At the end of every year I'm always looking for ways that we can improve. I ask myself these 3 questions:

1. How can we expand our reach?
By this I mean, how can we affect the lives of more people in our community (or online). As personal trainers, we work with such a small fraction of the population in our city that most people never get the benefit of having us at least set them up with a proper exercise and nutrition program. So, I'm continually searching for way to touch more lives.

Since we are currently sold out at my personal training studio, this next year we'll be looking to add more "start-up" packages for new clients. What this means is that we will set new clients up with a full nutrition and exercise program that they can then take on their own.

This will allow our CPTs to fill in any holes in their schedules when a client may be away, and of course, we'll be able to work with many more clients that ordinarily wouldn't be able to train with us. We can then follow up with those same clients every 4-6 weeks to design a whole new program for them to keep their results coming.

2. Where are we falling short?
My entire business model is based around providing OUTSTANDING service. That means from the moment a client walks in we are 100% focused on them. Additionally, when they leave our studio we are following up with emails and other means to keep them engaged and on track to achieving their goals.

And, it should come as no surprise that when you follow this model you will retain at least 90% of your clients month after month. To us, retention is the only business metric that really matters, so that is why I always look to see how we can improve our client services.

I feel we do a great job at providing a high end service, but one thing I'd like to see improve this next year is interacting with our clients on a larger level outside of our studio. So what we've decided to do is create more "events" to get our clients coming together as one community. We'll be focused on chatting with members more online and doing outdoor meet-ups during the nice weather for health & fitness based gatherings.

3. In what direction are moving?
It's impossible to be standing still in business. You're either moving forward or backward. Said another way -- you're either setting the pace or you're following someone else's lead...

We're not big on complacency here at our training studio, so that necessitates continual growth and expansion of our scope of practice. That means our training team is studying new material, preparing for new certifications, and also doing a lot of teaching to other CPTs and health groups as well.

It's also been interesting to see that our natural progression has been towards a more holistic and health based practice. We didn't set out to create that, but our collective consciousness has led us that way since our focus is directed towards getting people healthy and fit. For some trainers it might be to build the biggest, bad a** powerlifting gym in their city, so it really just depends on what moves you...

Of course, these questions will spawn many more, but nevertheless if you spend some time really thinking about the answers to these 3 big questions I have no doubt you’ll have your biggest and best year yet!

One interesting thing to keep in mind is that never once did I mention, "How can we increase revenue or profits?" I did that by design. What I've found is that when you focus on people, and NOT profits, money flows to you far more easily. I believe the reason for this is that it is our duty to serve first and provide an outstanding service, through which we will then be rewarded in direct proportion to how much we give of our ourselves...

Here's to having your best year yet!

Stephen Cabral has consulted for MTV, Maxim, Men's Health, NutritionData, SELF, Women's Day, as well as dozens of others. He was named the PFP 2011 Trainer of the Year. He is also a fitness writer, author, studio owner, and the founder of Personal Training Business School. His free fitness business video series, proven strategies and success tips can be found at


How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?