There are very few accidents in life so there are very few emergencies. What most try to pass-off as an emergency is simply just something that wasn’t planned for, but which should have been predicted had the outcome been more important or had priorities been kept in mind.
Don’t get me wrong, emergencies do exist, and they are usually identified by an instantaneous and complete shifting of priorities. They are very rare and most people will have a couple of actual emergencies in their life time. In the realm of personal training, the cancellation call to the trainer is very low on the list of things to do when a real emergency kicks in. Survival or immediate service to those in need are hallmarks of a real emergency. For this reason, great personal trainers will never bill a client for an emergency because they cannot be avoided.
Some examples of a real emergency would be heart attack or stroke for a parent, injury in a car crash, delay due to actual highway / public transit congestion or closure, gas leak, bomb scare, fuel spill, tornado or other acute extreme weather event.
Some examples of fake emergencies would be children’s school event, sports game, or concert, impending work or school deadline, hot date, spontaneous trip or vacation.
The difference is in ones ability to anticipate the event or the amount of lead time or warning the client had about the event in question as well as the actual need to shift priorities. Work and school deadlines tend to be well communicated and well established ahead of time. The same is true for children’s school, sports and concert events. The date and times of these things are usually announced months ahead of time and are rarely spur of the moment things given the number of people involved with them.
What are we getting at here?
Very simple, our most successful clients have never missed a session due to an emergency. They have had to rescheduled sessions later in the week or do an extra session in the previous weeks, but if their program requires training 4 times per week, they always average 4 training sessions per week.
The most successful clients know their priorities and stick to them no matter what happens. They have the same opportunities to take spontaneous trips, dates and other events but they know exactly why they are training and do not sacrifice their future goals for immediate gratification. They don’t regard things they have a choice to do or not do as emergencies so their priorities cannot shift.
The least successful trainees or those who do not achieve their goals have a different view of emergencies. For those who are less committed to their goals, their future selves or achieving their potential, an opportunity to have fun now supersedes actual hard work and success. Worse than this is the tendency for these people to not know what the next few weeks of their life looks like – they don’t have schedules or day planners outlining the upcoming events like school activities, sports events for children, etc…. These people have little desire to create a new and better future because they just make plans and let life happen each day, labeling things emergencies so they can get out of their training session; effectively losing another day of their life just because they didn’t care enough to not lose it.
I recommend billing people for missed and cancelled sessions because there is no excuse for missing or cancelling a session. It isn’t personal but creating a new life is hard and if someone doesn’t care enough about their future to know what that future looks like – the upcoming events for their weeks – use the loss of money for a missed session as leverage for them to do what is important in the long run vs. doing the thing is fun right now.