In general, the fitness industry attracts professionals who are passionate, competitive and goal driven. After all, in order to be successful in this industry, personal trainers and group fitness instructors must lead by example and with enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, the same characteristics that may lay the foundation for a promising, long-term career, could also lead to disaster: burn out.
We see it every day in our facilities, members without a plan or strategy who join with the right intentions, but no direction. Ultimately, these individuals experience one of three things: over-training, self-sabotage or lack of motivation, all of which lead to burn out and turnover. The same thing can happen to your fitness staff.
Many fitness professionals believe that the key to success lies in placing the client’s needs above their own. Oftentimes this means taking on clients at all hours of the day and night, making their schedules overly accessible. While it is important that our fitness staff caters to the specific needs and goals of the membership base, it is equally as important that we guard the health and happiness of our team. When personal trainers and group fitness instructors start blurring the lines between the work-life balance, they lose sight of the passion and drive that makes them impactful fitness professionals. They become vulnerable to burn out, just like their clients.
Almost ad nauseam, we stress to our clients the importance of balancing it all — work life, family obligations and social commitments — with leading a healthy, active lifestyle. The same principle applies to our own lives. There needs to be a clear distinction between home life and work life.
In the beginning, new trainers will want to hit the ground running. In order to maximize income and exposure, they will often take on as many clients as they can whenever they can. But, the motivation to sustain that energy and commitment will dwindle as time goes on.
Help your team set boundaries by encouraging them to delegate a certain amount of time each day to work-related activities. During this time, they may perform consultations and assessments, develop programming, spend time on the floor or work with clients. Encourage them to maximize this work time so that they may focus on other areas of their lives and interests, including personal fitness.
In this respect, fitness professionals are not much different from the clients they take on. At the end of the day, we are all trying to find the perfect balance between work and real life. When we set aside time for ourselves — prioritize and compartmentalize tasks — we are more likely to do the things that make us happy and do them passionately.
Paul Brones is a regional training director for Tilton Fitness & Wellness.