One last thought about burnout. It's something that affects us all, but it's especially challenging for those of us in the fitness industry. While many laypeople dissolve the daily stresses of life with a good run or a hard workout at the gym, we aren't always so lucky. On one hand there's no doubt about the benefits of working in such close proximity to cardio and strength-training equipment. The shine from the gleaming stacks of free weights and the hum of a row of treadmills constantly remind you to get moving. On the other hand, by mixing personal relaxation time with work you can easily lose your sanctuary amongst the cardio equipment. For those of us who put in extra long hours at all times of the day and week (including the occasional holiday) at the gym, we don't even want to hear the swish of the ellipticals and the gentle clank of the front-loading plates during our free time because we've been conditioned to associate these sounds with long, stressful hours.
Burnout can surface many ways. Ever see a personal trainer staring mindlessly out the window as his client crunches away in agony beyond the intended 20? Might be burnout. Has one of your instructors ever snapped at her class “Quit following everything I do! Why are you such copycats?” Could be burnout. Have you ever shut your office door because you just can't stand to see one more perky face bop into your office to see how your weekend was (especially since you worked all weekend on the budget)? Hmmm. Possible burnout.
What's a fitness professional to do when the club is no longer a safe haven during off hours? Go home.
From the weight room to the office, no one is immune to burnout without a healthy balance in his or her life. Now I'm not saying to check your love for fitness at the door at the end of the day — I'm just saying to keep it fresh. Head outside for your daily jog, pop in a yoga DVD, take your dog for a stroll, play a couple of sets of tennis with your family, or, gasp, even visit a different club across town and lose yourself in a new fitness environment. While going to the competitor's lair may seem like a stressful proposition (all that comparing your club to their facility is bound to be unnerving), you might actually find that getting lost amongst the unfamiliar staff and member faces is a blessing. And, without realizing it, you might walk away with some great ideas for your own facility and even a renewed love for what got you into this business in the first place.
I know some diehard workaholics are scoffing right now. Their long hours keep the club running and keep their facility ahead of the competition. And sure, hard work pays off, but only if you're in your right mind. And working 60 hours a week puts no one in the right state of mind. By taking time for yourself and being more rested, you may notice that difficult tasks are a bit easier and take less time to complete, while inventive ideas to advance your business surface more frequently.
True, one bad day filled with administrative tasks, cranky members and fast turnover staff can make even the most relaxed and successful fitness professional forget why he/she loves fitness. But working that stress out away from the gym can help you reconnect with that passion and disassociate it from your “work.” If you keep your love for fitness fresh, your club will become vibrant and your members will become drawn to not only you, but also your facility. Make no mistake about it — on the club floor, burnout sizzles, but freshness shines.