When and Why Do You Set New Goals For Your Personal Training Career?

Because I’m self-employed, I find it easy to get wrapped up in current projects and forget about planning for future months. However, I know that unless I have specific goals and targets set for myself and my business, I won’t be as productive or successful as I could be. Even if I’m busy today or this month, without targets and planning I could be extremely slow next month.

I have a monthly revenue target that I keep posted on my computer so I see it every day. I set this target number a few months ago after reading a book on small business. The author suggested determining an annual income that you’d like to achieve and working backward from there to calculate the monthly then daily revenue you’d need to meet that target. I keep my daily target number in my head at all times now and often do a quick mental calculation to see where I stand each day. If my total isn’t where it should be, it’s often enough incentive to push me to make a cold call (which I’m never too keen to do otherwise!), submit an ad to my local newspaper, start writing an article focused on one of the products or programs I’m involved with or send off a few “keeping in touch” type of e-mails.

In terms of nonfinancial goals, each December I like to write down three or four bigger goals on a piece of paper and work toward them over the year. They’re usually a combination of business goals (e.g., achieve a new certification or designation, increase my website traffic by a certain amount) and personal goals (e.g., improve my French). I try to make my goals pretty lofty; otherwise, there’s not as much satisfaction in achieving them. When I first started setting these year-end goals about 15 years ago, my partner at the time encouraged me to make them really challenging. I did—but doubted I’d be able to achieve them. When I did achieve all of them, it was immensely satisfying and taught me always to aim high.

Barb Gormley

CustomFit Personal Training

Toronto, Ontario

How do we decide what our goals should be? We do the following:

Begin With the End in Mind. We like to use some of the tools from Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. We talk about long-term desired outcomes and break them up into short-term goals that will help us achieve those outcomes.

Refer to Our Mission Statement. Referring to our business plan and mission statement is a great way to help us evaluate our potential goals.

Ask If a Goal Serves the Unique Needs of Our Community. Living in a small rural community, we often find that programs designed for areas with a large client base don’t work for us. We want to serve the folks who live within 30 minutes of our facility.

Consider How Long a Return on Investment Will Take. As new business owners, we found this a tough concept to remember. We would get all excited about some new equipment or program, not thinking about whether it would actually create more income or whether we had enough staff to support it. Over time, we have found that “doing the math” is critical!

Consider Whether the Goal, If Achieved, Will Be a Win-Win-Win. This concept is another Covey idea. We want every part of our business model to serve our clients, our training staff and us as business owners. All new goals and directions must also meet this standard.

When do we set new goals for our business? At some of these different times:

When We Come Home From an IDEA Conference. We are never more inspired than right after an educational event.

When We Have Achieved a Goal. We find that right when we have achieved one goal is often a great time to set new goals.

When We Are Traveling. Even though vacations are often meant to provide a break away from business, sometimes we find that having time away from the business while we are together 24/7 is the perfect opportunity to use our clear heads and leisurely pace to brainstorm about our future.

After Our Semiannual Consultation With Our Tax/Business Planner. There is no one who can give us a reality check more accurately than our tax planner. Numbers speak louder than words, and sometimes we need to adjust our goals accordingly.

When Things Aren’t Going Quite as Planned. Last year, we realized that although we had achieved many of the goals we thought would earn us a sufficient income, we were still running short. That inspired us to re-evaluate both our goals and our business plan. We decided that in order to make the income we needed, we’d have to expand our studio and staff. We set new goals, and when the space next door became available, we snatched it up!

When We Experience Unexpected Growth. We try to stay ahead of the curve by anticipating growth, but sometimes our business grows in unexpected directions. As an example, for the first 8 years our clientele was primarily female. About 4 years ago, our male client base began to grow and has continued growing to become 50% of our business.

Scott and Barbi Jackson

Owners, Scott Jackson’s Real Life Fitness Personal Training Studio

Nevada City, California

I have worked as a personal trainer for more than 20 years, although never in a full-time capacity. I have always worked as a group fitness instructor, master trainer and consultant and, in recent years, in several management roles. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can choose my own path for my personal training business, depending on my own needs. I don’t set yearly goals for personal training, as it is not my primary source of income. My only goal in this area is to continue doing some training every year to supplement my income.

My weekly schedule is quite busy with my various jobs, so in general I am available to conduct personal training only on a short-term basis and for a limited number of hours. I have established a large network of fitness colleagues, managers, personal trainers, spa directors and fitness club directors. When I see I might have some slower months, I “put the word out” to them that I am available for personal training. For example, I may substitute for a colleague when he or she is sick, unavailable to train or on vacation; or I might train hotel guests who are in town on a short-term stay. I live in Paris, where there are many tourists, international businesspeople, fashion models, etc., so there are always people looking for a personal trainer or a training session on a short-term basis.

Fred Hoffman, MEd

Fitness and Lifestyle Director,

Buddha-bar Spa

International Fitness Consultant

and Reebok Global Master Trainer

Paris, France

In my business I set short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goals are things I want to get done in the next 30–60 days, and the long-term goals are items I want to accomplish within 6–12 months or longer. It is always best to write down goals. I write mine on a small whiteboard in my office. It feels great to erase the short-term goals as I accomplish them and to move a long-term goal up to the short-term category. The whiteboard is right in my face when I sit at my desk. This placement forces me to think about what I am doing to accomplish my goals on a daily basis.

When Should You Set New Goals? You should always be looking at your training business and thinking about what you can do better or what other service or product you can add to your offerings. At the very least, think about these things on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. If you want more clients (this can be a short-term and a long-term goal), then brainstorm what you have to do to get them. You may want to launch a new marketing campaign targeting a certain population. If this campaign is a long-term goal, then you will have several short-term goals to get the campaign off the ground.

Some people like to take inventory at the end of the calendar year and then make goals or resolutions for the new year. It is not a bad idea to do that—it lets you start the year off raring to go with goals to work on. Another time to sit back and think about goals is during the off-season. December and August tend to be slower months, so they are good times to focus on what is working and what else you might want to do with your business.

Reading magazines like IDEA Fitness Journal and attending fitness conferences can also motivate you to set goals. You are exposed to what other trainers are doing in their businesses, and you may want to do the same. I came back from the IDEA Personal Trainer® Conference in New York City in October with lots of ideas on how I wanted to add to my service and product offerings.

How Do You Decide What Your Goals Should Be? Look at what you are doing now. Are you happy with where your business is? Think about where you want your business to be in 6 or 12 months, and then set goal milestones along the way.

One of my goals this year was to increase my revenue without increasing my hours with clients. I needed to have passive income. That meant selling products. One long-term goal was producing an exercise video, and it was time to work toward that long-term goal. I just released the first in my series of Easy On exercise DVDs.

Holly Kouvo

President, Fitting Fitness In and

Holly Kouvo Publishing

Stow, Massachusetts

I am the sole proprietor of a small business with no long-range plans to expand. My career goals tend to evolve from my work as a trainer into cooperative partnerships with willing individuals. When I started training, my only goal was to support myself in this field. I did little advertising, but within a year I had a full client load, having gained a reputation as a knowledgeable, patient and creative teacher focused on realistic training approaches. Goal setting is not black-and-white for me, but I always have an eye on the horizon, striding through any door that beckons and seems to be sound. I also believe in pushing the boundaries of my knowledge and comfort zone on a daily basis; this contributes to how I formulate and meet my goals.

Since I am committed to maintaining continuing education standards above those set by our industry, I am constantly refining my training methods. I rarely jump on the latest bandwagon, and I carefully research potential opportunities and courses before I take them. I want to be sure that I’m not just collecting CECs, but am actually learning something that will be applicable in all avenues of my growth. This strategy allows me to charge more per hour, distances me from “the pack” and gives me the credibility to move into new areas in the fitness arena.

For example, I am now working with Children’s (Hospital and Regional Medical Center) Emergency Response Team here in Seattle. One of their members is a client, and I realized that the response team needed someone to teach them the “how to” of lifting. Knowing I could provide that knowledge, I wrote to the decision maker—and was enthusiastically given the go-ahead. I will be giving a 60-minute training session in the hope that they will find my information valuable enough to invite me back and that they will tell other hospitals. I always put myself out into new situations knowing that I could be rejected or passed over. I get many nos, but some great yeses!

My ultimate goal is to provide everyone with the finest experience they will ever have with a trainer. This being my foundation, I have clients who are loyal, happy to refer me to others and committed to being personally responsible for their health and well-being; there is no more powerful advertisement. Aside from that, I believe in the flow of the universe: goals take shape, opportunities are abundant, and growth is limited only by one’s desires. The success I experience with my small enterprise proves that out.

Nancy L. Jerominski

Owner, NLJ Fitness Consulting

IDEA Elite Personal Fitness Trainer,

ACE Certified

Seattle, Washington

We set specific goals when it becomes apparent that we need to improve in a particular area. We refrain from making up frivolous goals just for the sake of having new goals, because we feel this wastes time. Instead we spend our efforts on improving the quality of everything—personal training, customer service, exercise equipment, atmosphere, toilet paper, telephone message, etc.—on a continual basis. Our goals are never monetary or sales based. They are always based on client satisfaction. We hope our efforts at improving the quality of everything all the time will translate into greater sales, but that is never the focus.

Fred Hahn

Owner, Serious Strength Inc.

New York, New York

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January 2007

© 2007 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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