Did you ever hear the analogy of the shoemaker with holes inhis shoes? ...or the dentist with bad teeth?

Too often professionals find themselves too busy taking careof their businesses and their clients to look after themselves. This all-too-commonphenomenon hits almost every trainer at some point. Long hours, fatigue,burnout, stress and lack of focus combine to create a situation where itbecomes really easy for your fitness levels to slip. When you are around fitnessand training all of the time, there are periods when the last thing you want todo with your free time is work out.

I can say that after 20+ years in the industry, it hashappened to me on more than one occasion. It has taken some real focus, disciplineand planning for me to maintain my edge and actually remain a fitness rolemodel for my clients. The way that I've done this is to treat myself likea client and design a plan for me that evolves and changes over time.

When we meet with a client, one of the first things that wedo is create a "Yearly Plan." It is an idea that we have adopted fromJuan Carlos Santana's Fundamentals training manual. I reallybelieve that this is THE most important part of a personal training plan andwill determine if someone is successful or not. It is the roadmap and the guidethat will influence every single workout that you do.

To make someone's (in this case, my) plan meaningful andeffective, we take a Yearly Planner and write in "peaking moments" onthe planner itself. In my case, the Warrior Dash race in July, hockey season inOctober, beach holiday in November, mountain bike race in April and then thenext Warrior Dash in July again. The point is to create mini-periodizationplans so that it doesn't feel like you are on an endless treadmill getting younowhere.

To prepare for hockey season requires an entirely differenttype of training and different nutrition than looking good on the beach! I lookat the length of each of the mini-plans and then break them down into training "phases."As each plan will be of a different length, the phases will be anywhere betweentwo and four weeks in length. Knowing that any plan or program you are doingwill change in four weeks or less makes it much easier to stick with and toreally focus on a specific outcome.

The different phases that we use at All Canadian Fitness areConditioning, Strength, Hypertrophy, Endurance and Metabolic Training. Thesewords have become part of our language and make it simple to know what ANYONEis working on at any time.

We all have to work out and eat right, and the Yearly Planand phase training has given me a valuable tool to prevent me from losing myfocus and then losing my fitness edge. Doing it myself has also given me the opportunityto tweak things for our clients as I have found out what works best and whatjust doesn't work.

If you don't look after YOU first, you cannot help yourclients. If you don't help THEM, you won't have a business and you will nolonger be an entrepreneur.

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).