Many Personal Trainers work for years to reach the magical stage of being fully-booked.
Today, we explore whether being fully-booked allows you to progress as a coach.
Did you know I've been coaching for over a decade? I somehow find reasons to tell you all about it during every article. I can't help myself. Yes, you're right, I am a bad person.
Over the dozen or so years I've been doing this I've been fully booked a few times. At first, being fully-booked caused what can only be described as a colossal level of smugness.
Being fully-booked got me to the magical 10,000 hours of coaching faster than many PT's so I must be something special, right?
Despite what my ego says, being fully-booked doesn't guarantee I'm a good coach. I'm not special despite what my mum tells me.
Being fully-booked is a strong sign you are doing something right, but I think it's dangerous for a PT to be fully-booked, or more accurately to get too comfortable like I have when fully booked in the past.
Without the right strategies in place, being fully-booked puts great pressure on the coach to maintain high standards. If you are to remain fully-booked, you need the right strategies in place.
How Might Being Fully-booked Make You a Worse Coach?
You may stop researching and further education because you no longer have time
You may spend so much time in the business that you don't do any work on the business
You may develop bad habits like forgetting to do client measurements or having regular check-ins
Programming can become a copy and paste job or everyone might get the same session on a given day when your clients are paying for a much higher level of service
Less time for you, so your mental health suffers
All of the above has happened to me, numerous times. It's a tough one to own.
During 2021, my coaching wasn't the best it's ever been. If being good at something is just putting in lots of hours, I should have got even better in 2021, but at least for the first 6 months, I didn't. No-one complained and many clients achieved brilliant things, but I know I wasn't coaching at 100%.
I could make lots of excuses, like we had a baby last year, some family health issues and of course, that I was fully-booked.
How Did I Improve Things?
Here are some of the strategies which helped me bring my coaching game back up to an acceptable standard:
Pay For Further Education
It's got to the point where I have to pay for education to schedule time to do it unless I'm reading up on a subject for a blog post which brings me onto my next point...
Publish Content or Work Requiring Further Education
Paying for things makes you more likely to use the resources. For the last year, I've been a member of the educational platform Lift The Bar.
Big thanks to my main man, Jason Leenaartes for bringing it to my attention. What an amazing human. I wish I had half his positive energy.
You can listen to my podcast with him HERE by the way.
I watch a course lecture every day as I make breakfast. Thanks to wonderful coaches like Gregg Slater, Stuart Aitkin and Chris Burgess among many others, my coaching service recovered from most of the complacency I was experiencing.
Publishing content means other people will see your work. This adds a certain amount of pressure to present information well. If you read up on each of the subjects you write about, refine your knowledge, and apply it to your coaching you should keep improving as a coach.
When you are fully-booked time is at it's least available so you must schedule your content creation time carefully without sacrificing quality by cramming it into a small amount of time, multitasking, or not giving it your full attention.
Help Other Personal Trainers
Helping other PTs while fully-booked can be an awesome way to stay on top of your coaching game because having the pressure of another professional watching and learning from you is very motivating.
I have PT's shadowing my sessions from time to time or I'll meet up with other PT's where we'll chat about business or client issues we've been struggling with.
This helps you get out your own head and gain a different perspective on things. This is extremely important for reducing burnout from the pressures coming from being a fully booked PT, which according to the awesome Science VS Podcast, could have positive effects on your brain in a region called the prefrontal cortex.
Is Your Version of Fully-Booked Correct For You and Your Systems
What you judge to be fully-booked may not be the best thing for your business. If when fully-booked you find yourself unable to give your usual level of service then you might need to peel back on the number of weekly sessions you are doing, streamline your systems (such as your program writing,) and find a way to bring quality back up to mustard.
If you are fully-booked and it is negatively affecting your mental health I would strongly recommend you speak to someone qualified to help or lean on your support network. Often, PT's end up too busy because they agree to take on every client, have no days off and no down time. Don't make those mistakes for long.
A sign you are doing this as a PT is when you sacrifice training regularly due to being too busy.
The best fully-booked coach is a coach who has a life outside of their business, days off, trains regularly, and has enough downtime to aid their mental health.
Ask for Feedback From Your Clients and Fellow Professionals
Asking for feedback is essential to maintaining excellent standards. I ask my clients if they have any feedback or if they could suggest any improvements I could make to the service I provide them. This method of feedback is tough for both coach and client, requiring a strong relationship between the two of you.
Once you are both comfortable with this method, you'll notice that many of their concerns are confirming things you had already realised. When you've both had similar worries, it can be an excellent jumping off point for an agreed upon plan to become a better coach.
Clients are often flattered that you'd try to improve based on their feedback, this is why I currently favour this style.
Some clients pointed out their goals had become vague while others expressed concerns that my session tracking didn't exist. They were right and improvements were made. This very quickly improved my mental health.
Another type of feedback is anonymous feedback where you don't know which client has said what. This is the most honest feedback you will receive because the client won't be worried about your reactions if they give you negative feedback.
The best option is to go for both methods for gathering feedback. Ask for lots of feedback in person and ask for anonymous feedback periodically to fill in any of the cracks.
When you get feedback it's important to not view it as an attack, but as an opportunity to grow as a coach.
Don't Believe The Hype
Many of your clients, and your mum, may say you are a great coach. You may even think it yourself from time to time.
When you a fully-booked, you work with a lot of people. If enough people tell you how awesome you are, you may get too comfortable. I'd encourage you to not believe the hype.
Yes, enjoy your successes and victories, but you can always be better. You should keep pushing your boundaries.
Being fully-booked means you are doing a lot of things correctly, but it doesn't mean you should stop striving to be a better coach.
Gradually refine your approach via self-reflection and feedback, embrace a growth mindset and work with a diverse range of clients and coworkers.
It's almost like when you reach being fully-booked, you should act as if you aren't. When you are fully-booked you have an opportunity to change the way you do things because if you look after all those lovely clients of yours, you'll never have to worry about marketing yourself for new clients as the referrals will roll in.
I'm not sure how to finish this article. Well done on being fully booked. Don't let it go to your head.
By Chris Kershaw
The Heavy Metal Strength Coach