PHIL KAPLAN'S Success Tips for Fitness Professionals

Topic: Managing Your Schedule

You shouldn't be a victim of your clients' calendars and time restrictions - a fitness professional can actually design and maintain a perfect schedule!

My father once told me that managing my time was going to be more important than managing my money. I thought he was off the wall. Then again, at the time I was a free-as-a-bird college student who didn't have enough money to buy a pizza.

I just couldn't wait until I had enough money so I could worry about managing it.

As we grow older, one of the phenomenons we experience is the humbling recognition that our parents were right. About ten years ago, my business was generating lots and lots of money, and I began to feel like the figurative hamster on a wheel . . . running faster and faster but never really getting anywhere. I started to hate seeing my clients, to dread every meeting, and I was anything but effective. I escaped. I went to spend a few days at a friend's beach house and tried to relax, but it wasn't really relaxation I needed, it was clarity. I brought with me Stephen Covey's First Things First and both the book and the escape proved transformational for me. Here's what I realized. I was a professional, and it was about time I started behaving as one.

I sat down with my huge daytimer, looked at all the appointments that I beleived were "urgent," and realized that most of them really weren't all that important. My mind began to sift through all the client appointments that did not comfortably fit into my time schedule, but that I willingly accepted as I didn't want to turn down either the money or the ability to help yet another person. I've since learned that both the financial and emotional reward can be far greater if my time is better invested.

Today, rather than being limited by the idea of my services all being one-on-one, I have a radio show that allows me to reach thousands of people in an hour. Today, rather than being caught up in the belief that said I had to analyze someone's personal needs before I could help them change, I do seminars that bring me 750 people all at once. I've learned to manage my time and the payoff has been more than I'd ever expected.

How did I go from being the hamster on the wheel to being as productive as I am today? Well, going back to the beach house escape, returning to the moment when the realization hit, I realize the entire process started with a pen in my hand. I took out a journal and began to create my ideal schedule. I forgot about Paul, the client who could only train at 9:30 on Monday evenings. I forgot about Cathy and her husband who would call me to change their appointment whenever it was least opportune. I decided from that point forward I was going to go to Playoffs, a sports bar, with my buddies to watch Monday Night Football . . . every Monday night (during football season of course)! Believe it or not, that was the first appointment I put in my calendar, Monday Night Football. No, it wasn't going to make me wealthy, but it was going to bring some enjoyment back into my life.

I then decided I would take Sundays off completely. I decided once a month I would conduct a seminar, and twice per week I would do Outreach, setting up a table at a local merchant's place of business to interact with people and attract new business. I blocked out workout time, time to call my clients, and time to call prospective clients. Then, I plugged in the client sessions.

At first I didn't think of real people. I plugged in "Client A," Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:30 AM. "Client B" was at 8:00. That was going to be my Monday, Wednesday, Friday training schedule. On Mondays, at 11:00, I had my trainer meeting in my office. This was going to work out just fine. After my 8:00 client, I'd get a workout in in my Personal Training studio which was right next door to my office. That left me time for a post-workout recovery drink, a 15-minute meeting with my assistant, and then the trainer meeting. I started to get excited as I watched my calendar develop. The sense of burnout was lifting and I couldn't wait to put my new plan into action.

When I returned home, I called my active clients and rearranged my schedule, plugging them into time slots that worked for me. A few at first told me they couldn't change, but when I responded with, "then I'll set up a final workout with you so I can give you some direction for the future," amazingly they suddenly found their own calendars opened up. I started doing something I'd never thought I would do. I started turning down clients. If they didn't fit into my ideal schedule, I hoped another would soon show up to fill any open spots, and inevitably, every spot became filled.

Try calling a doctor's office and saying you want an appointment at exactly 10:15 tomorrow. After the receptionist finishes laughing, she'll say something like, "tomorrow????? He doesn't have any openings until a week from next Thursday. His only opening is on the 23rd at 4:30 PM. Do you want it?" Realize what's happening. The doctor is demanding professional respect, and he's getting it. As a professional, you deserve the same!

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