Personal Trainer Tools: Pros and Cons of your scheduling system

Which personal trainer tools you use; And specifically how you manage your personal training schedule. Has a big impact on the time you spend working outside of the gym.
Here I lay down my findings when it comes to using Google Calendar, Hotmail or any of your phone’s calendar. Along with any booking system (WordPress plugins etc ). To manage your Personal Training schedule. If that’s what you use, continue reading and let me know if you recognize some of the issues I mention. I would be interested to know how you mitigate the risks and wasted time that comes with it.
If you use a physical planner, I recommend you to read this article as well!

If you are just starting your PT business, read on for awareness’ sake but then go straight to using JustTrain. And save yourself many struggles and much wasted time 😛

Before we dive in the Pros and Cons though. Let’s take a look at what a scheduling system should enable you and your clients to do. If i missed anything, please let me know in the comments section.
Having spent more than a decade in software engineering, I will express those as requirements. Requirements for you, and for your clients, whether you train your clients in-person, online or both.
Here it goes,
A good scheduling system for personal trainers should fulfill those requirement (one need per line):

You get it, a scheduling system must be far more than just a calendar, it’s all basically all you do in your routines to fulfil those requirements and makes sure this aspect of your personal training business runs smoothly, with as little wasted time, no-show & missed payments as possible.

Personal Trainer Tools: Pros and Cons of your scheduling system - Requirements


There are a lot of Free Personal Trainer Tools to build a good scheduling system

Most calendar tools are free. And come with your email (hotmail, gmail, other email providers…). If you have just a few clients. Or ask them all to book sessions by sending you requests directly by email, this works and is fully free.
If you allow clients or future clients to book PT sessions directly without sending you emails etc. There are also a lot of free tools out there. Most PTs make appointments available via their website using a wordpress plugin. And there are many free ones out there.
The paid & fully featured versions of those cost around $15/month, which means that your PT business can save anything between $100 and for $400/year on that fact alone.

Calendar and scheduling tools are mature

People build software. And like everything people build. It is not unusual for it to take some time before it is mature and functional in the real world.
But in this era, Major Calendar providers and Scheduling plugins have reached maturity. So it’s rare today to see bugs and usage misfit in tools when it comes to booking and calendars. And those can be used as personal trainer tools. So if you built your system upon proven tools like Gmail and Booked you will enjoy a bugfree, easy to use and fully featured general scheduling system.

You already use and know some of these tools

Most of us have already added an event in our phone calendar, cancelled or rescheduled it. We have already opened an event in our email and accepted it. This makes a system built on top of those tools easy to adopt. And easy to use on a daily basis. As it does not require any learning curve. This does not apply to the booking system. But luckily most of those booking systems do integrate with our easy to use – no learning needed – calendars.


Free is not really Free

Most calendar come with your email, which is free… Until you reach a certain size of storage. At which point, you will have to pay in order to keep receiving emails and adding calendar events. But okay, this is usually quite cheep. The real cost in your existing personal trainer tools is not on the calendar but on the booking system. Most free booking tools will not have all the features you need. In order to use it as one of your personal trainer tools. You will still end up paying a one time or recurring fee, for the best booking tools. One time fees can go up to $100. Recurring fees can be anywhere between $5 and $40/month.

That’s not where it stops, those booking tools usually need to be integrated to your website.
If you have chosen the right booking tool (see next point). It will be easy and you may have done it yourself in just a couple of hours or days. But many end up paying a web developper to integrate the booking tool (or plugin) on the website. That costs money too.

Too many option

This part is not relevant for the calendar as most of us use one of the 3 Tech Giants Calendars. But when it comes to choosing a booking tool. As part of your personal trainer tools. There are so many of them out there… some free, some paid, some that integrates with your existing calendar. Others not…. That simply choosing the right one is overwhelming and time consuming.
And when you do choose one based on your current needs. It works well for months or years. Only to realize that you now need to change it; Because it does not support what your business now need.

You miss a tracking tool

A calendar shows you what you will be busy with and have been busy with. A booking tool allows people to book your time. And usually syncs with your calendar so you can view which time has been booked. What those 2 things, even together do not do is. Easily allowing you to mark and see when a PT session was attended.
This makes you add a tool to your system. And forces you to consistently and manually synchronize your calendar, booking and tracking tools. Making you spend countless  hours tracking which session was attended. And find out how many sessions your client has access to based on what was paid.

You have no visibility on your clients schedule

A calendar shows you what you will be busy with…. A booking tool allows people to book your time,.,… you know that story.
The way I see it; Most PT scheduling systems and personal trainer tools chosen to build it have a major flaw. They leave no option when it comes to knowing when your client is and is not available. This creates problems when you train someone online or need to reschedule. I know you are a great PT and don’t mind texting with your client to reschedule an appointment. I also know that texting and chatting is part of your Job.
But seriously. Wouldn’t it be better to reschedule in 2 clicks? (one for you, one for your client).
Then talk about things that truly matter. Like how they are dealing with the new nutrition plan, or whatever obstacle they are facing at the moment?

Not a fit for online personal training

if you provide online PT services; One of your personal Trainer tool should allow you to see which client did and did not do their workouts. You should be able to have one view with all so you can reach out, ask questions give suggestions etc. The same way you cannot see your clients schedule to reschedule sessions. You can’t reasonably see your online clients on your calendar. And if you did as the tools are, you would have so many appointments at the same time…  So many slots in your calendar that cannot be booked etc…

Email notifications are not enough

When your client books a PT session via your website. The booking tool of your choice syncs the event to your calendar, you then see it on your phone. Fantastic!!!

30 minutes (or whatever you configured if you could configure it) before the session. You run into your client at the supermarket nearby your appointment location. As you start chatting you get a notification on your phone and an email. You smile and tell your client how funny it is to get the notification right now. Your client smile and you go on to your business then meet him/her 30 minutes later for the Workout… It was a great workout, all workouts this day were great.

In the evening, you check your emails and see the appointment email notification only then. Thinking that’s not really useful now…. Well at the same time your client sees and thinks exactly the same thing…

You need App notifications on your clients’ devices

Most booking systems send an email to plan the event. And one for a reminder notification. They do not integrate and automatically add the event to your client’s calendar with a reminder.
Even the ones that do integrate the best with calendars. Will rely on the client opening the event email on their phone. And they do not guarantee a phone notification reminder.

So yeah… in the described scenario that’s all good, as you were meeting at the supermarket. But don’t be mad at your clients if they miss an appointment that was re-scheduled or at an unusual time. Instead use better personal trainer tools and give them proper notifications 🙂