As much as I want to say quit, become a stripper, and don’t look back, I know most of you are above that life. Unless you want to replace sweatpants with banana hammocks, then maybe leaving the fitness hustle is for you.
However. The majority of you visit this blog for concrete, sustainable, and practical advice to last you the length of your training careers.
The truth is: burn out and personal trainer go together like PB & J, Guinness and Irish men, Kim Kardashian and arm pit hair, Lifestyles condoms and shitty sex.
You get the point.
The Grind of a Personal Trainer
Right out the gate, a new trainer is drawn to a life with the potential to earn $100k +, all while chilling in a gym and wearing sweatpants to work. Sounds glamorous, right???
So in your first year, you fill your client books, train 8-12 hours straight, and make some serious cash. You get such an adrenaline rush from helping others that you get home from a full day’s training, feeling like you just butt fucked the world.
Until about a year later, it begins to wear on you. You realize how exhausting training 8-12 hours can be, that training is also a psychology job, and you don’t even have time to take care of your damn self. And forget partying like a rockstar on the weekends. You’re at work. Now you’d rather jump into a pool of oil, and you ponder if the money is even worth it.
So Yeah…It Ain’t That Glamorous
Forgive me for being a negative Nancy, but this is the god honest truth. Sure, I love coaching, writing programs, and sweating bullets on the soccer field every day, but it’s never been smooth sailing. Admittedly, I’ve contemplated marrying a sugar daddy, pretending I can get off to sex with an 80 year old man, and becoming a rich housewife.
Kiddingggggg. Come on…I went to Johns Hopkins University. I’m smarter than that.
While I recognize I’ve been fortunate to run my own business, train, write, blog, get pedicures during my lunch breaks, and drink kale smoothies daily, there are several drawbacks:
1) 401k is nonexistent.
2) Health insurance is shitty.
3) 5am is my alarm.
4) And paid time off…yeah, not happening.
Also, what the hell is full-time with benefits??
Because of all this, trainers are forced to fill voids by well, working LONG hours and snagging any clients they can get.
Now this isn’t an effort to deter newbies from the training world. Because it certainly is one of the most rewarding careers out there. Besides being Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
What I want to do is provide fair warning for those who believe personal training is all blow, hoes, parties, and protein shakes. It’s not. However, I do feel after over four years in the game, I’m finally beginning to be more efficient with my time. The way I see it is: if you can’t help yourself, you sure as hell can’t help others.
So what can you do to not burn out as a personal trainer?
1) Put in effort and consistency.
Off the bat, you have to give a lot of shits. Just good old-fashioned hard work. Any trainer who feels they are above putting in the 5am mornings and working late nights won’t survive. Initially, this has to be done. But here’s the thing: it’s worth it. Once you put in consistent practice daily, clients will notice that you’re not a total douche. They will love you and remain brand loyal. Eventually, you’ll be able to set your own hours and choose WHO YOU WANT TO TRAIN. Again, it has taken me over four years to be able to say no to people.
Another thing to consider is hard work means truly loving what you do. Just because you have a six pack and a love for fitness doesn’t mean clients will come knocking down your door to blow you. Take pride in your work, find your niche (for me, soccer fitness and biomechanics), and create content to separate yourself from the pack.
2.) Network with people.
Not to sound banal and like every other career counselor out there, but networking gets you noticed. By simply attending seminars, conferences, workshops, or happy hours, you’re putting yourself in a strong position of endless opportunity. Maybe someone will hire you full-time, be a badass reference, or promote your products/blog one day. Don’t be afraid to get in on the circle jerk of the fitness industry. It works.
3.) Get on social media.
I’m ubiquitous on social media, almost annoying. And my friends get on me alllllllllllll the time for it. But YO. It’s fucking FREE ADVERTISING. Do you really think I’m dumb enough to fork out cash on Google Adwords and flash banners that no one even clicks on? Methinks not.
Social media is effing glorious. It allows us to spread a positive message to reach millions. It also allows us to be engaged with others in live time. Don’t be an idiot. Utilize it.
4.) Start charging more.
This may be the least sexy, almost unnerving piece of advice. So bear with me.
Now that you’ve established a name for yourself and walked the walk, it’s time to place value on what you do. Charging $40, even $50 an hour isn’t going to cut it once you’re a few years into your career. And I get that it’s awkward as hell asking your clients for more money for a service that is considered a luxury.
However. Consider this:
Say you charge $40/hr and your goal is to make $300 for the day. That means you would have to train for 7.5 hours.
On the other hand, you can charge $70/hr and train less than 4.5 hours.
What does this mean? I’m good at math, duh.
In all seriousness, your time is precious. If you’re THAT good at what you do, your clients will be willing to pay more for your services. More importantly, you will have diligence and MORE ENERGY for the hours you do train. Energy = value.
Look. 7.5 hours of training is a lot, and there’s no way in hell you’re going to be an energizer bunny for every session. If you are, you’re on cocaine.
Your clients will certainly pay more for someone is who more engaged, with it, and tuned into the session 100%. Because, no one wants a half-assed trainer.
With that said, the key is creating content, giving a shit, and bringing the energy.