3 Ways to Beat Personal Trainer Burnout
3 Ways to Beat Personal Trainer Burnout could help you stay physically and mentally balanced for your job as a personal trainer, especially if you envision it as a long-term career. Knowing your limits, finding balance, and learning when to say “no” will help keep you on the health and fitness career path!
On paper, personal training as a career appears to be a sweet gig: we (typically) wear workout clothes on the job, there is minimal time sitting at a desk, and don’t we get to workout all day long?
While that last bit is entirely false, being a personal trainer is fun, satisfying, and keeps my health in check. But that’s not all. Personal training is also physically strenuous, emotionally draining, and can be stressful at times – in regards to finances. If you’ve read this post about a day in my personal trainer shoes, it probably seems like I have it all down to a science. I start my day early, end early, and schedule a workout and lunch break in-between. But did it start out like that? Hell. No.
When I first started as a personal trainer (it even ebbs and flows now), I would go from 0 to 60 mph until I hated my job. Wanting to stick to it, I’d power through a couple more weeks, and then REALLY feel crappy about my career choice. All of the passion I had from the start quickly waned until I went on vacation (which was once per year).
Workin’ for that pool-side time…
You Don’t Have to Change Jobs
What is a fitness professional (or ANY professional) to do? Quit and find a job that doesn’t EVER result in burnout? Not only is that unrealistic, it’s far from the end-all-be-all. There are ways to beat personal trainer burnout, and the big takeaway is learning more about how you operate and what you need to continue operating.
From what I’ve learned so far – four years into the biz – there are at least three things every personal trainer should do to beat burnout: create boundaries, find balance, and know when to say “no”.
And I’m not talkin’ physical, don’t-get-inside-my-personal-space boundaries. Creating boundaries involves those parameters that will allow you to stay sane, successful, and not-hating the world/your clients. These will be different for everyone. Would it help to read mine?
- I don’t work weekends: there are trainers that work six or seven days each week, and I high-five those that can. After a mere ONE month of working Monday through Saturday, I started to loathe coming in to see clients (*red flag*). Solution for me? Stick to a Monday – Friday schedule, even though it may take a tad longer to bring in new business.
- The earlier, the better: you may meet trainers who work around the clock and break when they can. There are others who work in 3-5 hour blocks (early morning chunk of time, followed by a mid afternoon and evening). Personally, I’ve grown to love starting at 6AM, having one workout and lunch break, and then finishing the day between 3 and 4 PM. Although it can make for long stretches of clients (i.e. six or seven people in a row), I operate better if I start and end early.
- A (short) break every three months: it took me three years to figure out that my tolerance for this career is about three months. I give my all to my clients, but as we approach the end of each three-month period, I start to feel “IT”: exhausted, low-energy, crabby mood, and irritability. Because I want to do this for a looooong time – even if it’s part-time – I’ve learned to take a long weekend when those feelings begin to resurface.
Yes, yes. Having proprioception and the ability to physically balance is good for personal training, but finding physical and mental balance is important for delivering quality training to your clients:
- Do you need quiet time (or social time) when your workday is finished? I’m not a 100% extrovert. I think some qualities of being an extrovert are needed to be a personal trainer, and I draw energy from being around my clients. However, when the workday is done, I like to straight VEG. Less smiling, less small-talk, lots of downtime. Going immediately from work to a happy hour event or mass-socializing wears me out, and then my extrovert-stores are depleted for the next work day. And who wants to be around a crabby trainer?
Finding the balance that will help you perform better will be crucial to your work week. There may be times when you’re not balanced. Flashback to when I was planning our wedding, closing on the house, and keeping up with blogging. But knowing what you need to bring the scales back to the same level will be beneficial to your career!
Know When to Say “No”
All my yes-mans and yes-ladies out there, this one is T-O-U-G-H. Especially as a personal trainer who earns money soley through commission. Initially, I would advise saying “yes” more than you say “no”, even if it’s tiring. Building a business is important, and will help you establish your “base”. Getting your name out there is key, and one of the main ways that occurs is by getting in front of as many people as you can.
We all have our limits, though. There needs to be a point in your career where you learn to say “no”, practice it a bunch of times, and then know WHEN and HOW OFTEN to say it. Why? To beat personal trainer burnout!
When I first started personal training in Charlottesville, I saw as many clients as I could between 6 AM and 6 PM. Was I working for 12 straight hours? Never, but it still made for a long day. I’d have a couple hours here, a few hours there, and would even travel back for a 30-minute client. As I became more consistent with scheduling and started to build more solid relationships with my clients, I tapered back. Yes, it meant telling clients that I had “no more openings” at 5 PM. Sure, it meant that I lost a few people along the way. But because I was ready to make the jump (basically to restore my sanity), I was also ready to be patient for my schedule to fill the way I WANTED it to.
Happy Wife Personal Trainer, Happy Life
Speaking of the ol’ “happy wife, happy life” saying, can we just pause for a second and reflect on how awkward I am about calling Ray my…*husband*? After getting in line a second time – to get something for Ray – at Panera, the lady said, “Wow, you’re really trying to get more points on that rewards card!”. To which I said, “Yes…I forgot that I wanted to get a bagel to-go for…someone…elllllllse…”. Yikes.
Anyway. Would you agree that a happier personal trainers leads a happier life? If you’re not a personal trainer, substitute whatever job title you have into the statement! In order to have proper work-life balance, it’s imperative that we learn how to keep our “tank” full. Understanding the boundaries that need to be set, how to manage said balance, and learning how to say “no” are all ways we can beat burnout.
- How do you beat burnout in your profession?
- Do you have a tip to add? Tell me about it!
- Was it weird to get used to calling your spouse “husband” or “wife”?