// Get focus stay fresh

by Julz Darraoch

Fitness professiona ls are a pretty smart bunch. We work in one of the world’s most positive industries, we get to hang out with a diverse and interesting bunch of people and make real changes to their lives while getting paid!

Despite this, however, we sometimes lose track of the big picture and let the small niggles get the better of us. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you ever feel like you’re losing focus – and let’s face it, who doesn’t have these moments? – then here are some secrets you probably won’t find in a textbook that will put the spring back in your step.

Learn to tell the time

That’s PT time. If you have a client for a 60-minute session between 2pm and 3pm, that’s more than an hour’s work. When booking clients and deciding how many sessions you can fit in, make sure you add in the extra time you need for writing up client notes, invoicing and thinking up new exercises – not to mention eating and breathing.

If you are full to the brim with client contact hours you risk being too tired to be able to keep up with the less exciting behind the scenes ‘admin’ work. Your professionalism should extend beyond your session.

Embrace the old and the new

Many things you believe to be true will be turned on their head anyway – remember spot reduction and the bread diet? Fitness is always changing, research is done, new toys are invented. You can guarantee that by the time you think you’ve seen it all there will be something new to get you excited – and this is a good thing.

Never lose the joy of discovery you felt when you attended your first convention or course, read your first textbook or tried on your first g-string leotard! Don’t close the door on new ideas, because they are what our business is based on. Those who stay still, thinking they know it all, are the ones who will be trampled in the rush to new knowledge. Jump on the treadmill and enjoy the ride.

There are many stepping stones on the path to success

Don’t give up with your first rejection, or second… or thousandth. You can’t expect to put up your notice publicising your PT presence in a club on Monday and have your diary filled by the weekend. Success is like doing push ups, just because you struggle on your first try doesn’t mean you should give up; it’s your cue to try harder.

Try to be a little philosophical when you don’t get it perfect from the start. Look at your progress in relation to where you’ve come from, rather than measuring yourself against others who appear to have achieved more. Your career is not the lottery, it’s not luck that gets you to where you want to be, it’s hard work and consistency. The good news is that in fitness, unlike the lottery, there’s more than one first prize.

It’s easier to work with your friends than with strangers

You know that lady in the gym who’s been coming for years, never gets a program update and seems to know what she’s doing? (She should by now, she’s been doing the same routine since 1985!) Go and say hello to her, congratulate her on her consistency and see if she wants to try something new. You may feel intimidated by some of the members, but did you ever think that maybe they’re a bit intimidated by you?

Think of the gym as your lounge, and you’re having a party. You’re the host so get out there and mingle! Expect for yourself what you accept in others If a prospective client came to you and told you they had no work/life balance, struggle to fit everything in already and cannot for the life of them see how they would be able to start exercising, you’d sit them down and make a plan to help them, right? So why do you allow yourself to get into a similar place, with the balance all out of whack?

The chances are you have the exercise side of things sussed, but what about the other aspects of your life? If your client is genuinely sick and they call you and cancel, do you make them get out of bed to come and see you? No. Then why is that you feel like you should still come in to work when you are at death’s door?

Being a role model is not about achieving greatness and making it look easy, it’s about showing you can achieve greatness even though it’s hard work. We can’t expect our clients to live the dream if we don’t get real and let ourselves be human.

Never stop surprising yourself

Sure, it’s nice to be comfy and have a good grasp of what you are doing, but don’t ever stop taking risks and trying new things. Many of your clients never thought of themselves as the ‘personal trainer/gym type’ and then they met you and were surprised at how much they learnt and gained. Give yourself the chance to feel just like them; try a group exercise class or get a personal trainer if you haven’t got one already. Remind yourself why you love this industry!

Success means nothing if you have nobody to share it with

Take a deep breath and let yourself say ‘no’ to the client who wants to workout on your day off. If you make plans outside of work time make sure you keep them. It’s easy to work long hours when you’re having fun, just make sure it’s not your only fun!

You’ll find that it’s lonely when there’s nobody there to listen at the end of a tough day except your cat. Sure, you have great relationships with your clients, but make sure you also save time for those who don’t pay you – your friends, family and loved ones.

A long and successful career in the health and fitness industry is within the reach of every one of us, as long as we spend some time now to make sure we always have the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy it – and keep on enjoying it!


Julz Darroch

Julz is a New Zealand-based fitness educator and trainer who runs her own fitness business. A 16-year veteran of the industry she’s been victim to more fitness fads and shiny lycra than she would ever admit. Julz is a regular contributor to NZ magazines and web sites, and also appears on NZ television’s ‘Good Morning’ show. For more information e-mail julz@julzdarroch.co.nz or visit www.julzdarroch.co.nz