Friday, May 1, 2009

5 Ways to Avoid Trainer Burn-out

I have been training clients since 1998. My first job training was at my local YMCA. My job title was a "fitness instructor" and basically, I supervised the gym floor. It was a part time gig because I was a full-time student finishing my undergrad degree. Every night I worked at the YMCA, I always had conversations with various lifters and discussed different ways of trying to met their goals.

One day, a father approached me about training his 15 year old son. We talked for a few minutes and discussed various exercises his son can do to improve his hockey skills. Every night, Mike (his son), would arrive at the YMCA weight room and I would go over some exercises with him. And every night, his father would pick him up and thank me. I didn't mind spending time with Mike--he was a good kid--and I enjoyed showing him some of the ropes. Albeit, at that time, I was still learning alot myself.

Then one day, Mike's father approached me and said, he would like me to continue training his son on a more permanent level. I told him, that I couldn't because I also had responsibilities during my shift at the YMCA and I had to also be available for other members. Then he said something that would carve my skills into a career. He said, "I'll pay you".

A week later, Mike's father presented me with a check for $487.00 for 15 sessions.

I really didn't know how to charge him. A part of me, couldn't believe that I was actually "charging" him!! Training his son was fun---and didn't seem like work! So I figured, if it doesn't feel like work--chances are, its not work! So why should I be compensated?

Ahhh...fast forward to 11 years later, and I realize how far I've come. Logging in over 10,000 hands-on client hours, creating countless exercise programs, and millions of pounds lost...I have still found a way to love this profession. There have been times when I wanted to break free of it---but I discovered some ways to keep the profession "fresh". Here is what I did:

1.) Don't train EVERY single client you meet.
Alot of trainers make the mistake and try to avoid turning away business. Sounds logical, right? Well, some clients may be more difficult than others and some personalities don't mesh very well. This can make sessions seem longer and boring. Some clients don't respond well to intensity or orders, so a trainer can feel "held back". This can cause serious burn-out which leads to boredom. If a trainer becomes bored of a client, chances are the exercise program will suffer. So, use "consultations" to measure a potential client's commitment level and match them up with the appropriate trainer (if you work with a team).

2.) Keep sessions between 30-45 min.
I stopped training 1 hour sessions. I still offer them, and have 2-3 clients that prefer a 60 minute session, but the bulk of my clients use 30 minutes sessions. They are great because they are fast, time efficient, and effective. My clients are happy because they get to go back to their business lives or family lives and still get a workout in. I am happy because I am able to keep my clients focused, motivated, and adhere to the program better (because it is shorter).

3.) Take days off.
And I mean, take days off in the middle of the week. Don't be afraid to re-charge your batteries. Extended weekends are great for you to spend time with your family, get things done, and do things you have been holding off. Time off in the middle of the week lets you get to those errands you have been holding off, which helps to alleviate stress.

4.) Make clients work around your schedule.
Yes...plain and simple. If they want to work with you that much, they will make the time to see you. You simply have to return with the results. If you get them the results, they will wait for you or they will see you on their lunch break, rather than go to the local happy hour.

5.) Get out and train yourself!
Sounds simply and something that should be automatic, right? Well, if you fail at #1, 2,3, 4--chances are you will never have free time to workout, or you will be too "burnt out" to train. Make designated time in the day to train in your studio or gym. If you start losing your desire to train yourself, you will begin to feel sluggish, out-of-shape, and nasty. You will lose the initiative to do what you love to do. Get in the gym and workout!

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