Summer is almost over and it's "Back to School" time again. While parents celebrate their children's return to class and a bit of freedom throughout the day, fitness professionals rejoice at the return of their clients who have gone missing during the summer vacation months. There is no doubt that many people switch modes in July and August and take a breather from everyday activities... which often include everyday fitness activities.

While January is the start of the new calendar year, there can be a case made for September being the "real" start of the new year. School's back on, sports leagues start up; workers come back from holidays, the new television season start and the season changes. For fitness pros, this is a GREAT thing. Beyond the obvious benefit of increased cash flow with returning and new clients, the new start allows you to do some planning with your current clients.

People hire fitness pros for a number of reasons. They typically seek out a personal trainer when they are experiencing frustration or pain. The expertise of the trainer will help the client move past a sticking point and get back on track towards a goal. Once the goal is met, the new challenge for the trainer is to help the client figure out what the next goal could be. I find that many good trainers are lacking in this area and have client relationships that fizzle because they fail to give their clients a glimpse of the future and what could be next.

What I suggest all trainers should do in September (and in January) is to book time to do a new "intake" with your current clients. Find out how they are feeling. Ask them what they have been noticing since starting their program with you. Get them to describe, in detail, what is different in their lives and then ask them if they are experiencing any frustrations. Believe me, while we all love to hear about the good stuff, if you don't hear about the negatives from your clients, you will lose them.

After taking stock of your client's current state of mind and their progress in moving towards a goal, plan out the next stage of their training program. Pick real world events to get ready for. Races, weddings, photo-shoots, seasons, vacations etc... This allows you to design a plan that is compelling, exciting and motivating for the client. Rather than feeling like a hamster on a running wheel, they will be engaged and excited about what they are doing. They will also be more likely to stick to your instructions between workouts and get better results.

Paint a picture that is compelling enough and you will have happy, successful clients that sing your praises and become walking, talking billboards for you and your business.

Ernie Schramayr is an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and the owner of All Canadian Fitness, a private training studio in Hamilton, Ontario (www.allcanadianfitness.com).

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