Recently, I heard about a fitness coach who quit his job and went on a long break because of the burnout he was facing at work. I have known 20 such cases in the fitness industry where the coaches are outright facing burnout. Due to this they are taking measures that are harming their entire career and growth. I have coached 3000 people so far, and I did this without any guidance from a senior coach or an established coaching firm. I made a few mistakes, I learned things on my own. Here’s my experience to help you to avoid burnout in the fitness industry:
1. Fix your schedule: Online Fitness coaching comes with the ease of managing clients on your phone and laptop. Coaches usually take this ease ‘for granted’. They forget how important it is to maintain a schedule on a day to day basis. Make sure you have a set schedule of waking up, sitting on your working desk, replying to emails and texts, taking calls, your gym and sports time and a set bedtime. Do not compromise on your schedule to revert to a mentee by going out of the way. You will set up wrong expectations which will hamper your career later.
2. Streamline your Earnings: This applies especially for freelancers or those who work on a commission basis with other companies. Make sure you have a set, not too high, goal of ‘salary’ every month. Once you cross it, stop enrolling further mentees. Otherwise, your coaching quality will suffer. In the beginning, a high number of clients feels like a jackpot, but managing that jackpot is not everyone’s cup of tea. Remember you are here to work for more than 10 years, not for six months.
3. Do not become a coach just because you lost weight: Yes, that’s a bit harsh but right. This field is booming and every second person who has lost weight wants to be a coach. People assume that it is just about calories in versus out. Coaching is much more than that. Coaching requires much more empathy, logical reasoning and scientific temperament to get into debates with your own mentees while learning new things every day.
4. Systemize your work: Online coaching is not just about sending updates over WhatsApp. Ensure that you have a proper database of every mentee, along with their records. Keep everything sorted in a folder, client wise. If you are a pen and paper person, get things printed. This might look like a task in the beginning but when your client count crosses 500, it comes handy. Sometimes even when an old client comes back, you can refer to the database, and give them a sense of personalisation and security. This shows them your level of commitment. Clients are usually surprised that you remember them and are ready to take on the journey again!
5. Take a rest / off day: I made this mistake. I worked 24/7 at the beginning of my career. I was hustling all the time which burned me out. I missed social meetups, I was always on the phone, I missed taking my family out and this affected them. Try not to repeat this mistake. Make sure you keep your weekends free. I still see coaches keep Sundays as check-in days for their mentees at the cost of their personal life. For the entire universe, majorly, Sunday is the Funday. Keeping your Wednesday off won’t help your social life or family in any case.
6. You are not a therapist or a friend: Make sure you understand this and make sure you make this understood to your customers. There is a thin line which shouldn’t be crossed. Your clients are not your friends. It is a transactional and a professional relationship that you are building with them. This field is pristine in our country and more often than not, mentees open up about things that are not your expertise. As a coach, it is your job to make them fit and healthy and not to counsel or console them. Always maintain distance. Otherwise, their issues will become your issues and will hinder your mental health in the long run.
In a Nutshell, coaching is just like any other job, where you need breaks, you make mistakes, you learn and you grow. The major difference here is that you are your own boss. You get to decide how your work life turns out to be. Creating a healthy work-life balance is a difficult task, but it will sustain you in the long run. Remember, you are a coach, but to be a good one, you need to coach yourself into a healthy work ethic!