By Tom Holland

Managing Data With Excel Charts
Organizing information into efficient chart formats is a smart move for your business.


ersonal training is a business, and the most successful trainers treat it as such. This means that a trainer must diligently maintain accurate and comprehensive records for all clients, all of the time. While you do not have to be a computer expert to maintain a thriving personal training business, the Information Age in which we live demands that you learn fundamentals in order to manage the valuable information you gather from clients. Computers can assist in your fitness career in numerous ways; the most basic data storage practices will translate into better customer service, increased professionalism, and ultimately, a stronger bottom line for your business.

Information Gathering There are three distinct stages involved in fitness information gathering. 1. The compiling of all relevant client data before training begins, such as a client information questionnaire, physical activity readiness questionnaire, health history, doctor’s clearance, medical history, etc. 2. The detailed accounts of the training session. 3. All other data and information management. The most savvy trainers practice all three stages. For these professionals, such information management translates to thriving businesses. One way to accomplish this is to create your own “fitness software.” This can be done by utilizing programs that most likely, already are loaded on your computer. A simple solution to customizing your database is to employ Microsoft Excel, a program found in Microsoft Office, a suite of programs bundled onto most operating systems. MS Excel is user-friendly, and it will help you organize information, simplify access to your client data, and enhance the profitability and professionalism of your business. By using Excel you can format charts exactly as you want them–as simple or as complex as your needs dictate. Customizing Data Charts Assuming that you have never used Excel before, following are steps to format and create the most basic data storage charts. While you can learn to perform more elaborate functions with Excel (which is used primarily for financial purposes), including alphabetizing, summation, mathematic formulas and more, this section will focus on organizing your information into a cohesive and concise chart format, easily accessible at a moment’s notice. Keep it simple! Following are some examples of charts we use at my fitness company, TeamHolland LLC. They have proven to be invaluable over the years, and their function far outweighs their form. When a client question arises or I need some specific piece of information, the answer is always at my fingertips. Daily Session Log Chart At the end of each workday I fill out a daily session log (DSL) chart. It contains information on the clients that I trained that day (or should have trained that day!) and a brief, one-word description of the session. It usually takes no longer than

five to 10 minutes to complete, yet it is an essential tool which saves time and money. To create your own DSL chart, follow these simple steps: I Begin by opening up MS Excel. The toolbar at the top of the screen closely resembles that of Microsoft Word. You will then see the page layout–a chart containing numerous boxes, which are referred to as “cells.” The horizontal top line is labeled alphabetically from left to right. The left side of the chart is numerical, vertically enumerated 1, 2, 3, etc. I Place your cursor on the cell “A1” and double-click. This will enable you to type in the cell. I Input the word CLIENT. I Repeat the same steps to access cell “B1” and type in DATE. I Continue this process until you have a top row that resembles the following chart. I The cells themselves are rather small and may require adjustment to fit all of the information inside. If you want your NOTES cell to be able to hold several short sentences then place your cursor on the dividing line between the E and F cells. I Left click and hold it until you see a double-sided arrow. With this arrow, drag the cell dividing line to the right until the cell is the width you desire. I Now fill in all the appropriate information, making the cells as wide or as narrow as needed. I When finished, click on the FILE menu heading above the toolbar, pull down and select SAVE AS, and give the chart a file name. The DSL is my favorite and most useful chart. It provides a concise yet comprehensive snapshot of training activity and eliminates guesswork. You have probably experienced a client’s insistence that he still has one session to complete, when in reality, the training package has been finished. By keeping accurate records, you can simply print out the applicable pages and show your client the exact session number

1 2 3 4 5 CLIENT Joe Smith Mary Williams Bob Jones Beth Connor

DATE 1/1/01 1/3/01 1/3/01 1/4/01

SESSION 2 of 10 Comp 1 3 of 20

PAID Yes N/A No Yes

FOCUS Chest/Back Init. Consult Full Body Canceled

NOTES Pain in right shoulder Purchased 20 sessions Interval training Canceled late -charged

and dates completed. I also utilize this style of chart to illustrate a client’s adherence to her program. Many times clients believe that they have trained much more frequently than they truly have. They forget about the times they may have canceled or taken a vacation. Periodically, I like to provide each client with his or her exact training history, usually at the end of each month. So when a client says she is not getting the results she expected, you can show her that this may be due to her frequent cancellations. And you will have documentation to prove it. The “Training History” chart below is an actual two-month history of a client I was training to climb Mt. Blanc.
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Two-Week Client Snapshot The “Two-Week Client Snapshot” chart on the next page may seem overly simplistic, but anyone who has trained for a long enough period of time knows how difficult it can be to keep track of clients’ dynamic schedules. Clients are constantly changing their times, days, and going on business and vacation trips. Looking ahead creates less confusion and more professionalism. Each day you can access the chart and see what the day and the next two weeks hold. The procedure for creating this chart is exactly the same as the previous one: I Begin by clicking on the top columns and naming them, then fill in the applicable information.

5/2 5/11 5/16 5/25 5/30 6/1 6/6 6/8 6/15 6/20 6/22 6/27 6/29

50 min. run/1 full stairs 30 min. run/2 full stairs 45 min. run 50 min. run run/13 flights 55 min. run 100 flights 57 min. run 57 min. run 58 min., strong run 58 min. run Full-body workout 50 min. run, best yet

stretch stretch push-ups/crunches/stretch 5 sets/10 push-ups/crunches longest run, 1 hour push-ups/crunches/stretch 3 sets/10 push-ups/2 sets crunches stretch/no push-ups/no crunches hot, tough run/13 flights/stretch 3/10 push-ups, 3/30 crunches Very hot, humid/stretch 45 min. run (Brook Br.), 4/10 push-ups, 3/30 crunches push-ups 15/7-5/12, 3/30 crunches



If you’ve ever lost a document after long hours of perfecting it, then you’ve probably learned a hard lesson about backing up your work. Computers crash, and data often is lost. Be sure to back up all your work and keep a hard copy of all important information. Every five minutes or so, save your work to the hard drive. Here’s how:

1 2 3 4 5 6 DATE 1/4/01 1/4/01 1/5/01 1/6/01 1/7/01


EXPENSE Bill Smith $67.50 $250 $85.78 $300

NOTES 10 sessions Business phone bill Photo shoot consulting Business cards Advertising

Click on FILE in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Select and click on SAVE. A shortcut for this is to hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and press the letter S.

1 2 3 4 5 CLIENT Joe Smith Mary Williams Bob Jones Beth Connor

Also back up your files to a floppy disk every few days, just in case something happens to the computer’s hard drive. It takes very little time and can save you hours of grief. To save information on a floppy, do the following: Insert a disk into the floppy drive and click on FILE, then SAVE AS. Give the document a name and press ENTER. I Click on the arrow at the top of the window next to the file in SAVE IN. You will be given a choice of locations where you may save the document or file. I Choose 3-1/2 FLOPPY.

PHONE 555-4649 555-9373 555-0893 555-1963


WEEK OF 1/1 M/W/F @8AM On vacation T/TH @5PM X Out sick

WEEK OF 1/8 Gone until 1/15 M/W/F @7AM T/TH @5PM



That’s it. Now your information is saved and backed up!

Numerous books, Web sites and other resources provide guidance in working with Excel. Some of these include:


Excel 2000 for Windows