Hands up, who hates dead time?
You know what I’m talking about – those huge gaps you have in the middle of the day, where you don’t train any clients.
Okay, if you specialise in training retired folk, stay-at-home parents, or people who work for themselves, you might actually be able to fill your daytime schedule, but most PTs do the majority of their work when other people aren’t working.
That means early mornings and late evenings … and that means that you can have big gaps in your day.
In my days as a full-time PT, I was lucky enough that once I’d been in the industry three or four years, I did manage to fill my daytime slots with clients so I could work straight through from the early morning to the afternoon, but that wasn’t always the case.
I remember back to the early days where I’d get to the gym for 6am, train a client or two, then hang about from 8 until the lunchtime crowd came in around midday. There’d be another couple of sessions here, then I’d have a good three hours of dead time until the evening rush. Even that wasn’t guaranteed to be booked solid though, and I’d often have half an hour to kill between clients.
Over time though, I got pretty good at making the most of this dead time.
Most other trainers at the gym would sit around reading the paper, or browsing Facebook on their phones. As relaxing as I’m sure this was for them, it was hardly the most productive use of time.
If you’re guilty of doing this, then you must be 100% happy with how your business is going and how many clients you have?
Want more clients?
Then try out the following 7 tips for making the best use of your dead time.
Aside from referrals, walking the gym floor is the number one way you’ll pick up clients.
You don’t have to approach everyone, get entangled in long-winded conversations, or even pitch your services. You just need to be seen.
If you’re always lounging in reception, head buried in a book or chatting to the receptionist, members start to notice that, and think you’re being lazy. Get your butt out onto the gym floor though, and even if you only tidy up some plates, or walk round checking that people are doing okay, members will take note, and when they’ve got a question, you’ll be the trainer they’ll come to.
Spending all day on your feet is hard work, and your hip flexors, upper back and calves are probably beat.
Reinvigorate yourself by foam rolling, stretching and mobilizing for 10-20 minutes.
Doing some “funky stuff” gets you noticed, so it’s a great opportunity to explain what you’re doing to members and help them out with some of their aches and pains.
There’s this ongoing debate of whether trainers need to practice what they preach.
I’m firmly in the camp that says they do.
You don’t need to be an Adonis, or even be as fit or as strong as your clients, but you at least need to be consistent with your training and be able to push yourself and get a sweat on. Having a full workout, going heavy, or pushing for new PRs in the same gym you work at when it’s busy isn’t easy, so I wouldn’t suggest trying to get a new squat max at 6pm on a Monday evening, but get in amongst the weights and show people that you walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
30 minutes might not be enough to train someone in, but it’s certainly enough time to hold a Q&A.
You can either do this as an impromptu one-off and catch people when they’re milling around, or advertise it and make it a regular thing if you always tend to have a little time in the same gap each week.
Make it informal, and just open the floor to questions from members.
Offer to buy everyone a coffee and you’re bound to have a decent turn out.
Your gym probably has those generic, not-too-flashy personal trainer profile boards up.
These are a necessary evil, but they suck for marketing.
It’s incredibly difficult to differentiate yourself and shout “HIRE ME!” from these.
So why not design a poster instead?
My two favourite ways to do this are either just to make a tip-packed poster, say on the importance of eating protein, or as a mini-article on types of cardio, or the benefits of weights.
Or you can make it a transformation story of one of your clients, complete with before and after pictures. This is guaranteed to get interested.
I kind of bagged on reading earlier, and said it wasn’t the best idea to sit with your head buried in a book, but we’ve got to learn at some point.
Always keep a book in your bag and read it in bursts whenever you have a few minutes spare.
Be alert though, and if you see a member looking like they need some help, or glancing slyly to check out what you’re reading, then be prepared to stop and have a chat with them.
Power naps are awesome.
If you’re up at 5am and not hitting the hay again until 10 or 11 at night, you’re going to start feeling run down and exhausted eventually (no matter how much caffeine you drink) so see if there’s chance to grab a quick bit of shut eye.
With your naps, make them no longer than 20 minutes, as you don’t want to go into deep sleep.
I’ve also found that one way to feel epic after a nap is to lie on the floor with your head on a pillow or cushion, and your feet elevated on a chair. This allows the blood to drain towards your head, and you wake up feeling refreshed and energised.
PT-ing isn’t easy.
Not only do you have to be on your game physically, but you need to be upbeat and motivational, even when you’re really not feeling it, and all too often, it’s easy to waste your dead time by idly flicking through a magazine, or gossiping with other trainers.
We all deserve some rest and relaxation, but at the same time, if you want more clients, it makes sense to make use of those annoying little gaps you have.
Even if you just make the goal of speaking to one person every day, or holding one Q&A session each week, that’s better than nothing. And who knows, do it right, and you could get a new client.