There are lots of pros and cons to being an independent personal trainer. On the plus side, you are your own boss, get to design and implement your clients’ workouts and you collect the lion’s share (or all) of the revenue. The downside is being responsible for everything that happens outside of those training sessions—the scheduling, marketing, paperwork and payment processing are all part of the gig. And, unfortunately, all the time you spend on these things are not billable hours.

Thankfully, technology is stepping up to streamline much of this administrative work. While it will never go away completely, a lot of these processes can now be automated and information can now be accessible from anywhere in the world. Here are the five essential tools for the independent trainer that will help minimize some of the tasks that, although essential to your business, keep you from spending more time with clients.

1. Two-way Scheduling Platform

There may not be a bigger timesaver and headache reliever than a good online scheduling platform. Gone are the endless phone calls, emails and text messages setting up, changing and canceling training sessions. Now it is as simple as entering your availability and allowing clients to schedule, rearrange or cancel when they will come to see you. Many trainers have even seen an increase in revenue when switching to two-way scheduling due to impulse-buy training sessions added by clients when life allows it. Just be sure to block last-minute cancellations.

2. Professional Profile

The Internet has also changed the marketing game for health and fitness professionals and, at a minimum, you need to have a great online profile. This profile should not only detail your knowledge and experience, but clearly demonstrate why someone has no choice but to choose you for their fitness needs. The story of why you became a personal trainer, how you train your clients, the success of your clients and testimonials are all essential components that make a profile stand out. Pictures are great, but videos are even better. Film of all of the above in addition to allowing potential clients to get a great sense of the service you can provide and the personality that will draw them in to stay.

3. Online Payments

Another time and hassle saver is switching all payments of your independent training business from in-person to online. Any process that can be automated when running a one-person show is welcomed and payment is one of the easiest business areas to allow robots to do all the work. Online payment programs can provide automatic billing, electronic funds transfer and receipts. You can move from slaving away at the process to simply managing it.

4. Cloud Storage for Client Records

This may not necessarily be a time-saver unless you are an individual who tends not to file or organize things, but filing client records in the cloud has two huge benefits. First, all your clients’ information is just a few clicks (or screen presses) away. Imagine having the fitness testing records for the five years of a client relationship at your fingertips. Second, the danger of losing this information moves closer to zero. Using cloud storage for client records is essential for availability and safety, not to mention the footprint of hundreds to thousands of paper is gone and it can make your business more eco-friendly.

5. Fitness Tools and Calculators

The final tool that is essential for the independent (or any) trainer focuses on providing more effective training for clients. We are currently in an explosion of technology that assesses clients to determine their fitness starting points, monitors the training process and can evaluate the effectiveness of that training. This explosion can also be overwhelming as choosing which tool to utilize is like trying to pick paint colors. 

Determining which tools and calculators are best depends on the population you are training. Weight-loss clients can benefit from body composition calculators and monitors that track total daily movement, while triathlete clients may benefit from heart-rate training-zone calculators and heart rate and GPS monitors. The key is to choose the tool that will give each you the most bang for your buck. 

Being an independent trainer can be a great career path, but many don’t take into account a lot of the business aspects when choosing it. Every day new technology is making the administration and delivery of personal-training services faster and easier. To be at the top of the fitness game, be sure that you are taking advantage of the essential tools that are available.

If you're interested in starting a rewarding career in fitness, check out the ACE Personal Trainer Certification