Most personal trainers begin their days at 5am, barely having time for coffee before spending the morning pouring their energy into their clients. Sad, right? An under-caffeinated morning is the kind of morning I don’t want to have.
The middle of a trainer’s day is usually spent writing programs or doing the “biz” stuff—admin work, invoicing, a hodgepodge of marketing, that kind of thing. If they’re lucky, they might be able to squeeze a workout in before spending their evenings with clients.
With long days and broken-up schedules, it’s far too easy for personal trainers to skimp on the self care. I know, because I am one 😉
I’ve found myself burned out on more than one occasion. It typically manifests as extreme fatigue and a deep need to avoid any form of human contact. I’m an introvert by nature, but this shit gets intense.
On a few occasions, the burnout came because I legitimately was working too much. But usually, it comes when I don’t emphasize the recovery. AKA, the self care.
Running a business is like training. I’m a firm believer that if your recovery is on point, you won’t fall into the dangerous trap of overtraining. Similarly, you can work your tail off on projects you’re passionate about in your business, and as long as you’re keeping your self care game strong, you’ll avoid many of the common side effects of burn out. Constant fatigue, an inability to recover from your workouts, increased anxiety, and a lack of motivation to name a few.
There are no shortage of self care tips on the internet.
“Spend 30 minutes journaling about what you’re grateful for in the morning!”
“Go for a 60-minute leisure walk in the middle of your day to alleviate stress.”
“Cook a healthy dinner and take the time to really enjoy it.”
These suggestions are challenging for most individuals, but even more so for personal trainers who are up at the crack of dawn and are often working until late in the evening. I tried the whole journaling-at-4am thing before my 6am clients, and honestly, it made me more tired than inspired.
The key is to find simple ways to infuse a little more self care into your day in a way that works with your unique schedule, business, and lifestyle. You need to make sure your cup is full, because if you drain it on the regular, you aren’t going to have the energy you need to show up for your clients.
The work you’re doing is important. The message you have to share is important. And you can’t fulfill your purpose if you’re constantly stressed and burned out.
You with me? Good! Here are some of my top self care tips for personal trainers.
#1. Set and Maintain Boundaries
As a personal trainer, it’s easy to forget that personal boundaries exist. You often see clients at 6am and 9pm, you know everything about their lives, and they likely know a substantial amount about your own life as well.
Many personal trainers give their clients their phone numbers, telling them “I’m always just a phone call or text away”. We think we’re doing our clients a favour by giving them 24/7 access to us, but in actuality, we’re doing both ourselves and our clients a disservice.
By constantly making ourselves available to our clients, we not only ignore our own personal boundaries, we also encourage our clients to be dependent on us because they don’t get the opportunity to problem-solve for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for going above and beyond for my clients. But I’ve also learned that by setting boundaries and empowering my clients to think for themselves, I don’t need to answer every single text and email as soon as it arrives (because spoiler alert: most of them don’t expect me to).
Let your clients know you will get back to them within specific timeframes throughout the week. Office hours are a helpful protocol, as is simply letting them know they can expect a response from you within 24 business hours.
Another great way to honour your boundaries is to set up your schedule in a way that works for you. If you don’t like the long days that most trainers work (does anybody like working 5am to 9pm?), find a way to fit your clients into a few evenings or a few mornings. If you like your afternoons open for your own workouts, don’t take any clients in there. If there’s a certain day of the week you don’t want to train, don’t accept any bookings.
Scheduling tips for personal trainers could be a post all on its own. It’s a topic that requires a look at both the practical (ie. picking a day off and sticking to it) and the mindset (actually following through with those boundaries and not worrying all of your clients will leave you because you’re trying to take one day off). Note to self: write that post 😉
And finally, make sure you are setting boundaries in your personal life. If you’re asked to help with something you don’t have the capacity for, say that. Similarly, if there is something you need help with, don’t be afraid to ask.
#2. Prioritize Your Workouts
Between long days and little time to yourself, it can be easy to let your own workouts slide. I’ve had many a trainer tell me that after spending 8 scattered hours in the gym with clients, the last thing they want to do is push themselves through their own workouts. I hear you, friends. I hear you.
But maintaining your fitness is important for a few reasons. First and foremost, you gotta practice what you preach. If you expect your clients to show up for themselves amidst their busy lives, you need to do the same!
If you want your clients and potential clients to take you seriously, you also need to demonstrate that you prioritize fitness as well. That doesn’t mean you need to have a shredded six pack in order to be considered a legit personal trainer. But you do need to be able to demonstrate movements with ease and to be able to keep up with your clients in the gym.
Schedule your workout time into your calendar and treat it with the same importance you treat all your other appointments. Then ensure you leave ample time for recovery—you don’t want to be so sore you can’t teach a new client how to squat!
Foam rolling, massages, epsom salt baths, and the occasional yoga class are some of my favourite ways to keep my body in good working order.
I also love using Icaria’s CBD oil to help reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process. Icaria’s CBD oil is non-psychoactive, so don’t worry – you won’t be high for your evening sessions 😉 It’s been an integral part of my self care practice for the last 5 months, and not only does it help my body relax, but it also helps my mind relax.
A stressed out trainer is not a fun trainer!
#3. Invite Systems and Structure Into Your Business
We don’t often associate business structure with self care, but can all just agree that losing your mind because you’re unorganized in your business is the opposite of self care?
When you’re disorganized, you’re constantly feeling as though you’re 10 steps behind. You know you’re forgetting something, but you don’t know what. Then when you realize what it was that you forgot, you feel like shit because you dropped the ball.
And no amount of CBD oil can alleviate that anxiety.
Some simple ways you can invite more systems and structure into your business include keeping a running to-do list, separated into Need-to-Dos and Nice-to-Dos. Need-to-Dos include things like programming, client check-ins, marketing activities, etc. Nice-to-Dos would include things like website updates, new info products to create and sell, etc.
Create a follow-up system for your clients. Set aside specific hours in the day to respond to emails and texts. Put calendar reminders in your phone for all important tasks.
These are all small but impactful ways you can bring more organization into your business, and ultimately more relaxation in your mind and free time in your schedule.
You may not know this, but business coaching is a service I offer to personal trainers, and I specialize in helping those with messy, unorganized businesses clean their shit up so they can do what they do best: make people stronger, fitter, and more confident.
Want to learn more about how I can help you? Fill out the application on the bottom of this page and I’ll be in touch to schedule a complimentary call.
Why Should You Up Your Self Care Game?
So I’ve shared some self care tips for personal trainers. And I’ve shared my opinion as to why I think implementing these tips is important.
But ultimately, it boils down to what YOU prioritize. Why do YOU think you need to take good care of yourself? When you’re overtired, overworked, and overstressed, how does it impact your business? Your ability to show up for your clients? You desire to fulfill your purpose here on this planet?
Self care can seem like a fluffy topic, especially when the emphasis is placed on things like bubble baths and massages as it usually is. But self care, in its most basic form, is caring for your own needs.
And when you’ve got people who are depending on your to help them transform their lives, Friend—you better make sure your ass is well cared-for 😉
To my fellow personal trainers: how do you make sure you take good care of yourself amidst a busy schedule? Any tips I missed that you’d like to share?