Staff burnout can be a problem at any fitness facility. It happens when people have been doing the same thing over and over again for years with no change in sight or when the workload is so great that your staff feels buried under. This burnout can even happen with part-time staff, such as your group exercise instructors. Because these instructors tend to have such loyal followings, you want to ensure that you watch for staff burnout and address the situation before they walk out the door and take many of your members with them. Here are some things to do to prevent burnout:
Understand that individual burnout can lead to program burnout. Injury, fatigue, chronic subbing of classes, as well as using the same music, formatting or program design, are tell-tale signs of instructor burnout. All of this can lead to making an overall program feel fatigued to members. Survey your members regularly about how the classes are going. Post the findings so all involved know they have been heard. Spice up the formatting seasonally and decrease the overuse syndrome that can creep up when an instructor repeats the same movements over and over.
Offer a refueling station. Design a refueling station within the facility that is more than just a break room. It should be an "escape to" place for staff with a music library, mini meals and catalogs of everything from instructional DVDs to uniforms and updated music. Many club owners align with manufacturers to offer discounts for staff on all of these essential group fitness items.
Set goals more often and offer incentives. Set goals and acknowledge results daily. Offer incentives for instructors to take courses and CECs that will allow them to be part of your new program schedule launch. Ask instructors to participate in promotion and outside marketing of the new schedule, perhaps by helping to hand out small marketing pieces that include the new schedule. Set usage goals, calculate new member usage and chart the number of newbies that were welcomed in each instructor's class monthly. Recognize new member usage to help remind instructors why they started in this field in the first place, which was to help people get fit.
Variety is still the spice of life. Although a change is something most instructors say they fear, variety will spice up any program. Most instructors fear what the regulars will think or what the regulars want. Why not use this to your advantage? Forecast the upcoming changes to the schedule. Give the member base and the staff a voice by forming a committee or vision group that will finalize the changes. Most importantly, make changes on a consistent schedule, getting all used to the idea of more frequent updates and rotations.
Give the environment a facelift. As mentioned earlier, a studio facelift can rejuvenate staff and members. Try adding a head shot/bio wall and ask all instructors to create a mission statement that can be added to the framed display. Or purchase updated small equipment. When making such a purchase, make sure that all staff are a part of the excitement that that special trendy piece will bring by offering demonstrations and usage seminars.
Turn peer pressure into peer training. Assign practice partners this season. The old saying "two heads are better than one" is true. Your staff will find it rewarding to assist in planning freestyle choreography as well as having a practice partner for last-minute prep.
Stay focused on their fitness. Offer incentives for staff to personally train. Discount pricing or even give one free session per month to assure the instructor base stays focused on their own fitness level. Although it seems to go without saying, you will find greater adherence if, as a facility, you offer an incentive and show that you are aware of all of the instructors' needs. Doing this not only decreases physical burnout, but it can create a more blended team. That special trainer may be your next group fitness pro, or vice versa.
Know your instructors. Managers should communicate regularly with staff to ask how they are feeling. Find out how their body feels. Ask what they have added that was different from the last class. If you notice they are requiring subs more often, ask about what is happening and whether you can help with anything. You can assist the instructor by simply changing the environment of the studio, moving the equipment or adding a photo wall featuring students and professionals. Show the staff daily that all instructors in the department are appreciated and that management knows these professionals keep our back doors closed and renewals up.
Teach daily as if it were class number one. Nothing refuels a burned-out instructor or rebuilds confidence when the class is no longer fun than to approach the next class as if it were the very first. Suggest to your instructors that they think about the work involved in that class—the practice, the new outfit, the introduction and how they all asked for input after their first class. Have them restart their engines by getting back to the basics. Nothing decreases burnout more than hearing that one member say that the instructor has changed the member's life.