Being a certified personal trainer is a rewarding yet demanding role. From giving each client personalized care and attention to managing every facet of your own business, it’s easy to neglect one of the most important contributors to long-term success: your OWN health and wellbeing.
You need to be the best version of yourself to keep up with your busy schedule, and practising self-care and achieving a healthy work-life balance are crucial for keeping you happy, motivated, and thriving as a personal trainer.
Relax in a comfy spot, take some cleansing deep breaths, and read on to find out how to take care of your most important asset.
WHAT COULD BE STRESSING YOU OUT?
Exercise boosts endorphins, which reduces stress. Personal trainers are always working out so they must never be stressed, right??
Wrong! Personal trainers are exposed to many stressors, just like everyone else. If not mitigated with stress-management techniques and self-care, these stressors could overwhelm you and even cause dissatisfaction with your chosen career.
Some common sources of stress for personal trainers include:
- Attracting new clients
- Losing existing clients
- Running your own business and working long days
- Compassion fatigue (the stress of caring for others)
- Creating bespoke training or nutrition plans for a variety of clients
- The constant demands of marketing and social media
- Dealing with your own injuries or mental health issues
- Navigating last-minute cancellations or challenging clients
- Sourcing training locations
Not only can prolonged exposure to stress be unpleasant, but it can also seriously impact your mental and physical wellbeing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress can cause irritability, anxiety, loss of concentration, headaches, body pain, and sleep issues. Existing physical and mental health problems can be exacerbated, and the risk of substance use such as alcohol and tobacco is increased.
Specifically related to work, prolonged stress can also lead to the dreaded burnout.
BURNOUT: BAD FOR YOU, BAD FOR BUSINESS
When workplace stress is not successfully managed it can lead to a lack of energy and motivation, feelings of isolation and negativity towards your job, and ultimately a reduction in how you perform, and even a desire to leave the profession. The technical term for this syndrome is burnout.
Not only is burnout unpleasant and exhausting for you, it can also harm your business. You work closely with your clients so it’s very likely that they will notice and react to your diminished efficacy and energy.
STRATEGIES TO MANAGE STRESS
The great news is that there are plenty of ways to manage the stressors thrown at you to ensure you stay motivated and energized. Here are 5 ideas to get started:
#1 Be in the moment
There are simple, quick, and free ways to lower your stress levels throughout the day. Mindfulness is all about being in the moment and taking notice of what’s happening around you. The key to mindfulness is avoiding distractions and clearing a cluttered mind. How can you focus on your client’s form if you’re thinking about the next session and how messy the house is, listening for the ding of notifications on your phone, and worrying about a cancellation?
Give each of those issues and distractions their own timeslot and ensure that you keep your full attention on what you’re doing.
For more information on being mindful, check out this post by the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF): What Happened to Living In the Moment? 5 Tips to Remaster “Mindfulness”
#2 Breathe deep
This is an absurdly simple way to instantly lower anxiety and stress levels, yet it’s so easy to forget even though we’re constantly breathing! Deep breathing can be done anytime and anywhere, and it evokes a relaxation response in your body. In the car, waiting in the supermarket line, while watching a client do reps; it’s a discreet way to calm and center yourself. When you have privacy, it’s recommended that you sit or lie down and use breathwork to achieve a state of profound rest known as the Relaxation Response.
You could incorporate meditation, yoga or progressive muscle relaxation, but even just the breathing itself is highly beneficial. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “when you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises”.
For further instructions on deep breathing access the Harvard Health Publishing article: Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response
#3 Don’t go it alone
There is so much knowledge and experience in the fitness industry that you don’t need to handle everything alone. You may be trying to compete for clients, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek guidance and mentoring from those you admire and aspire to emulate. Our industry is full of supportive and passionate individuals and organizations that share in your vision for a healthier future and many are willing to help.
#4 Your time is precious – protect and manage it
Be conscious of how you schedule in your appointments so that you’re not in constant demand from dawn to dusk. Yes, you need to be flexible for your clients, but you also need to manage their expectations of when you’re available. When booking a haircut or a doctor’s appointment they need to take whatever timeslots are available, so why should your services be any different?
#5 Diversify your offerings
Look at ways to maintain or increase your income without working more. Consider offering group training to earn more income in one timeslot. Or upskill and offer a specialization, our partner ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) offers discounts to our coaches on their specialization courses, so that you can charge more for your sessions. Look into offering online training to minimize your travel times and gain some time back or record video sessions so that your clients can be trained while you’re taking care of other things (like yourself!)
MAKE SELF-CARE A PERMANENT TO-DO ITEM
And be sure to tick it off each day as well! This is the fun part, the stuff that sparks joy and recharges your flat batteries. We’re all so busy all the time with work, family, friends and responsibilities that self-care often either gets left off the list, or comes with a decent dose of guilt.
Why is it that stopping, relaxing and doing something solely for pleasure can sometimes make us feel like we’re being selfish? After all, isn’t that what life’s all about?
You officially have permission to do something you love DAILY with zero guilt. In case you need more convincing, you’ll actually be investing in your business when you practise self-care. Your clients will experience a clear, focused, motivated version of you, which can only be great for business.
Make it a non-negotiable part of your day. You might like to be more relaxed with how you approach it and do what feels good on the day, such as:
- riding your bike
- seeing a movie
- reading or writing
- soaking in a bath
- treating yourself to a massage
- getting your hands dirty in the garden
- playing videogames
- settling in with an engrossing craft
- walking (or cuddling) your dog/cat/hamster/warthog
- playing with your kids, grandkids, any kids! (Mini humans know how to live in the moment.)
Or you might like to be more structured in your approach so that you are more likely to follow through. For example, you might decide that you will read a chapter of a book each night, meditate three times a week and binge TV shows at least twice a week.
THE OTHER SIDE OF SELF-CARE
Doing the fun stuff is one way to care for yourself, but we don’t really need to go into too much detail about the other ways to ensure you are happy and healthy.
As a health and wellness coach you already know the proven benefits of getting plenty of sleep, eating a balanced diet, and regularly exercising. However, as a busy person who is always focused on the health of others, we know how easy it can be to forget to prioritize this for yourself. But you’ll be happy that you did.
SERIOUSLY, SLEEP IS SO IMPORTANT
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Importantly the CDC states that, “getting enough sleep is not a luxury—it is something people need for good health.”
Just like chronic stress, sleep deprivation can cause mood instability, lack of concentration and can lead to errors and injuries. So getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night is vital for your health and the health and safety of your business.
To achieve a better sleep try to create healthy sleep hygiene habits such as:
- always going to bed and waking up at the same time (including weekends)
- avoiding screens, caffeine, sugar before bed
- create a quiet, dark and inviting sleep space with a comfortable temperature
For more on why self-care is important for fitness check out this post from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Why is Self-Care Important for Fitness? And How to Apply it
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Everything we’ve covered above should help you to achieve a healthy work-life balance, which is necessary to achieve peak efficacy and maintain energy and motivation, thus future-proofing your business. Keep in mind that work-life balance is not a single goal you can achieve, but rather something you will constantly need to work on and commit to.
A balance between your working hours/tasks and your personal time can help to avoid chronic stress and burnout, and keep you loving the amazing profession you’re in. You’ll benefit, your clients will benefit and your business will benefit!
For more ways to invest in yourself (and your business) using:
- A growth mindset
- Skill development
- Mentorships and networking
- Self-care and stress management
- Future-proofing for long-term success
Download our FREE ebook: Investing in yourself: how to improve and protect your best business asset
And go ahead, take a little ‘you time’ now. You’ve earned it.
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Article by TrueCoach
First published: September 14 2023
Last updated: January 11 2024