Burnout. It's a challenge that every small business owner faces, because to successfully start, run and grow your business, you must make huge sacrifices in terms of time and energy. Everyone dreams of being their own boss, but the reality is that the demands of entrepreneurship are much higher than most people realise.
Personal Trainers are particularly susceptible to burnout; in fact it even has a name: Trainer Burnout Syndrome. There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- Unpredictable schedules - days could start at 5am and not finish until 10pm, because Personal Trainers have to juggle their clients' schedules as well as their own.
- Income based on training hours - there's pressure to take on more clients than a trainer can handle, because their revenue is largely generated through hour-by-hour charging.
- Personality clashes with clients - struggles with motivation, payments and unrealistic expectations can lead to significant personal differences between a trainer and their clients.
However, the main reason that Personal Trainers are more susceptible to burnout is because they're offering a service that's so unique and so customer-focused that it takes up all their time and energy. Think about it; unlike other service-based businesses, Personal Trainers aren't washing windows or landscaping gardens or styling hair or painting houses. They have been chosen by their clients to help them with the most important investment they'll ever make: their health, fitness and physical well-being.
This is no small thing. In fact, it's a major challenge that brings with it not only high demands, but the necessity of developing close personal relationships with their clients. Hair stylists will tell you that their job is a mix of hairdresser and personal therapist, but this is doubly so for Personal Trainers, who must engage with their clients on a much more intimate level.
The more clients a trainer has, the more likely they are to suffer burnout, because their clients' goals are theirs as well. If their clients aren't satisfied, it impacts the trainer that much more.
Adding to all this pressure is the struggle to keep the business running on an administrative level. A Personal Trainer is required to spend as much time as they can with their clients, and often this is to the detriment of the business itself, which also requires attention.
Paul Wilkinson, owner of Latitude Fitness (Paul and his team pictured here), recalls the struggles of managing the day-to-day demands of his fitness business as it grew. "Trying to manage staff, clients and training options on a manual system was virtually impossible," he said. "It was becoming overwhelming."
Knowing that the admin side of your business is suffering while you devote yourself to clients is in itself a cause of burnout.
How to avoid burnout
So what's the answer? How do you avoid burnout if the demands of your clients and your business needs are too much?
- Fix your working hours - it's crucial that you set a schedule of your available hours and make sure clients (and you) stick to it in order to have enough down-time for yourself.
- Branch out and try new things - get out of your comfort zone and off the gym floor to engage in activities that you enjoy. Every so often, you're allowed to take a break and reset!
- Combine your personal sessions in group classes - if you're too overwhelmed with the demand, leverage your time better by training your clients in small related groups.
- Learn, evolve, teach and repeat - change up your routine and extend your expertise by meeting with other trainers in the community and attending conferences/ meetups. This will help keep your routines fresh and challenging for your clients and yourself.
Increasingly, small business owners are embracing digital technology as a means of streamlining their business processes, so they can spend more time doing what they do best and not buried in the books, worrying about admin tasks.
That's where the PTminder solution comes in. PTminder is a business management software solution specifically designed to help Personal Trainers, boutique gyms and studios save time and grow your business. Since Tom Storr’s True Success PT business put it to use, he’s noticed an increase in efficiency as well as greater control. "I can keep control of clients in all aspects of the business," he explains. "It takes away the stress of organising various parts of the business on different platforms. It's all in one place so it makes life a lot easier."
Avoiding trainer burnout is about putting management tools like PTminder to use. It means that you can focus on your clients and not have to worry that the admin is backing up and your business is suffering. It's a big tick on the avoid burnout checklist, and one that's essential to check off.