By Dr. Ayla Donlin, Special AFS Contributor

The summer months can be tough on a fitness business.  Clients are traveling or have extra commitments with their kids home for the summer, and we do not see them in our classes as often as we  - and they - would like.

A “summer success” strategy will help your clients plan ahead, and your credibility will be enhanced when you provide specific tips for them to maintain fitness over the summer months (even when they aren’t training with you).

Strategies for Planning Ahead

We suggest a three-step exercise when your clients are mapping out their summer schedules, and we recommend that you go through this exercise with them if possible.  You can then talk through potential challenges and concerns, and you can offer support and strategies for overcoming barriers.

Step #1: Determine Your Rhythms

As they are looking ahead to their summer schedule, ask your client: 

  • What days/weeks/months are you at home, and when are you away? 
  • What will your “typical” week look like (will you even have a “typical” week)?
  • What time of the day will be most conducive to get a workout in?
  • To identify major daily responsibilities, and anticipated sleep/wake and energy rhythms

A sample macro (monthly) and micro (daily) view might look like this:


1-10: Home – regular schedules; kids start swim lessons on 6/5
11 – 16: Family trip to visit Grandparents; call ahead to see if local gym still offers group fitness classes
17 – 20: Home – regular schedules
21 – 25: Ladies trip to Chicago; ask Kim if she can bring guests to her gym
26 – 30: Home – regular schedules


6 am – wake & make breakfast
7 am – wake kids
8 am – take kids to swim lessons
8:30 am – cycle class at gym & personal training session
10 am – pick kids up & head home
12 pm – lunch & shower
1 pm – Meg comes over to babysit & I head to work
6 pm – home & dinner (Meg)
7:30 pm – Joe’s baseball game
11 pm – sleep

Chat through what a “typical” week would look like and what your clients’ goals are related to their fitness during such a week.  Then, discuss their fitness routine in a “non-typical” week.  This gets both you and your client thinking about how to prioritize fitness into their schedule.

Step #2:  Decide Your Workout Locations

Ask your client about workouts outside of sessions with you:

  • Will you workout at home, at the gym, or outdoors? 
  • Are you open to me providing you with fitness “homework” when you are not able to come into the gym?
  • Are you able to check in via e-mail, phone, or text while you are away?

Quick Tips:

  • If your clients know they will be out of their usual rhythm, offer to plan workouts that they can do outside or in a hotel
  • With travel/vacation, time for exercise can be tight.  Help your client plan for shorter workouts when needed (see the Tips section below).
  • Have indoor and outdoor workout strategies based on weather 

Step #3: Share Their Fitness Schedule

For times when you are not able to meet with your clients for their workouts, make sure that they have a back-up accountability partner.  Ask: Who will join you for your workouts? Establishing a workout buddy will help hold them accountable for their weekly workouts. 

When clients are vacationing with family, suggest that they invite them to join in on workouts.  That way, they are not taking away from any time that they could be spending with folks they love, and they are all holding one another accountable for healthy behaviors. 

If they know their family members do not enjoy “working out,” help them plan recreational activities for everyone to enjoy. 

Tips for Success

Some trainers hesitate to give clients advice about exercising outside of paid sessions.  However, we find that clients stay with trainers longer and experience more goal attainment when they have the tools to succeed outside of regularly scheduled sessions.

We recommend that you encourage your clients to use a wearable fitness tracker like MYZONE® that enables you to maintain their workout data as well.

Tip #1: HIIT It

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a quick and effective way to improve fitness. Performing a series of high-intensity work periods with low- or moderate-intensity recovery periods benefits overall cardiorespiratory fitness levels and burns additional calories after the workout.

Since most HIIT workouts only last about 20-40 minutes, we encourage clients to try HIIT on days when they know they will be crunched for time. We also encourage you to inform clients that they should not perform HIIT for all of their workouts (due to risk of overtraining or injury). The high intensities make it appropriate to perform a maximum of 2-3 times per week.

Tip #2: The 10-Minute Workout

Aiming for at least 30 straight minutes of exercise 5 days per week is an excellent goal, but health benefits are still seen when broken into 10-minute bouts of exercise three times per day.

If clients anticipate a tough time fitting in their workouts, encourage them to find that “hidden time” that most of us have in our schedule. Suggest they make 10-minute fitness appointments on their calendar! You can check in with your clients and ask them how many minutes they have accumulated each day.

Tip #3: Exercise Where You Already Are

One of the best ways to help clients stick to their workout routine is to make exercise easily accessible. Here are some recommendations:

  • Keep workout clothes in the car so you can exercise wherever you are when traveling
  • When appropriate, ask your coworkers or your family to go on a “walking meeting” so you can walk and talk.
  • Get your group involved in a workout break (remember, you only need 10 minutes!)
  • Make your social engagements active. Hiking, swimming, and walking make for fun social outings with friends or family!

We hope you find these strategies helpful as you set your clients up for success this summer!


Dr. Ayla Donlin is the director of the LifeFit Center @ The Beach, a health and fitness facility and educational laboratory on the campus of Long Beach State University (LBSU).  Ayla’s passions are fitness, education, and well-being, and as a result, she holds multiple positions within higher education and the fitness industry.

Ayla is a lecturer in the kinesiology department at LBSU and has been teaching courses since 2008 in the fitness and sport studies options.  She is also the chair of the Exercise is Medicine on Campus (EIMOC) Leadership Team at LBSU and advises the EIMOC student organization.

Ayla has been active in the fitness industry for over 12 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, group fitness director, master trainer, and health club general manager. She is currently an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certified personal trainer and an Exercise is Medicine® credentialed fitness professional. 

Ayla also serves as a consultant within the fitness industry.  She has been working with Johnny G. since 2007 as a Master Instructor for Krankcycle® and became a Master Instructor for IN-TRINITY® in 2015.  Ayla is also a Master Trainer for MYZONE®, a wearable physical activity tracker that rewards effort.  She creates educational content for the MYZONE® blog, Podcast, and learning management system.

As a passion and hobby, Ayla has organized, led, and participated in over 100 hours of Spin-a-thon/Krank-a-thon fundraisers benefitting various organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

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