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A HFE personal trainer guides their client through an exercise.
A HFE personal trainer guides their client through an exercise.

4 Ways To Overcome Trainer Burnout

6 minute read

If you’ve been working hard to build up your personal training business, there’s no doubt that you will have had one or more of those days when you feel like every ounce of energy has been literally sapped from your body.

Personal training is a demanding career, and it certainly isn’t something that the faint hearted or work shy should even consider getting in to! Not only are you on your feet all day, or at least you should be if you have enough clients, but you’ll also need enough energy to demonstrate new and challenging exercises to your clients as and when required.

Work will often start in the early hours of the morning, break while everyone else is at work, and then recommence in the evening. It’s not uncommon for a Personal Trainer to work late in to the night. You’ll need to be energetic and upbeat throughout the day, and portray a positive and professional image of your business – after all, you are your business!

Trainer Burnout

For many trainers, once the training sessions are over, the business planning, development, sales, marketing and bookkeeping start. This is especially so for self employed personal trainers who need to generate all of their own clients.

Unless you are fortunate enough to have somebody to take care of these essential business activities, it is likely that you’ll be finding yourself working far more than the traditional 40 hour working week.

If you don’t take care of yourself, burnout is unfortunately inevitable. Not only is this damaging to your own health and wellbeing, but your productivity and quality of sessions will fall too. If you don’t have the energy to be at the top of your game for your clients, the likelihood is that they will start looking elsewhere for results, which won’t do you any favours in retaining your clients.

However, there are a few simple strategies that you can implement to reduce the risks of any burnout-relating issues occurring. Here’s what we suggest:

Set Clearly Defined Working Hours

Perhaps the biggest thing that you can do to beat personal trainer burnout is to set clearly defined work hours.  If you don’t, you will find that you’re checking emails, answering calls, and tending to general business-related matters late into the night when your mind and body should be resting.

Set a stop time – a time in the day that you will stop all work related tasks unless an absolute emergency presents itself.  This will certainly help you to enter the next working day feeling more refreshed and revitalised.

As we mentioned, a PT’s hours really don’t follow the typical 9-5 – in fact, they often work around it. Ensuring the hours you do work are consistent each week can help you establish a much needed routine, meaning the other steps we mention will come to you far easier.

Take At Least One Day Off Per Week

Along with having those clearly defined work hours, you must also be sure to take at least one full day off work each week – or as close to ‘being off’ as is possible.  Just as you wouldn’t workout every single day of the week because your body needs time to repair from the damage caused by the last workout, your mind and body also need the time to unwind and recover from the rigors and stresses of work.

Remember that a tired trainer is not going to be a successful trainer, so it really does no good to overwork yourself. Your clients want someone who’s energised and excited to be there. Not someone who’s running off 6 hours of sleep and can’t wait until their next scheduled holiday hits. A full 24 hour period away from work can really help you reset your energy levels so that the next week you can give your clients your absolute best!

This is also a good time to mention that, as enjoyable of a career as personal training is, your job should never take over your entire life. Giving yourself time to do your hobbies and see your friends is essential to your happiness, which in turn will improve your mood and energy levels at work.

Combine Clients with Group Training

If you find that you’re feeling burnout simply because of the demand for your training services is so high (which means you’re doing something right!), one option could be to train groups of clients at the same time.

Rather than conducting one-to-one sessions, which will fill up your day rapidly, with their permission, hook up two or three clients of similar fitness and/or skill level together train them together.

Not only does this help you to cut back on the total amount of hours you’ll be working, but you’ll also boost your hourly rate as you do this. You may want to consider reducing the amount each individual client pays however to reflect the shared service!

This can also actually be beneficial to the client. As we know from what personal training can learn from CrossFit, healthy competition can push people to be better than their counterpart. Of course, you’d never want to make this too serious or dishearten the ‘loser’, but some friendly rivalry may give clients a much-needed boost.

You can still do your best to give each client your upmost attention as possible, and you could even make the session an hour and a half, for example. This way, you’d get in four clients in the time you previously would’ve only had three – there’s plenty of ways you can do this!

Take Care of Your Own Health

Finally, the fourth must to avoid burnout is to make sure that you tend to your own health. Don’t forget to plan and implement your own workouts and most importantly, take the time to eat good quality food.

Nothing will contribute to burnout faster than eating ‘convenience foods’ that are devoid of any real nutritional value. Foods that are rich in processed carbohydrates and low in quality protein will only serve to make you more tired, impair your recover and generally reduce your immune system.

As a trainer, you are a walking advertisement for your services, so it’s imperative that you practice what you preach.  If you don’t take the time to exercise regularly, eat correctly and refrain from partaking in behaviours that are destructive to your health, how can you expect your clients to do so?

It’s also important that you that you take the time to get enough sleep. Few things are more restorative than a good night’s sleep. You might want to choose to work late nights or early mornings, and not both, so that you can ensure you get a full 6-8 hours quota.

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