exercise hurts, or the client has a non-serious injury there are three methods to use as your plan B. 


1.     Exercise Regressions


When form or technique isn’t part of the problem, dialing down a movement by reducing intensity, increasing stability, or bringing the weight closer to the working muscle can help.

For example, if a Goblet squat hurts their back/hips/knees then bringing the weight closer to their legs (Sumo squat) may solve the problem while still training the squat.

Other examples of regressing an exercise while still maintaining a training effect are

Note- this isn’t an exhaustive list, and you need to use your best judgment. The exercises below start from difficult to less difficult.




Barbell back squat-Barbell Front Squat-Dumbbell Front Squat-Goblet squat- Sumo Squat


Bulgarian Split Squats- Walking Forward lunges- Forward lunges- Reverse lunge- Splits Squats-Assisted split squats


Barbell Deadlift- Trap bar Deadlift- Rack Pulls- RDL’s- Single-Leg Deadlift- Pull Throughs- Banded Hip Thrust


Bench Press- Unilateral Dumbbell bench press- Dumbbell Bench Press-Floor press- Weighted Push Ups- Bodyweight Push Ups- Incline Push Ups


2.     Reducing Range of Motion


The process of pain is complicated, but in simple terms when the brain senses a threat (real or perceived) pain happens. And by reducing the range of motion to a pain-free one, you cut the threat and you still get to strengthen the muscles around the joint.

Hopefully, by reducing the threat, you can strengthen the muscles around the joint while reducing the client’s pain while maintaining a training effect. This proves to your client what they can do and not what they can’t.

Here are some examples


Box squats (adjust the height of the box to a pain-free range of motion)



Rack pulls (above or below the knee)



 Dumbbell Floor Press




3.     Isometrics


Isometric exercises are muscle contractions without movement. There is more to isometric exercises than just planks. These exercises help to strengthen the muscles around the painful joint without the joint having to move. Plus, isometric exercises have been shown to give short-term pain relief also. (1)

Start at 30 seconds and then work into the 1-2 minutes range depending on the client’s ability.  

Iso squat



Iso Split squats



Iso Push Ups



Iso Chin Up Hold



Iso Single Leg Hip Extension



Wrapping Up

Safety of the client and keeping the personal training session flowing is your utmost priority. There are times when you need to go off-script due to injury, lack of equipment, or your client’s stress levels. Having plan B in your pocket reinforces your expert status and keeps your clients happy.



1. Physiother Res Int. 2018 Oct;23. Effects of isometric, eccentric, or heavy slow resistance exercises on pain and function in individuals with patellar tendinopathy: A systematic review.  Lim HY1,2, Wong SH.

What is Detric up to?



Detric’s Weekly Wrap Up

 Excited to be mentor for AFS!

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Weekly Rant: Career longevity for the Personal Trainer 

Still in the game?! Personal Trainers can learn a lot about career longevity from Serena, Brady and LeBron. 

They were supposed to be done years ago?! Definitely not playing at this high of a level. But they are still out competing, proving the doubters wrong. 

One thing that makes the greatest great is their love of the game. They love it so much even the hardest of works feels, well, not easy, but they know what it takes to stay at the top. They have enough respect for the game to study it, reinvent their game, to stay in the game. 

They are focused enough to block out criticism from “experts” and haters who know nothing about their why. 

They are focused enough not to listen to excessive praise either. They have built strong teams around them. People that make them better. They challenge others to step up to their level.  

Champions are thankful for every second on the field, enough to live in the moment… they know it is precious. Their love for the game is the main reason for their longevity. The moral of the story here is consistency of effort over time, and you will probably find a way to get “lucky” like them, whatever game you choose.

Stuff I’m Featured In

An honor to be featured in EliteFTS! 

Your Haters are Pushing You to the Top – Embrace It

Read More



What weight do I use ? – DETRIC SMITH

What I’m Reading……

Are you right for the job? – Nick Tumminello

8 must-have personality traits for trainer success

A Successful Coach or Trainer Needs Emotional Intelligence – DeShawn Fairbairn

5 Fitness Business Lessons I Learned in 2020 – Dan Kleckner

Looking to become a better trainer? Make a career out of fitness?
Here is how we can help -

  • Send over your questions so they can be featured in our weekly Q and A
  • Sign up for our newsletter to get updates
  • Set up a no charge success session so we can discuss your goals in the fitness industry?

Looking to get into the best shape of your life?
Follow me over on my Results Performance Training site

Fill out the contact form below!

What is Detric up to?



Detric’s Weekly Wrap Up

 Excited to be mentor for AFS!

Signup For Newsletter

We respect your email privacy

Weekly Rant: Why can’t we all just get along?! 

Why can’t trainers all get along?

I get it. We are all small fishes in a big pond competing to get the attention of your ideal clients. Then we jump on social media to post an update and something from another coach catches our eye.

OH, I don’t like that. Let me tell them so and I’ll throw in my two cents worth about their lack of smarts. Maybe their audience will see how intelligent I am and see how uninformed they are. And who knows? It may get me a client.

Now, you’ve possibly made an enemy and you’ve wasted your time and energy being negative. It’s a mistake some of us have made before, attacking other trainers to boost our own ego and status.

It’s okay to point out crap, misinformation and outright lies but this is better done privately. But it is never okay to attack someone personally to boost your own ego or status. If it’s a matter of opinion, better to keep it to yourself and scroll on by.

Better yet turn it into good info to reach your audience. Because when you spend more time and energy reaching your audience with quality info the better for you and your bottom line.

I like this quote from Bruce Lee –

Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”

In some cases, that popular “influencer” might have a gift with marketing. Maybe we can learn from this. Even if their information is horrible.

Does anything upset you in the fitness industry ? What are you waiting for? Start creating, instead of attacking and complaining.


Stuff I’m Featured In

An honor to be featured in EliteFTS! 

Do you ever think about how you think? Developing critical thinking skills will be important to advancing as a personal trainer. As trainers, we often make the same mistakes our clients make. This article will talk about confirmation bias in fitness—how people tend to believe what they already think is true.



My business, Results Performance Training, is honored to be a host site for the NASM Gymternship Program!  This program will help you transition from getting certified to landing your first personal training job. Nothing beats hands-on experience, networking, and learning from someone who has been in the trenches.

If you are certified by NASM,  check it out below!


What I’m Reading……

I Was Wrong – Chris Holder

Mindfulness And Fat Loss: A Guide For The Easily Distracted – Mike Howard

Take a deeper dive into mindfulness: What it is, its general health benefits, how it can help with fat loss, as well as some simple, effective ways to implement mindfulness into your daily life.

How to Do the Things You Keep Avoiding – David Cain
 A great article which will help you identify some useful, tangible, step that obviously has to be done at some point, and get your tasks done.

Looking to become a better trainer? Make a career out of fitness?
Here is how we can help -

  • Send over your questions so they can be featured in our weekly Q and A
  • Sign up for our newsletter to get updates
  • Set up a no charge success session so we can discuss your goals in the fitness industry?

Looking to get into the best shape of your life?
Follow me over on my Results Performance Training site

Fill out the contact form below!

What weight do I use ?

Do you have a hard time knowing what weight to use or when to progress or regress weight? This is a question I often get from my members and trainers when they work with their clients

Now, I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. Because choosing a starting weight differs from client to client and is part guesswork and part science. And it’s a question that has plagued most lifters and trainers, including myself in the past.

With a little trial and error mixed with a dash of experience, here are two methods, I pass on to trainers and clients when faced with the eternal question “what weight do I use?’


Use Ramping Sets to Determine Load

Clients (and sometimes trainers) sometimes jump straight to their working sets without regard to how they’re feeling. If the weight is too light, it’s not a problem. But if the weight is too heavy, then safety becomes an issue.

Once the client has a good handle on the body weight version of the movement, we use ramping sets to determine the clients starting weight.  

One way of implementing ramping sets is keeping the reps the same while increasing the load until the client’s form starts to break down or they struggle. For example, the client is programmed to 3 sets of 8 reps on the dumbbell bench press.


8 reps- 20 pounds

8 reps- 30 pounds

8 reps- 35 pounds

8 reps- 40  pounds

8 reps- 45 pounds

8 reps- 50 pounds


At any point when the client feels uncomfortable or there’s a breakdown in form at a certain weight, that’s the working weight for the day.

But this isn’t a substitute for your coaching eye. Because if you notice clients struggling with submaximal weights due to muscle weakness and or they are not sufficiently recovered, there is no need to add strength on top of dysfunction and tiredness.

Instead regress the weight or the exercise to a manageable one so the client still gets a training effect while not adding to their dysfunction or stress.


Use Ratings of Perceived Exertion to Find Load

 The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a way of measuring a client’s intensity level. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel like your body is working, taking in account all factors and not just the weight used. 

This puts more of the onus on the client when it comes to determining load after you educate them on how RPE works. Plus, combined with your coaching eye, you’ll both have a say in determining load. 

On a RPE scale of 1-10, a 7 means you could have gotten 3 more reps, an 8 means you could have gotten 2 more reps, 9 means you could have gotten 1 more, and a 10 means its max effort.

The goal here is to start them off at a 6 and eventually to a 7-8 for each exercise. The beauty of this method is it created more buy in from the client, helping them feel more invested in their program.



Other Things to Consider Before Choosing Load


Training Experience

There are few other considerations you need to think about before choosing a weight, one being training experience of the client. As a general guideline if a client has one year or less experience with resistance training, forget about maxing out and concentrate on gross motor skills like

–         Squat

–         Push

–         Pull

–         Hinge

–         Carry

People with more training experience tend to have confidence and want to be pushed during their workouts, whereas people with zero training experience should be progressed slowly.



It’s easier to bounce back from a training session when you’re younger, but older lifters don’t have that same luxury because the older you are, the longer the recovery. Muscles and joints take more time to bounce back after a tough training session.  This is when ramping sets and R.P.E are your best friends when determining load for the older client.



Injury History

During the intake process, you should have a fair idea whether your client has any limitations. Getting a client to back squat with a history of lower back pain is obviously no-no. 

If a client has an injury that prevents them from performing an exercise, perform another exercise along the spectrum (Goblet Squat) and determine load using the methods above.  

Regardless of age or the limitations of the client, one thing to keep in mind as trainers is  DO NO HARM.

If a client has an injury, you want to figure out their limitations, stay away from painful ranges of motion, and work around the injury. It all comes down to weighing the risk versus reward of each exercise, and whether it helps the client achieve their goals.


Progression Is Always the Name of The Game

When it comes to making progress, whether it’s getting strong, hypertrophy or fat loss, progression is the name of the game. Does that mean that you need to go up in weight from set to set? Like a lot of things when dealing with the human body, it depends.

There are many ways you can progress an exercise without having to add weight. You can execute more reps, sets, cut the rest periods, or change the tempo with the same weight. For example, adding a pause at the bottom of a goblet squat or a rep in half goblet squat.


Wrapping up

Choosing a weight is part art and part science. You constantly need to tinker and experiment to find what works best for you and your client.  Progressing safely in regards to the client’s limitations, age and training experience is the key.

It’s Time to Put Your Creative Work Out There — The World Needs to See It

Is it scary to put yourself out there? Yeah, but if you help one person, it’s worth it. As Steven Pressfield puts it, “the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

It might scare you to start that business, create that blog, or write that book. But remember, not too many artists have an album full of hits. It’s not about being perfect every time, it’s about sharing your gifts with the world. 

I have a process mindset, so I know that an imperfect plan if put into action now, will teach me more than a perfect plan never acted on ever could. 

Don’t be afraid to ship your work

It might be hard at first. I was flat out afraid of failing, and still have moments where I face some fear. But, nearly two decades as a trainer and a decade of owning a personal training studio, taught me that failure comes with the territory. 

After a while failing won’t bother you, it’s the lack of taking action that will. I’ve seen too many perfectionists wait for the ‘perfect time’. The perfect time is always now

They’ve said things like, “when I have the perfect business plan, I’ll start my business.” Or “who am I to write a book, give a speech, or start a blog?” 

Sometimes what I think is my “best work” gets no likes. But then one person reaches out to me directly and says how much it meant to them. And sometimes what I consider my “worst work” gets a lot of feedback. So I guess that story in my head isn’t always right! 

When you feel stuck, it helps to ask yourself, who’s further along? 

The person who shipped out 12 articles in 12 weeks with only 2 to 4 of them being a hit?

Or the person who hasn’t shipped their masterpiece because they’re worried about being judged or feel insecure because they’re not the ‘best’ yet.

What my 20 years of experience taught me

There are a few key lessons on fear and failure that I’ve taken away from my career thus far. They include the following:

1. Ship your work, but make sure it’s authentic. 

Stop trying to be like everyone else. Art is subject to interpretation. People often flop before you ever hear about them. Even though they flopped, they never quit. Failing is how you learn and it’s where you’ll learn the most. 

2. The worst-case scenario isn’t that bad.

If you’re getting started, your audience probably isn’t big. If you flop, not too many people will notice. But, what’ve you gained is experience. And now you have an idea of how to pivot differently. 

3. It gets easier over time.

This is especially true after you’ve failed a few times. Because of your so-called ‘failure,’ you realize nothing bad actually happens. When you start to develop this process mindset, you’ll look at things objectively.  

4. Haters come with the territory.

Those who haven’t done what you’re doing, think they can do it better than you. But, how could they? They’re sitting on the sidelines, not taking action and simply hating on you.

Don’t let these types of people interfere with your talents, gifts, and creativity. Haters are always going to hate and they’ll always be around, but the more haters the better. It means you’re doing something right.

What is failure, really?

After 20 years in the game and going into a decade of owning a personal training studio, I’ve learned that failure is not your enemy — it’s your friend.

Although we live in a social media world where success is viewed as ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ that doesn’t mean a ‘like’ measures your long-term success. Nor does it measure the influence you have on the people you want to reach.

The more you stay authentic, the more impact your work has. And the more enjoyment you get out of the process.

Final thoughts

Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned over the past two decades. 

  • A bad piece of work is not that bad. It equals a lesson, and it helps you move through the fear of failure. 
  • Some of your best work might not be well received. But, some of your other work could be a huge success. That’s because someone needed to hear what you had to say at the exact moment you put your work out there.
  • If you love the game you’re playing, you will “win” eventually. You’ve already won compared to the person sitting on the fence.

Are you a personal trainer looking to connect? Need advice when it comes to advancing your career? Let us know how we can help. Call or text us at 757-589-7028. Or send an email to [email protected].

How to Play the Long Game, Or Better Yet The Infinite Game in Your Personal Training Career


Are you playing a long game with your personal training career or business? Or will you fall for the traps that will end your career or shut your business down in the first 3 to 5 years, if not sooner?


As a personal trainer and business owner with 20 years of experience, I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. Although these last two decades came and went faster than I could have imagined — they taught me how to have a successful career in fitness.


A great book I came across recently, called the “Infinite Game” made me reflect back on my career and helped put some things into perspective. While reading the book, I realized I can use my experiences, both positive and negative, to help the next generation of trainers or personal trainers who run businesses.   


If you want to be in this industry for the long haul, you’ll need to play an Infinite Game. To do that, you’ll need to learn and develop the following five traits as outlined in the book. 


1. Just cause

This is not the same as your ‘why’. Your why comes from the past. Whereas having a just cause comes from a specific vision you have for the future, it doesn’t exist yet. But this vision you hold is your inspiration to stay focused. It’s bigger and more worthwhile than any small wins you might celebrate along the way.


Some attributes of this vision include:

  • Something positive and promising

  • Inclusive for all who want to participate

  • Service orientated and beneficial to others

  • Can endure unforeseen advances and changes 

  • Idealistic, big, and bold


Only the coaches and businesses who stand for something will last. The ones who make money their only goal, will likely fail. 


Let’s take a perfect and relevant example — COVID and the resulting pandemic.


You might have taken the important and necessary steps like getting your certification, a job, made some money and earned a little recognition. But when something like the magnitude of COVID hits, what now? 


Without a long term vision or having a just cause, none of the finite stuff holds up. Your vision and cause will give you the strength to endure a lot. And going through a lot teaches and prepares you to get what you want.  


For me, my ‘why’ is multi-layered. It goes far beyond the desire to teach someone how to squat. I want to have a lasting effect on someone’s quality of life. To help give them more active years, to make it easier for them to play with their grandkids, or help improve their mobility and strength so they can go on that trip of a lifetime.


Also, it’s important for me to develop good trainers into great ones, those who need the right guidance in order to break through. In short, my cause is about changing lives. 


2. Trusting teams

Anyone who’s successful in this industry rarely did it alone. Most have mentors, a strong network, and possibly a team of staff members who contributed to the long-term success of these trainers, coaches, and business owners. This network might also include family members, friends, a spouse, or partner.


The reason these key people played a part in the individual’s success has a lot to do with trust.


Working well together is one thing, but having a group of people who trust each other — mentally and emotionally — is something else entirely. This is a vital part of the long term success equation.


Also, your team has to be on board with your cause. If that changes slightly down the road, it’s important that your team can roll with it and adapt. Otherwise, a change in your team might be necessary.


3. Worthy rivals

Stop viewing the competition as people you need to beat. Instead view them as worthy rivals who can teach you how to be better, in a business and personal sense. Those who are a step ahead and reached the ‘next level’ of success could help you grow and evolve. They might push you to be the best version of yourself.


Know that these people are more like you than you think. They were likely in your shoes at some point. Take that as encouragement and motivation to get you to your next level of success, in whatever form that takes.


Also, it’s critical to be around people who think big. Those who understand that no dream is unattainable. They know how to hold a vision in their mind until it becomes reality. These people are rarely negative. Instead, they focus many of their thoughts and attention on staying positive. 


I’m definitely a competitive guy, which has helped and hurt me. And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of competition in this field. At first, you might beat out most people just by showing up consistently and outworking them. But then you get to a point where working smarter, not just harder will benefit you more.


So, I challenge you to think bigger and reach out to the top people in the industry. The ones that motivate you and stretch you. You’ll find that most are willing to help you get to where you want to be. Even if some aren’t eager to help, don’t let that derail you.


Stay focused on your mission and work with those who will help. In time, you’ll find your niche and realize there’s no ‘real’ competition other than yourself.


4. Existential flexibility

This term refers to extreme adaptability and a love for change. An infinite minded person who demonstrates existential flexibility is someone who welcomes challenges, even in the most intense form. Real coaches live for this.


It might sound strange, but I got excited when COVID hit. Not because of the threat it posed to people. But in the way, it disrupted my current reality by presenting an extremely difficult set of circumstances. In other words, I perform well under pressure and never step down from a challenge. Also, I never see a situation as ‘game over’ because I’m a process minded person. 


Even more, I’ve been part of this game long enough to know that some people will flat out fold during tough times. And this has nothing to do with finances, but everything to do with a lack of love for the game. So, to embody this trait you need a strong love for what you do, which will give you the strength to come out on the other side. 


5. A courage to lead 

When you’re working with an infinite mindset you’ll have the courage to change your perception of how the world works, which will give you the courage to lead. Being open-minded is key. How you see the world now will likely change in the next 1, 3, 5 years, and beyond. The change in your outlook and views will help you adapt to the changes in competition and advances. If not, you’ll be out of a business. 


I see the world much differently now than I did 20 years ago and in the subsequent years since. If you don’t evolve and accept that things will change, then you won’t be a respected leader. Or a leader of any kind.


Final thoughts

To survive the long game, take note of these five traits for success and work on developing a specific skill set. Based on my experience, I learned that some of the most valuable skills to have include patience, drive, and a strategic and future-oriented mindset. Take the longest path to success.


With my 5 to 10-year goals, I focus on the actions that will get me there. But, I often do things quickly with the understanding that failure is my biggest ally. This is something I know to be true because I’ve seen it happen time and time again over the last 20 years. Waiting for perfection is holding most of you back.


You might also be holding yourself back because you’re not where you want to be yet. And those around you seem to have it all. The ‘superstar trainers’ might be a leg or two up on you, but if you commit to playing an infinite game, you will pass them, guaranteed.


What is Detric up to?



Detric’s Weekly Wrap Up

 Excited to be mentor for AFS!

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Every week I learn something new, or I encounter a situation from which I learn from at Results Performance Training.

And rather than keep this to myself, I’ll share my thoughts with you so you can become a better trainer, run your business more efficiently, or reach your fitness goals. Here’s my thoughts for this week.

Stuff I’m Featured In

PERSONAL TRAINING SALES – Sadly , some of the best trainers hate to discuss sales. It seems like most of the “best” fitness salespeople know nothing about how to help people reach their fitness goals. Check out this article I wrote for STACK about the mindset you need to sell personal training.


Honored to be a mentor through AFS! Check out this organization  if you are interested in understanding the business side of fitness!

What I’m Reading……

C words of dieting feature image for blog

A great short post about the ‘c’ words of diet culture that are embedded in your client’s brain.

A lot of clients have trouble exercising when they are not with us. This article goes into 5 ways to keep your clients on the straight and narrow.

Looking to become a better trainer? Make a career out of fitness?
Here is how we can help -

  • Send over your questions so they can be featured in our weekly Q and A
  • Sign up for our newsletter to get updates
  • Set up a no charge success session so we can discuss your goals in the fitness industry?

Looking to get into the best shape of your life?
Follow me over on my Results Performance Training site

Fill out the contact form below!

A Look Back on the Most Invaluable, Life-Changing Lessons During COVID-19

There are times in life that feel heavy and dark. But, we always make it through. Then there are unprecedented times full of unknowns, which is our current reality because of COVID. It’s an entirely new and different beast.  

Navigating through this has been challenging and excruciating at times. Because of it, I’ve learned that certain things are completely out of my control. When I made peace with this fact, my stress began to subside.

And although COVID isn’t over and the pandemic’s still affecting many around the world, I’ve learned so much from this time. I’ve grown as a business owner and personal trainer, and I’m still standing and going strong. 

Now is the perfect time to reflect on and share 8 lessons I learned during the COVID shutdown and the slow return back to the new ‘normal’.

1. The importance of gratitude

Gratitude is like a superpower. The more grateful you are, the happier you become and the better you feel. When you’re not in a state of gratitude, you may become fearful, depressed, and quickly enter victimhood. This is a place of disempowerment. When you’re dealing with the unknown, like COVID, that’s not a position you want to be in. 

To step back into your power, write down 3 to 5 things you’re grateful for every morning. Say them out loud over and over until a smile appears on your face.

I’m thankful that my fitness business is still successful even with the COVID crisis. Not everyone has been as fortunate. Some people lost everything. When I’m feeling down or frustrated, I shift my mindset and think about everything in my life I’m grateful for.

I think this mindset is one of the main reasons my business persevered.

2. There’s more than one way to make money

Don’t get married to how you make your money. And don’t get stuck in the limited belief that money is hard to come by. When you get creative and think outside the box, you’ll realize there are lots of ways to make money in the fitness industry.

For starters, there’s online one-on-one coaching, virtual group training sessions, paid writing gigs, affiliate marketing, teaching opportunities, and more.

Focus your attention on making money, instead of fearing the lack of money. This is a basic principle of the Law of Attraction. Ask for what you want and it will come. Ask for what you don’t want and that will also come. You get to choose.

3. Let go of the “old, comfortable way” and learn to adapt

The key phrase here is “let go.” Release your attachment to the old way, to the way you’ve always done things. And adapt to the changing environment around you. If this pandemic taught us anything, it taught us how to be resilient and adaptable in the face of adversity. Extreme adversity I might add. 

So, if your regular clients are Baby Boomers and don’t like training online, be okay with that and understand where they’re coming from. Pivot and adapt. Make adjustments to stay in business.

Making money keeps you in the game for the long run. And not only you but everyone down the road who stands to benefit from your expertise and services. 

When we switched to virtual sessions, we noticed our senior clients dropped out at a higher rate. So, we focused our marketing efforts on young athletes to help make up the difference in income. We also transitioned to more one-on-one and semi-private options. 

4. Become more open-minded

I never saw myself giving live coaching sessions online, but I adjusted and enjoyed being at my gym while coaching virtually. It gave me more energy to focus on expanding my leadership and personal training skills. And more energy to attack different revenue sources with my writing and coaching other trainers.

Instead of hating the idea of coaching virtually, I chose to see the positive in it. And from that mindset, I attracted people I wanted to work with. In other words, I changed my perception of virtual fitness training and found a way to make it work for me.

5. Never underestimate the power of your network

A network isn’t just useful and practical — it’s necessary for success. And in the case of a global pandemic, it was necessary for survival. I was fortunate to have established a stable and powerful network long before I actually needed it.

So, it was easy to ask for help and to help others in my network. Honestly, I don’t know what I would’ve done without my network of fit pros who were also going through the same thing.

If you ever questioned your network before, this time probably helped you see who was on your side and who wasn’t. When your network is defined by a healthy, team-spirited culture, they’ll always support you, even through difficult times.

And if there’s any negativity in your group, you’ll see that very clearly. And your inner guidance system will tell you to part ways with the people who don’t have your best interest at heart. 

As a takeaway, make it a point to develop meaningful connections — one’s that last. One’s that stand the test of time. Not only for your sake but for their benefit as well. We’re stronger together, as you know.

6. Study your numbers and track them close

It’s not always about how much you make, it’s also how much you keep. Make your money work for you. Get better with money management if that’s something you struggle with

There are tons of great online resources and books on the subject of finances. Spend some of your downtime learning and soon enough you’ll be more confident in this area. Also, be sure to have great bookkeepers and accountants on your team.

These important financial steps and decisions can end up saving your business — literally.

7. Ground yourself before making quick decisions

Before making an irrational decision from a place of emotional duress, stop and take a breath. In fact, take several of them. You don’t always have to make decisions at the drop of a dime. You often have more time than you think.

Spend time grounding yourself before making an impulsive or costly decision. This doesn’t have to take days, this can happen in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. 

Go for a walk alone, step your feet onto the grass, feel the connection of the earth. And don’t forget to take breaths, pray if you want to. Having a quiet, uninterrupted moment where you’re breathing slowly and calmly will end up providing you the best insights. 

Coming from a calm, grounded place helped me make decisions fast when I needed to. Like taking the steps to move our training sessions to a virtual platform, which enabled us to maintain our members. 

8. Remember your ‘why’

Why did you start your own gym? What was your main inspiration and driving force behind it all? Now, get back to that.

Remembering why you got into this industry in the first place will bring back a flood of good memories. Such as your love for fitness, your passion for serving others. And your calling to bring joy and health into the lives of those who step foot into your gym.

Your ‘why’ is powerful. It’s going to help you get out of any bind and jump over any hurdle. You got this

    How to Prevent Burnout When You Own and Manage a Personal Training Studio

    Running a fitness business is highly rewarding and exciting, yet it can also be challenging and take its toll on you. Getting breaks are few and far in between, especially when you have less staff and trainers due to COVID. 

    This is when burnout can start to creep in. We’ve all been there. I know I have. And I learned that I needed to switch things up.

    So, that’s what I did. Taking time out for myself became a huge priority. Also, this brush with burnout taught me a lot of valuable lessons. This article will share many of them and hopefully assist you in creating your own ‘burnout prevention plan’.

    Ways to prevent burnout

    When you have a mentally and physically demanding job and are on your feet a lot, and wearing dozens of hats, like us personal trainers — it’s necessary to manage your energy and expectations. After 20 years in this industry, I understand that burnout is real and that it can happen to any of us.

    Based on my personal experience and getting through that difficult time, I want to share some tips with you.

    Become a master of your schedule

    Setting up a detailed schedule can help you stay centered and focused. Also, seeing a visual layout of your day can assist in optimal time management. When your day or week is mapped out, there are fewer surprises. And when there are fewer surprises, there’s less worry and stress in your day.

    Furthermore, the mind likes structure and routine. It doesn’t need every second mapped out, but general structure. This takes the mind away from stressing about the unknown and instead can work from a concrete timetable.   

    Moreover, carve out some time in your calendar for you! Get that ‘me time’ in. Even if you’re in startup mode, or carrying more of the weight because of COVID challenges, still find time for yourself.

    The mistake I made was to push and push and push some more. But, this led to burnout. It took that experience to learn what not to do going forward. Burning out sucks and it can severely impact your business.

    In short, members come to you for more than a workout. When you’re stress-free and mentally calm you can give them a positive experience and make them members for life. But, it’s all about the long-run. Pushing too hard for short term success can lead to serious burnout.

    Make time for your own workouts

    Whether you spend more time managing the business from the office or work with clients most of the day, it’s crucial to get your personal workouts in. Use the schedule you’ve created and find a pocket of time that works best for you. Maybe the early morning is open, or the mid-afternoon.

    We all know this, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get it done. Particularly for us seasoned trainers who have some minor injuries from decades of training. The key is to find balance with your training. And it’s even more crucial to find this balance when you’re pulling off most of the sessions yourself when staffing is limited.

    If you’re struggling to get your workout in, it might be easier to do it in a different place. A new atmosphere or setting away from your gym. Try to make it a priority because this is your time to relieve any accumulated stress you’ve built up.

    As you know, exercise releases endorphins, which have many benefits like creating positive feelings and general happiness. You’re great at encouraging your clients with their fitness goals, so give yourself that same support and encouragement to get your workouts in.

    Ask your colleagues for support

    This is key! Getting support and guidance from close friends and colleagues is incredibly powerful. However, it’s not always easy to ask for it. Many of us learn from a young age that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But, it’s actually a sign of strength. It takes a lot of courage, but the reward is high.

    We’re not meant to do everything alone. When we’re short on trainers or have specific business demands, having someone who’s there for us can make all the difference. So, call up a friend, find a coach or mentor, arrange a lunch meeting, or schedule a workout together and relieve some of your stress and concerns.

    Something as ‘simple’ as this can help you avoid and prevent burnout. When we had to shut down due to COVID, I had multiple people in the industry help us transition to virtual and bounce ideas off of.

    Prioritize your sleep

    Without restful sleep, you’re not allowing your body to restore, reset, and recover. Also, lack of sleep can affect your adrenals and nervous system, which can lead to anxiousness, fatigue, and overwhelm.

    So, do your best to get consistent sleep because it’s honestly one of the best medicines out there. And it won’t cost you a thing. Speaking from experience, I was part of the culture that traded hours of sleep for work. But that always backfires.

    Get as much sleep as you can, so you’ll have more energy during work. You’ll be able to get more done this way and serve your clients better. In this industry, you’re interacting with people all day. Staying sharp is a necessity for your success.

    Take a break from your phone 

    After a long day running your business, motivating, and training clients, you may feel the need to be on your phone. To catch up on emails, texts, social media messages, or anything else your phone requires of you.

    If you own a business, do yourself a favor and get a phone strictly for business. Having the same number for personal and business matters can be difficult and cause unnecessary stress.

    Also, try to make your downtime real downtime. Put your phone in another room if need be, or turn it off. Your brain needs a break. It’s not meant to be staring or working on screens often. This can affect your circadian rhythm, which then impacts your ability to get restful, deep, restorative sleep.

    Final points on how to deal with burnout 

    If you burnout as a business owner and don’t have a business partner to back you up, what then? Who will run your gym for you?

    To prevent burnout from happening in the first place, it’s essential to take preventative and proactive measures, rather than being reactive. By implementing the tips mentioned, you’re keeping your daily health needs in check. And from that place of empowerment and vitality, burnout is less likely to occur.

      5 Underrated Pieces of Equipment Every PT Should Have

      Look, I am not here to say that the classic barbell and rack combo is not effective – but as trainers, we do need to look at the bigger picture. 


      Lot’s of clients can get bored with the same traditional barbell training programs. Lots of clients might feel apprehensive about using heavy dumbbells or training with typical resistance machines like leg press or bench press. 


      We need to appeal to all types of clients. On any given day your clients should walk into the gym feeling comfortable, and leave feeling successful. Sometimes this means using alternative exercise equipment. 


      5 Pieces of Equipment Every Trainer Should Use

      1. NT Loop

      The NT loop is not your standard resistance band. While it may look the same, the NT loop has much more functionality and allows trainers to balance their client’s hip movements. 


      Movements like squats, deadlifts and hinges train the hip extensors but do not balance the mobility or strength required for optimal performance. 


      We must remember that the most powerful movement starts by generating force from the hips. 


      The NT loop is essential when training performance-based clients like football players, basketball players and general clients alike. 


      2. Landmine

      The landmine is a super valuable tool that allows you to load on weight and use a lever class to your advantage. Great for super setting, and also very functional in rotation exercises and explosive exercises, the landmine affords trainers with an area for performing many exercises with very little space. 


      3. InertiaWave

      While this tool may look like your run-of-the-mill battle rope, InertiaWave is very different. While standard battle ropes are dead weight, the Inertiawave uses the law of inertia to its advantage. 


      Through simple movements up and down or side to side, the inertia wave helps to train core stability and postural strength through various isometric lower body holds. 


      The variability is endless and this tool provides a very effective low-impact method for training the core.


      4. SlideBoard

      The SlideBoard is not just for hockey players. While this tool can certainly be used to injury prevention (especially in the knee), the Slideboard is also a great tool to help add variability to a client’s exercise routine. 


      Slide board exercises allow for lateral movement, which can best engage the major muscle groups that make up your core and provide stability and balance for your body. The SlideBoard is a great tool for all client levels. 


      5. SandBag

      Sometimes the classic deadweight is a must for exercise programs. Grab yourself a heavy sandbag and the world is yours. Push, pull, balance, jump – any movement can be done while holding or throwing a sandbag. 


      Rogue makes some top-notch sandbags that won’t spill all over your gym so be sure to pick up a quality product. 


      Why Use Alternative Equipment?

      As stated before, some routine exercises can become a little boring. Your name of the game in the PT world should be to have clients finding success but also enjoying the process. 


      Yes, standard barbell work is your baseline and should be used on a regular basis when trying to improve strength and conditioning – but other tools, like the ones above, can add variability into your routine and keep your clients guessing. 


      Don’t forget: Always be sure to provide very detailed exercise cues when putting a client onto a new exercise routine and ask them if they are comfortable with the new training tools. 


      Did I miss any underrated exercise equipment? 


      Feel free to drop me a line using the contact form and I will write more content to help trainers retain more clients and find success in the personal training world.