There are so many amazing parts of being in the fitness industry. The people are cool, the uniforms are cozy, and you can make your own schedule. Then there are the downfalls like having to work split shift, enduring volatility in your paycheck, and inevitably, burnout.
I have endured my share of times when I was exhausted and falling asleep at my desk and during sessions. It took me years to really find a solid state of balance. So how did I do it?
Tip #1 - Priorities
First and foremost, I needed to get my priorities straight. Yes, I wanted to make a lot of money and run a successful team. But I also wanted to make time for working out, eating regular meals, and taking vacations. If you just read this and are confused, yes, those 3 things are like a big deal in our industry that runs 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Setting priorities meant leaving time each day to take lunch, rest, and rejuvenate before heading back in the afternoon. I still needed to work split shift since I had staff there early and late, but I made it work to make time for myself. I needed to prioritize my schedule so that my boss and team knew when I was available, and when I was not. It actually helped me to get more done since I knew when I would be at the and away.
Tip #2 - Goal Setting
When was the last time you had a goal setting session with yourself? I made a point in every monthly goal setting with my team members to also ask about both professional and personal goals. I wanted to know not only what they wanted to accomplish with the company, but what was motivating them outside of work. Were they planning for a trip, a wedding, a move, a big purchase? I wanted to know what else they were working on besides how they wanted to further their career, because it helped me know how to motivate them. It also allowed opportunity about conversations around using their time off, optimizing their schedules and even exploring new things for them. Trainers are notorious for only eating, sleeping and drinking fitness. But opening up the conversation to new hobbies and interests helps to keep their brain fresh. I followed the same goal setting process with with myself. I wanted to know what I was working towards, which helped me if I knew I was going to have a busier month at work.
“A reckoning with burnout is so often the reckoning with the fact that the things you fill your day with — the things you fill your life with — feel unrecognizable from the sort of life you want to live, and the sort of meaning you want to make of it." Anne Helen Petersen, Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation
Tip #3 - Making Time For YOU
If you are rolling your eyes right now, just hear me out. We get into this industry to help other people live better lives. We assist them in making life changes that include exercise, health and wellness and even nutrition. If we are not doing that for ourselves, how can we stand in front of our clients and ask them to do it? At the peak of my career, I remember my Sunday routine. Wake up at 7:00AM to get to barre class by 8. Head to Whole Foods and eat breakfast and study for my MBA classes for three to four hours and then grocery shop. Head home and study another two to three hours, meal prep for week, finish laundry and head to bed by 9:00PM. And that was SUNDAY. But it allowed me to be ready for the week and be able to take care of myself while also working 60 hours a week and going to school full time. Start with the basics; water, sleep and food. We all know we perform better when we are following our own advice.
Tip #4 - Support
I was fortunate enough to have some kick-ass colleagues in the companies I worked for. And I always made a point to spend some time with them. Sometimes it was a quarterly meet up where we went for dinner and drinks. Maybe we organized going to an educational seminar together. Or it could simply be coffee just one on one. Being with my peers allowed me to vent, bounce ideas off of them, and also learn what they were up to and struggling with. It helped me to know I wasn’t alone. I started out very young in management and that can feel isolating since you cannot be friends with your team members. Knowing that I had people who knew what I was going through really helped me when I was having a hard time.
Tip #5 - Do Your Homework
I always found over the years that when I was doing my homework, well, my clients and trainers were too. And vice versa. I always had the most successful teams when I had my act together. We NEED to practice what we preach. And that can be super challenging. We want to skip that midday workout because we are tired. We don't feel like working on our marketing strategy today. We would prefer to eat the pizza instead of the chicken and broccoli. But we do the work because it will help us get to our long-term goals. And when we stick to it, it resonates through our messages to our clients and employees.
Burnout doesn’t have to be part of your equation. Sometimes it seems like more work, but ensuring you are taking care of yourself should always be top priority in an industry where you have to put your best foot forward in order to stay competitive. Stay rested, stay hydrated, make time for those workouts, and make sure you have your priorities, goal setting, and support top of mind.