Are You Facing Burnout?

Most of us became trainers or fitness instructors for solid and noble reasons.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Love, right? For the love of fitness, for the love of helping people, or for the the love of making a change in this world of obesity and unhealthy living. It’s passion that led us here. However, often times, it is burnout that leads us away. They say “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and burnout in the fitness industry is a fact. A post by clubindustry.com dated September 3, 2019 stated that the industry has an annual personal trainer turnover rate of 80%.

There are many reported reasons for burnout. Many say it is lack of proper training, pay, grueling hours, or difficulty narrowing a target audience. Business marketing tactics and failure to market oneself appropriately are other reasons cited. The fact is trading hour per hour pushes trainers and instructors to train just one more client or teach one more class. Trainers feel the need to train everyone, regardless of personality, need, or time. What initially began as an enterprise to getting people to move more becomes a drain on the trainer who goes all out all the time.

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A recent article published by Les Mills (see article here) indicated that group fitness instructors’ financial compensation has barely increased in 20 years. Personal training and boutiques pay twice as much as traditional clubs (but still not a lot by many peoples’ standards). This speaks to the fact that making a living teaching group fitness is an unrealistic venture for most. Group fitness instructors do see less turnover overall, however, because many people do this as a side job in addition to a regular job.

Fact is, as a trainer, early mornings, the grind of constant training, and only getting compensation for direct client time can lead to burnout easily.

As a group fitness instructor, doing it full time is unrealistic for most and therefore hours are spent creating classes in addition to our regular jobs.

An article posted by shape.com specifically stated that for group fitness instructors, “the actual class is the easy part,” referencing the hours of preparation to research music, choreography, and the science of what you’re teaching.

Other articles point to how problematic this is not only for trainers and instructors themselves, but club owners. Finding and recruiting good help is a difficult feat for many regional managers. According to an article published by clubindustry.com, retaining millennials as employees of health clubs has been particularly challenging. If Millennials are looking to be 75% of the workforce by 2025, finding ways to create more value as a trainer or instructor is a must for retention.

Mark Miller, CEO of Merritt Athletic Clubs says Millennials feel the need for more validation and purpose.  “I believe they are attracted to jobs that have impact and align with a cause,” Miller said. “Fitness is great as it means helping people live healthy, fulfilling lives.  I believe if you teach them and show them a career path that meets their values and purpose in life [then] they stay. If not, then they job hop.”

Stephanie Silber, founder of FitSwop.com, believes that creating more value for trainers and instructors is key to retention in the industry. By paving a way for instructors and trainers to make additional streams of income through program design, choreography, or other fitness resources (such as brochures, pamphlets); Fitswop is creating a space where fitness professionals can be inspired and energized to keep creating great content for each other. The best part? Selling your own programs to other instructors or trainers working in your like-minded spaces creates more value to you, because instructors are paying each other directly. Having a space for ever evolving content and program design also gets away from the idea of a “canned” approach to fitness. Customization continued and ever evolving creativity in program design will allow trainers and instructors to always be thinking outside their box and creating new ideas for their classes and clients. 

Trainers need to consider adding another stream of income, so they don’t have to depend on their sessions alone. Additional streams of income can allow them to be more succinct with their schedules, choose clients that fit their personalities and specialties, and hone their skills as opposed to being forced to being everything to everybody.

“It’s not just about increasing our pay. It’s about increasing our worth.”

We are in a health care crisis. Our fitness professionals are a priceless commodity to getting people to move more and be healthier. To make our clubs better, we must find creative ways to invest in our fitness professionals who are on the floor training or in the group X room teaching directly. These individuals are the faces of the industry. They are the key players so to speak. Increasing their worth and value will elevate every aspect of the industry. It is not as simple as increasing their pay. It is a service profession and increasing pay can only do so much. It is about increasing their worth. Fit pros are a wealth of resources and ideas for fitness, and FitSwop strives to unlock the collective knowledge of fitness professionals.

References:

Author unspecified. “New Research Reveals Most Undervalued Resource in a Gym.” Les Mills. https://www.lesmills.com/clubs-and-facilities/research-insights/instructor-insights/new-research-reveals-most-undervalued-resource-in-a-gym/

Maechler, Amber. “Health Club Owners Face a Retention Challenge with Millennials.” Club Industry. 5 Oct. 2016. https://www.clubindustry.com/managementoperations/health-club-operators-face-retention-challenge-millennial-employees.

Nikkola, Tom. “Why so Many Personal Trainers Burnout?” https://tomnikkola.com/why-personal-trainers-burn-out/.

Smith, Jessica. “Six Things to Consider Before Becoming a Fitness Pro.” Shape Magazine. 2018. https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/6-things-consider-becoming-fitness-pro

W.I.T.S., “The Fitness Industry’s 80 Percent Annual Trainer Turnover Problem Has a Solution.” Club Industry. 3, Sep. 2019,  https://www.clubindustry.com/trends/fitness-industry-s-80-percent-annual-trainer-turnover-problem-has-solution.