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Avoid the Rut: How Personal Trainers Can Stay In Great Shape And Get More Clients

An article for personal trainers and fitness pros who want to regain their health and fitness, maintain their best body, get more clients, and build a better business.

Get Out of the Rut

Avoid the rut at all costs.

The Gradual Decline Of My Body And Business


Calvin before and after getting back in shape.

That’s me on the left…and me on the right.

Let’s talk about the photo on the left for a minute. Give it a good look. It was taken nearly 2 years ago.

The guy in that photo was a personal trainer and coach who had been working in the fitness industry for nearly 10 years.

He was a former NCAA All-American Athlete who had once experienced the heights of peak physical performance. But in the photo, he was a shadow of his former self.

And even though he was fit and healthy by “average people standards”, he was embarrassed about the way he looked. You can tell just by looking at his face.

He doesn’t look too happy does he?

Why I Felt Trapped There (And Nearly Gave Up)

After 10 years of pulling crazy hours at the gym to help my clients get in better shape I realized I had grossly neglected my own needs.

I had spent so much of my time and energy focused on helping others that there wasn’t anything left for me.

It got to the point where I was nearly burned out. On working out and eating well. On caring about body composition. I was even sick of simply being in the gym.

Sure, I’d still try to eat healthy and do the bare minimum workouts. But I just didn’t care as much any more. I skipped too many workouts. And when I did go, I wasn’t really pushing myself. I knew what to do, but my motivation had dried up.

I hate to admit this, but I even got close to quitting the fitness industry altogether and giving up on the career I had committed my life to.

The Truth: Thousands Of Trainers Feel Like This

Back then I felt like I was the only personal trainer who had ever felt this way.

Now I realize I was feeling sorry for myself. As a coach in the S2B Coaching Program, I hear from personal trainers, chiropractors, coaches, and other fitness professionals every day. And for many of them, before joining S2B, they were going through the exact same thing.

They’d built up a business in the fitness industry but had hit a professional and personal rut. This rut made them look worse than they had in years, and feel unmotivated, embarrassed, even a little ashamed.

What amazes me the most is the quality of these guys: they’re otherwise successful and healthy. But they were struggling with the same questions I had two years ago. Stuff like:

“Is this it? Is this how my life is going to be?”

“I can’t believe I let myself get to this point.”

“Is this what I have to look forward to from now on?”

“What should I do next?”

These trainers needed to break out of their rut and achieve the growth and success they knew they were capable of. Their body and their business depended on it.

But like me, they needed to experience two things:

1. The gradual decline of their own health and fitness.

Missing workouts; wanting to get out of the gym as soon as possible; not getting enough sleep; skipping meals and being nutritionally unprepared for the day.

2. Feelings of discouragement about the future of their business.

Not getting great results with clients; working long and weird hours; questioning if it’s what they want to do for the rest of their life.

From Rock Bottom To Bouncing Back How I Got Back On Track

For a while I was on autopilot. I showed up to the gym, trained my clients, and went home. It was a boring routine, and I was starting to feel a little hypocritical.

Sure, I looked fit and healthy from my clients’ perspective. But I knew the truth: helping people get in shape had become a job, and I was doing the equivalent of showing up to an office and checking Facebook all day.

I wasn’t helping my clients as much as I could have. And I certainly wasn’t helping myself.

But then, 2 years ago, a question popped into my head that demanded an answer:

“What kinds of things were happening in my life when I looked and felt my absolute best?”

I struggled with that question all morning.

So I cancelled my afternoon clients, sat down with a pen and paper, and brainstormed.

And three important things emerged:

1. Body: If you take care of your body, the rest of your life will catch up.

Personally, I realized that the catalyst for growth and change in my life had always been rooted in my body. Whenever I was taking care of my own health and fitness, all other areas of my life naturally followed suit and took care of themselves.

By neglecting my physique because I was too busy dealing with clients, I was self-sabotaging other areas of my life.

2. Coaching: A coach or mentor will hold you accountable and push you to be your best.

From my wrestling coach to my college strength coach to some very influential college professors, I always loved my life when I had mentors I trusted.

Each one of my coaches provided me with guidance, words of encouragement, clear direction and, most important, accountability.

I had been missing any kind of coach or mentor for close to 10 years.

3. Competitive Team Environment: Being a part of a team fosters growth, challenge, and fulfillment.

I realized I was at my best when I was part of something more than myself.

For me, this meant being part of a team in a competitive environment. In the past, it had kept me from becoming too wrapped up in my own selfish desires. And it pushed me to accomplish great things.

What Happened Next (More Than I Ever Expected)

When I came up with my health and success formula two years ago, I had no idea where it would lead my personal fitness or my business.

As it turns out, it led to me joining the S2B Coaching Program in May 2011.

A year later, I was in the best shape of my life, I had a full load of clients who were getting awesome results, and I felt better than I had in years.

(It even led to me winning the $10,000 Grand Prize and being offered a job as a coach in the program, an offer I quickly accepted.)

But while I wanted to share my personal story with you, this isn’t about me.

Dozens of trainers have used the “health and success formula” to rebuild their bodies, improve their lives, and build better businesses. I know because I’ve helped them do just that.

Here’s how they’ve taken control over their body and life, and how you can do it too.

The Bottom Line: You Can Do It

If you’re a personal trainer, you can be in awesome shape, maintain a great lifestyle, and run a successful business helping people.

I know because I did it. In fact, I still do it. And you can do it, too.

Through the S2B Coaching Program, we’ve helped pull dozens of trainers and fitness professionals back from the brink of burn-out.

If you’re game, we’d love to help you too.

But whatever you do, remember this: You can’t help others if you don’t first take care of yourself.

About the Author: Calvin Buhler is a Scrawny to Brawny Coach. You can find him on Facebook.

9 Responses to Avoid the Rut: How Personal Trainers Can Stay In Great Shape And Get More Clients

  1. Adam Lee says:

    If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought Calvin Buhler was my pen name, the way you and I have shared similar experiences, thoughts, etc. Great article! I so empathize with your sentiment.

    Although not the S2B program, I recently completed the Lean Eating Program. Because of it, the knowledge it provided, and the confidence it has given me, I am without a doubt a better trainer.

    Calvin, you are so right when you talk about your health and fitness pouring over into other areas of your life. I once heard Martin Rooney say [paraphrase], “How can you take a client somewhere you’ve never been before yourself?” Precision Nutrition took me to that place . . . and now I’m taking clients with me!

    • Adam,

      Like I mentioned in the article, I used to think I was alone in this thinking, but once I finally opened up about it I realized that there’s a whole bunch of us fitness professionals in this same boat.

      Interestingly enough, right now about 1/4 of my clients have careers in the fitness industry.

      Thanks for sharing the Martin Rooney statement. It’s so true!

      • Seriously you hit the nail on the head with a large hammer here, you should go one step further and put together some form of business style help package together …I now have a lifestyle coach and a trainer but still feel I have overworked myself into a ‘ job’ situation a career per se I think training is dead in the water and lean a lot towards coaching and away from training, at times I think the ” profession” has lost its way..just some random thoughts…

      • I completely agree with you. In fact I could write a whole article on the differences between a coach and a trainer.

  2. You right, I’m busy all the time, got some injuries, and stop doing exercise, didn’t watch what I was eating, but I’m back on the wagon again, as I hired a personal trainer to get back in shape again, and start eating clean again.

    • Good for you! I’m sure you’re trainer will take good care of you, which will free you up a little to focus on other things in your life.

  3. Sophie Jane says:

    I’m so glad this has been posted. I definitely felt like this and unfortunately for me I actually gave up my job as a trainer. I felt like it was taking over my hobbie and made what I loved to do seem like a chore!!!!

  4. Fantastic post Calvin, one I can definitely relate to now I am at the end of my S2B year. It can be difficult to admit when you are in a rut – I think sometimes trainers can put a lot pressure on theselves and feel the need to do everything and be everything; getting a coach and accountability is one of the best things a trainer can do, in my opinion…thanks for sharing your story Calvin.

    • This was actually one of the hardest blog/articles I’ve ever written and its because it’s so difficult for me to admit my weaknesses and be vulnerable enough to talk about them.

      Sadly, that is the exact same reason why it took me so long to get the help that I needed from a coach/program like S2b. I was just too embarrassed, ashamed, prideful, etc. to admit that I needed help.