By Jonny and Yusef
You’ll notice that a lot of personal trainer dashboard apps are designed to hook you in (watch this video for an overview and comparison of some of these) . They have all the flashing lights and exciting bits for the coach. But actually, when it comes to managing your personal training clients, simplicity is best. This is where Notion fits into the big picture of becoming a profitable online fitness coach.
Getting the basics right before delving into software
We’re going to talk about how Notion supports some of the key foundational structures of your business as an online personal trainer – software, tech, and productivity. This is not something that will not get you more clients, and it will not help you to close more sales. If you’re struggling with those things, then having the right logo and the right piece of software, or optimising your landing page, are all secondary to having a reliable sales mechanism. You can watch this video to make sure you’re getting the basics right before you begin thinking about what sort of software and other tools and systems you’ll use to manage clients.
How Notion will help your experience as a coach
Whether you like it or not, as a coach you are a knowledge worker. Your goal is to get a client from A to B using your knowledge and experience. To be able to do that properly, you need to be able to manage your own knowledge, and manage your clients’ data.
As a coach, you add value through three key areas; information, accountability and objectivity.
Your job as a coach is to condense your experience and your knowledge into something actionable for your clients.
And for that, you need an internal reference guide, or a ‘second brain’ (you can hear us talk about this in more detail in this podcast episode with Tiago Forte). The next step is interfacing that with your clients and giving them access to those resources. The goal here is to be able to copy and paste the best version of you, and send that to your clients so that you give them the best, and the most standardised, experience.
This is the version of you that you want to see coaching your clients, rather than a sleep-deprived version, writing an off-the-cuff email about protein to your clients at 11pm.
This is where Notion can help you. We’ve spent a lot of my time looking around and testing out different types of Second Brain apps, but are still convinced that Notion is the best.
Notion is great for collaborative, nested documents. It’s also got instant online sync, and it’s cross-platform, so you don’t never have to worry about compatibility issues.
It also seems to be the first bridge between database nerds and having a clean interface, and it gives you the best of both worlds. Before Notion, you either had to coach clients in the matrix, using binary to communicate with them… or use a heavily bloated app that was clearly made by someone who’s never set foot in a gym.
Is Notion for you?
We use a mixture of Notion and Google Docs. We use Google Docs for the more powerlifting-oriented clients, because we find it useful for calculations, RPE-based programming and percentage-based stuff. But if your coaching is more qualitative, and you’re looking for a nicer-looking client experience, Notion might be the best option for you. It’s also fantastic if you’re after maximum flexibility, and the initial setup is fairly straightforward.
We recommend that you build your systems once, so that they’re perfect for you, rather than fumbling with someone else’s interface. And since it’s very customisable, it will get better over time as you’ll be able to adapt your whole dashboard and process depending on client feedback.
Building the Master View
Once you’ve dealt with onboarding, you can then build the master view. This is where you can see all of your clients in one go and see things like what’s been updated, who hasn’t checked in for a while, and who needs a new programme. With Notion, you can see all of this on one page.
You can also build your programme templates as buckets, for clients who fit into different categories. Over time, as you build your client base, you’ll find that clients will start to fall into different categories. You can then customise your programme templates depending on the client’s individual requirements. You can store those template programs into your dashboard, add them into your client programmes, and customise them as needed.
So, how do you do this?
The basics of Notion
We’re going to walk you through some of the basics below, but you will probably find it helpful to also watch the demo in this video, to see everything step-by-step and see what our own dashboard looks like on Notion. We found that the best way to learn how to use Notion is to have a play around with everything to see how it works and test out the features; it’s probably best to start with something quite simple, and build on it over time.
Notion allows you to type things into documents, and has a sidebar where all of your different spaces and folders are held. You can access all of these quickly using the command palette.
We use notion for client management, and also for processes within the business. We have a Propane central dashboard, and keep everything there in a table format. Notion also allows you to add all of your own branding to a dashboard.
In a similar way to excel, you can handle tasks by tagging them. Notion will handle the pipeline of content, and you can also create links to specific pages.
Formatting on Notion is pretty simple, with shortcuts for creating headings, typing in different colours and highlighting text. You can also create tables, which allows you to reference different pages and opens up lots of potential.
Creating a client management template
Creating a client dashboard gives clients everything they need in one place, and they can add this to their favourites, or to their home page to access it easily.
On our own dashboard, we’ve got a training overview which tells clients things like when and how to check in, and how to track their macros. We have a master template that we then duplicate for new clients and adapt it as needed for them.
It’s really useful to be able to easily customise your dashboard and text within that. For example, on our own overview document on our dashboard, we highlight text in green that we’ll need to adapt for each client, and we’re able to edit things like macro targets. The great thing about anything you create for clients on Notion is that they will also show up on your clients’ CRM. You can even share a client’s dashboard with them, and allow them to edit this and make comments.
To sum up, you can use Notion to create your master template, duplicate that into your client notes, invite their email, add links to resources, and build everything up over time.
Your master template will become something that’s really valuable in itself, and it’s the signpost for where your clients go in the future.
You can even comment on specific things within a client’s dashboard – for example, notes on their warmup or technique, which they’ll be able to see as a notification within that space.
The client dashboard works really well as a shared notepad for discussing goals with clients, too. It’s all really customisable, allowing you to create a note based on a specific discussion with your client, and creating a canvas that allows you to collaborate with your client in a really smooth way.
What you can do next
If you’re looking for ways to get more clients or close sales, we cover a full walkthrough of how to build the smoothest client onboarding experience in our full programme. If you’re interested, you can book in a call with us here to find out more. You can also visit this link to access our How-to guides .
You can try out Notion here, and you can also find a link to a Notion client management template here.
For a run-through of the personal training software market in 2022, and to find out which app we use for online personal training at Propane, watch the video below: