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Session #006 - Why the Hell are You Writing a Program?

Show notes:

 Hey there, Marc here, and you are listening to the epic personal trainer podcast. Helping new personal trainers with all things business that they didn't learn on their courses.

And the focus of today's session. Which is session number six. Is about why you should be writing programs for each and every client you have.

Now I know the title for this is kind of the opposite. So, I mean, it's a little bit click-baity. But this question is an honest and true reaction I've seen some trainers make when they see another train or even a gym member walking around the gym with a plan.

Now for me, a plan is an essential part of being a personal trainer and every client should have one. Why? You ask, well, so happy you did, because that's the whole purpose of today's session.

So I've got a few reasons why you should be writing a program for each and every client that you have under your guidance.

So to start off with having a custom plan helps your client know that there is an actual plan in place, a proven plan.

It's also a plan that they can see and touch. It's something they can physically hold, that they can follow. That will give them a lot of confidence with an in the process of training with you.

Now, think of it like this. If you're a potential client and you're trying to choose between two trainers that you might hire. One trainer just basically turns up and gives you an improvised workout. But the other trainer has a detailed plan for you to follow. You're going to have far more confidence that the trainer with a plan is going to be able to help you better.

Also, I bet that same personal trainer, as a side note, will probably charge a lot more as well. This is because having that plan demonstrates a lot more value than a trainer that's just winging it. And people will be happy to pay extra for it.

Now your client has got on paper your knowledge, experience and it's their demonstrated on those pages in black and white. So it really helps the client to get onboard with the process.

Another advantage of the program is that it is a schedule. It's not just a list of what to do. It's a schedule of what to do on this day, week, one, week, two, week three.

Most people are task orientated. That means that they can get things done better when they know what they need to do, it's laid out in front of them and they can literally tick things off as they go along.

So a lot of people like to work that way. Working off to-do lists and stuff like that helps them be productive and get stuff done.

So it can help them with their consistency and their adherence to the program because it's laid out in front of them in a nice, easy to follow way. So just for them to be able to see it and having it in a structure, it's what's going to get them to stay up to date with their training and be consistent.

Now next up. As a trainer, you can not remember everything you do with a client in a session.

So if you've got like 15 or even eight clients that you're seeing one-to-one, there's just no way in the world you can remember all those sessions and sets and exercises. To know what exercise was performed, what order they were in or how many reps were done and what weight was used.

It's impossible!

You can't think back to a week last Wednesday for a particular client and just know instantly what weight you performed, whether they found it easy or difficult or anything like that. So you need to have things written down and you also need to collect some data.

So, how do you know when or how much to increase reps or weights or even decrease if what you did last time, didn't work out so well? You just can't remember it all, it's impossible.

You need to know the right time to make decisions, the right decisions. So you're not stuck on 20 kilo dumbbells for four weeks in a row on a chest press because you couldn't quite remember. "Did I do 20 or 18 last time? Did we do eight or 10 reps? I don't know."

So you don't know what you did last week, never mind and what you started with on week one. So by collecting the data, we can make these decisions, even within a session, or from session to session.

Doing it this way makes sure that progress is better for the client as we work through the program. So we need to track it and we need to write it down.

And by collecting all this data of sets, reps, weights, grips, all that kind of stuff. You're going to be able to make better and better decisions based on their performance and the results that you're getting. So you can refine your program or write a better revision of one when the time is right.

More data equals better decisions.

Now, at the end of the day a program's going to help you do your job better. Once you've written that program and you start to execute that program with a client, remember it is not completely set in stone, you can be flexible. You can make adjustments, you can refine things.

You might need to change an exercise, regress or progress something. Little tweaks that you can make so you can get the most out of your client and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. You know, you should be doing in fact,

So another great reason for writing a program is that you have a history of what's been done with that client.

This can be used for a couple of reasons.

If you go back over your planning, maybe you're going to write a new training phase, you can see back in history as to what worked, what didn't work and how your client performed.

Because you've kept that program and the tracking and the history of what's been done.

Also, if there's any kind of issues you've got everything there. You've got the evidence there about how your client performed, what was used and how hard they found it. That can basically help squash any kind of potential issues that somebody might have if somebody questions you about what you've been doing.

And that can happen from time to time.

Now in case you didn't already know, I come from the fitness industry in the UK where pretty much all trainers that I ever came into contact with create programs and they track their client's progress.

So I've been brought up in the industry where it's just a standard thing to do. It's just what you do.

And you have your flow. There is a client consultation, you find out about the client because, like we keep saying, it's personal training and we need to find out about the person to be able to make the training more personalised, more relevant and customised for them.

So once we've done that, we would write it down as a program and we would work through it in each session.

If you're not writing down the plan, you're just guessing from session to session and that's not efficient, you're just given a workout. Any idiot can do that.

It's just not personal training. It's just giving a workout, it is a guided session. And people can get plenty of free ones off the internet. You can follow a video on YouTube. And if that's what you're doing why are clients paying you?

At Invictus, every trainer writes a program for every single client and we track as much detail as we can because it helps us do our jobs better.

In fact, one of our previous trainers, shout out to Anagha, she was doing a little bit of freelancing on the side in a different part of the city. She's very professional trainer and she wrote the program out. And while she's working at this other gym, walking around with a client, with a clipboard and a program on it since she was recording everything.

The trainers were kind of teasing her about it.Why are you writing that program?" "Why are you wasting your time putting a program out?"

Now, Anagha knows that writing the program is the right thing to do. It's professional. She can get better results. She knows what she's doing. So I don't think she took it to heart too much.

She realised that it actually says more about them than her. But it just shows you that not enough trainers really value this planning side of things. Too many just focus in the moment of that one session and give a standalone workout. And like we said, you can totally do that.

You can go online, you can buy a generic program, download a free one...A goal-based thing and just follow that. So, if that's possible and that's what you're doing, what's the point in a client hiring you?

You're just giving time and that's not personal training.

So, write a plan, print it off, put it on a phone, track it. See how your client performs within a session or from session to session.

Record data set to set, because it's going to really help you make more intelligent decisions as a trainer and that's going to help your clients stick to the plan and get better results.

So it's a win-win for everybody.

Now, I know it takes time. You might have to do a bit of research too, but it's part of the job.

It's also another reason for you to try and get out of the mindset and structure of charging for sessions because we do need to work outside of sessions. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into the process for trainers that is not within the confines of a one hour session, three times a week.

Now, I have a free resource for you. So if you want to download a template that will help you write programs much faster, I have one on the website. It is based on Excel and I created it years ago so that it will help me with speeding up how I write programs for my clients.

It basically works with drop down system. So you have a dropdown menu for body parts, like a chest exercise. You click on that drop down and then when you go to the next drop down, it'll list a bunch of chest exercises. If you want back exercises, you click on the drop down and then the next one this time lists all back exercises, it will change.

You can select things like grips and stance and the piece of equipment that you want to use.

It's even got room for things like, tempo and rest. And you can adjust the sets that you want to perform.

So it's really flexible, really, really powerful and it really does help speed up the process of writing programs.

When it's finished it looks really, really good. It's fully editable so you can add exercises, you can delete exercises. You can add your own branding, your own logo and your own colours.

It's completely up to you.

If that sounds good and you feel like you could make some good use of it, you can download it for free.

Just head over to and you can see the 'Program Builder Template' and you can download it, like I said, for free.

You will need Excel to be able to use it.

It will help you create amazing programs really fast. It looks professional as well, and you will be proud to hand it over to your clients.

So take a look and if you think it can help you feel free to download it and use it as you see fit.


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