Turnover is notoriously high for fitness professionals. Most quit their job or leave the profession because their experience in their roles doesn’t match the expectations they had when they got started.
Many believe that working somewhere else, or even changing careers, will solve the issue. Sometimes it does. Most times, it doesn’t.
If you’ve had a feeling like it might be time to move on, or even leave the profession altogether, let me challenge you for a moment.
The best time to leave a job isn’t when things suck. It’s when things are going great, and you feel like you’ve mastered the role. It’s easy to find something better when you feel lousy about where you’re at. But if you find something better when things are going great, the next role is sure to be a step up.
Before you jump ship, see if applying some of the nine habits below can make your current ship look better. If and when you do leave, make the change to grow, not to escape.
1. Manage Your Schedule
Like other professions, there are plenty of fitness professionals who talk about working hard, and putting in long hours, but they don’t actually work when they’re at work.
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
You probably aren’t one of the talkers. If you were, you wouldn’t be reading this. I assume you do work hard. And as a driven, focused, goal-oriented professional, it’s easy to let your schedule get out of hand.
The temptation to add just “one more” client, or even do a consultation outside your normal hours, sounds appealing.
The small amount of extra income from working outside your normal schedule comes with a cost. It could be family time, your own workouts, sleep, or hobbies that bring you joy.
The more you sacrifice non-work activities, the less effective, fun, and productive you’ll become at work. No matter how much extra money you might make, and how good it could feel to hit a larger revenue target, the satisfaction will be short-term.
You must have boundaries around your schedule. Your boundaries not only keep you focused on work while you’re at work, they also keep your job from spoiling opportunities in your personal life.
I’m not saying you should never step outside the boundaries of your schedule. Just know that if you do, it comes at a cost.
2. Walk Your Talk
I assume you encourage your clients to eat well, get plenty of sleep, avoid junk food, etc. I’m always amazed by the number of personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and strength coaches who don’t practice what they preach.
Many are young, and believe they can “get away” with poor choices. And they do…for a while. It doesn’t take long, though, before the lack of sleep, poor diet, and missed workouts catch up on them.
Eventually, they gain weight, get sick, and might even end up with adrenal issues. I’m quite familiar with the adrenal issues as it happened to Vanessa.
If you want to avoid burnout yourself, you need to follow the advice you’d give a client.
Aside from getting sick or going through a family crisis, which is inevitable from time to time, there is never an excuse for skipping workouts. If you’re too tired to exercise, straighten out your schedule and get enough sleep. Lead by example for your clients.
3. Work with the Right Clients
Your emotional state plays a significant role in your performance, attitude, and success.
If you start the day feeling irritated about the clients you “have to” work with, you’re setting yourself up for burnout. You choose who to work with.
Work with people you love, and you’ll get better results. Work with those you don’t like, and you’ll not only wear yourself out; you’ll also provide them subpar coaching, training or instruction.
You are the perfect fitness professional for some people. And you’re the wrong one for others. Some clients are perfect for you, and others will wear you out. Choose your clients carefully.
4. Invest in Professional & Personal Growth
One of the six human needs, according to Tony Robbins, is growth. You will never know it all.
In fact, after 16 years in health and fitness, I realize there’s more I don’t know today, than what I thought I didn’t know when I started.
I’m not worried about what I don’t know. I’m excited about how much more I can learn.
You might be awesome at corrective exercise, but miss the mark when it comes to behavior change.
Training athletes for football season could be your specialty. Yet, you could learn more about how to rehab them after they get hurt.
Maybe you’re crazy about Crossfit or Alpha Training, but you’re kind of lousy at coaching someone on the primary lifts, so your athletes aren’t performing as well as they could.
Perhaps you love Yoga, but you’re terrible at sales and marketing, so you don’t have as many students as you’d like.
Even personal development work helps you in our profession, because it gives you insights to better support your clients.
5. Add Variety to Your Day
I hate to have open time in my calendar. If I do, it means I’m not contributing to anyone. However, you’ll lose your mind if you train, teach, or coach for 8-10 hours in a row.
Variety is the spice of life, right?
Your schedule can include training/coaching, seminars, sampling products, demo workouts, consultations, assessments, group sessions, group training, group fitness, water workouts, outdoor workouts, and more.
Keep your schedule full so you’re making money, but avoid filling it with the same types of sessions, hour after hour.
Add something to your schedule that you haven’t done before.
I remember trying to teach a group fitness class once. It was the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. But I did it anyway.
6. Keep Your Clients’ Programs Fresh
For most of my clients, their first few sessions were the same. I trained them through squats, deadlifts, reverse lunges, presses, pull-ups or pulldowns, and pushups.
Those exercises gave me a good idea of their range of motion, strengths, weaknesses, and coordination. From there, I’d personalize their program.
However, I worked alongside personal trainers who took each client through same workout each day, hour-after-hour. Not only did it tell me their personal training really wasn’t “personal,” I often thought about how boring their days must have been.
As a fitness professional, your enthusiasm (and boredom) rubs off on your clients. So, if you’re bored with the workout you planned for them, they will be too.
Don’t “mix up” their workouts haphazardly. Just choose unique movements that keep the sessions fresh for you, and still effective for them.
And whatever you do, never throw together something senseless, with the idea that you need to “keep their bodies guessing.” That’s one of the dumbest ideas out there in the health and fitness world.
7. Use Your Work Time For Income-Producing Time
A limited number of activities build your business. I call them “income-producing activities.” You can:
- prospect and meet new people
- contact your prospects to invite them to a consultation or seminar
- train, coach, teach, or do a consultation or assessment
- follow-up with those who are not yet clients, or who were in the past
Outside of those activities, there isn’t much else that builds your business.
Reading and educating yourself is important, but it isn’t income-producing time. Neither is visiting with colleagues, or visiting with the same person you see everyday at the gym.
It is so easy to wastes time in stuff like social media or checking emails. Even researching something for a client can take you down a rabbit hole of studies that consume hours of your time.
At every gym I’ve been in, personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and mind/body instructors hang around, visiting (and often commiserating) with one another. Your fellow fitness professionals probably won’t be buying sessions from you, so limit the time you waste in needless conversations.
Use your time with people who might become clients, or refer others to you.
When you’re at work, work. Especially if there are potential clients around.
8. Diversify Your Income
If training sessions or classes are your only source of income, you’ll reach a cap pretty fast. You only have so many hours per week to work with clients.
You could could squeeze more clients into a session or class, or charge more per session. Small group training limits the personalization of your programming. And if you keep increasing your session rate, eventually nobody will work with you.
You need to do something in addition to trading your hours for dollars.
Perhaps you could sell supplements or essential oils. Your clients are already buying them somewhere else. You can make sure they get the best, and get paid for your recommendation (you might already be able to do this with the company you work for).
We have a lot of fitness professionals who are enrolled in our Young Living business. Their goal is to earn more from Young Living than they do from their training or coaching, so they can train and coach because they want to, not because they feel they have to.
What about offering online training, so you can work with clients during off hours? Or, sell small fitness equipment like the Hypersphere, a foam roller, or the Thigh Master? Ok, the Thigh Master is pushing it, but you get my point.
9. Stop Playing Small
Ok, last thing. You have a kickass career.
How many people can really say their job is to make people healthier, happier, and live their best lives?!
You get to say that. So, stop playing small.
I remind myself everyday, I can do more than I’m already doing, impact more people than I’m currently impacting, and inspire more people than I’m currently inspiring.
In all likelihood, you can too.
When you think about the way you run your business today, and then consider how much more of an impact you could have by making some tweaks to it, that gap is your potential.
Don’t go to work and play small. Play all out.
Find people to help like it’s your life’s mission. Treat your clients as though their lives depend on you. Invest your time in activities that make a difference. Make everyday meaningful, productive, exciting, and life-changing to someone.
I sincerely believe that being a fitness professional is the most important calling there is. You can choose to make it so, based on how you think, act, and work. Go kick ass!
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