At some point, almost every client may use the excuse “I don’t have time for exercise,” and every fitness professional should be prepared to handle this common barrier to health behaviors. It’s probably true that some clients have busier lives than others, work longer shifts, have more responsibilities outside of work, etc., but we are all given 24 hours per day, and what we do in those 24 hours is entirely within each person’s control. 

I don't have time

Whether your client insists they only have time for your weekly session and nothing else, OR if they consistently cancel their sessions with you, here are a few ways that you can help your clients eliminate their excuses and barriers for not making time for health and fitness.

Time Audit

Encourage your client to complete this time audit below and reflect on how they can redistribute their time to make exercise and healthy habits happen.

Work: ______ hours per week

Sleep:______ hours per week

Commute: ______ hours per week

Errands: ______ hours per week

Family Time: ______ hours per week

TV/Phone Time: ______ hours per week

Add the number of hours above. That’s your “Total Hours.”

Now do this equation: 168 – (Total Hours) = Weekly hours you have for exercise. If you have more than 7 extra hours left over, you have no more excuses!

30 Minute Personal Training Sessions

Many trainers prescribe a 60-90 minute training session because it commands a little more income and allows enough time for thorough warm-up, workout, and cooldown. By limiting clients to longer sessions, you might be encouraging them to opt out of exercise instead of offering shorter session options. Consider a 30 or 45-minute option for busy clients. Incorporating programming like short HIIT sessions will make it possible to get a complete and intense workout in a shorter amount of time.

Group Classes

For those clients who highly value social time, encouraging them to attend a group class or offering a group training session might be the perfect fit. Group classes offer a little more energy, a little more fun, and can make combining social hour with fitness worth their time.


Do you ever get the last minute text saying, “I totally forgot about our session. I didn’t put it in my calendar!” Most people are pretty good at scheduling hair appointments, brunch dates, and work meetings, so why aren’t they just as conscientious about making a date with their fitness?

Help your clients schedule out their exercise by having them open up their calendar immediately after their session. They can use a paper planner, iPhone calendar, wall calendar, notebook, anything that they will consistently use to make plans to better their health.

If they can establish a habit of putting it in their calendar, their mind and their body will remember when it’s time to exercise.

Weekly Workout Schedule


For the busiest of clients, maximizing their everyday activities and turning them into a little extra exercise or as I say, “Extracise,” may be helpful. “Extracise” can be parking the car at the furthest end of the parking lot at work or the grocery store, taking 5-10 minutes to stretch or walk every few hours at work, choosing to take the stairs over the elevator, doing exercises during commercial break while watching TV, or even doing squats or calf raises while brushing your teeth.

Get creative and assign some “Extracise” to your clients throughout the week, tailoring your chosen activities to their lifestyle and preferences. Making it both doable and enjoyable will increase the likelihood that they will remember and want to do it!

Home Workouts

For many people, traveling across town to a gym or training studio is half the battle when it comes to whether or not they make time for fitness. “Fifteen minutes to and from the gym? I just lost a half hour of my day!”

Consider offering at-home training sessions for clients who can’t make the trip to your gym or studio. Home sessions offer more privacy and comfort for some clients and can help them establish a space at home where they can go in their spare time and will also fetch a higher hourly rate, a bonus to you.

*Do make sure that you have insurance coverage outside of a gym or studio if you plan to travel to clients’ homes.

We all get extra busy from time to time, and certainly, some folks have lives that seem to run non-stop. But busyness should never be an excuse for some passionate and committed about making a change toward a healthier life. If you find that addressing time barriers does not seem to improve your client’s compliance to fitness, then it’s time to dig deeper and find out what other factors may be interfering.

Hanna Riley

Hanna Riley B.S. in Kinesiology, NFPT CPT is a passionate trainer, writer, and graphic designer. Hanna’s greatest passion is working with people who want to better themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. She believes that we are all stronger than we think and she aspires to extend patience, kindness, education, self-motivation, confidence to her clients to help them unleash their strength. For more from Hanna, connect on social media on Facebook as Hanna Riley and Instagram as @house.ofhanna.