Beat Burnout

By Nicki Anderson
March 10, 2006

Nicki Anderson, NASM, is an IDEA Master Trainer and president of Reality Fitness Inc. in Illinois. She is the author of Reality Fitness; Inspiration for Your Health and Well-being. In addition to business consulting and speaking, Anderson is the health and fitness columnist for the Chicago Suburban Newspapers and the family fitness columnist for eDiets. You can contact Anderson at nicki@realityfitness.com or visit www.realityfitness.com

Burning the candle at both ends is not uncommon for personal trainers. An important part of your daily responsibilities include motivating personal trainers to create a well-balanced personal and professional life.

Are your personal trainers walking out your doors right along with your members? Do you notice a decrease in active clients and staff retention?

Burnout may be to blame. Burnout results from not giving your trainers what they need to succeed. Your enthusiasm as a manager or owner has a trickle-down effect. In other words, if you are being creative in keeping your personal trainers stimulated and enthused about their job, that will translate to members. And we all know when your members are satisfied, they will refer your club to their friends and family.

So how do you create an atmosphere that keeps your personal trainers excited about their growth and development? It begins by recognizing red flags and implementing the necessary steps to keep things fresh.

Red flags include boredom, staff attrition and lack of motivation. All of these are sure-fire signs that your personal trainer needs to stand back, re-evaluate and make the necessary changes to get back on track. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the red flags and learn how you can prevent their burnout from cutting into your business and your bottom line.

Boredom. Have you ever been to an event where it seemed that time was standing still? If you find your trainers checking the clock during the course of the day, it is a red flag that things have grown stale. They may simply be biding their time during the day, unable to find pleasure in their job. A bored personal trainer often translates to bored clients and lost revenues for your club if the client quits.

Begin by sitting down with the personal trainer in a non-threatening environment and evaluating his or her position. Is personal training really his or her calling or are is the person simply going through the motions? Loving what you do makes you great at what you do. If they don't enjoy the job, have them look around at other jobs in the club to see if those seem more appealing. Then work with them to determine what they need to do in terms of education and training to be considered for that position. Simply having a goal in mind can spur motivation for some people.

You should also suggest they network as a means to stimulate ideas and create opportunities for growth.

Low Motivation. The best way to awaken the motivation within is to “feed” your staff members positive information. Sending personal trainers to conferences where they can hear new ideas and meet new people can help stimulate their creativity and give them new ideas for their clients. Each time I attend a conference, I come back energized, full of new ideas and excited about implementing those ideas at my facility. When motivation is low, it’s tough to come up with new concepts. Fueling your staff's motivation with books, magazines, continuing education classes and especially networking, motivation and enthusiasm can work wonders. Recouping lost motivation can breathe life into a worn out facility and increase productivity.

Schedule regular meetings with your personal training staff to get feedback about the good, bad and ugly of the facility. Making your personal trainers feel part of the success of the business will provide you with a reliable, committed staff who knows they are valued and expected to contribute ideas.

Every club has its challenges because personal trainers are so tied to customer satisfaction, it can be depleting for them at times. You can face that challenge head on by seeking out avenues to keep their heart and soul ensconced in your business through suggestions mentioned above.

Incorporating those recommendations into your business practice will leave them inspired and excited about their future while leaving burnout at bay.