Beat Burnout, Part 2

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 12:12
Posted in category Fitness

Finally, these dedicated trainers hold themselves to the relentless scheduling mentioned earlier, at first to build their client base, then later because these clients need and depend on them. Jennifer Phegley, who now owns her own Personal Training business and has since cut her work schedule to fit her lifestyle (instead of the other way around), states, “Don’t over schedule yourself just for the money. Build your business slowly. Be selective about your clients. You have to learn to say NO at some point or you will be the one who loses in the end.”

The process of burnout is different for everyone, but researchers have identified three main symptoms:

Detachment: which is defined as a negative or indifferent response to those people who are in one’s service or care. Trainers may feel like they are giving too much and getting nothing back. They feel that the people who need them, also exhaust and drain them. So they pull back. They detach.

Dianne McCaughey explains, “This can manifest itself by something as little as being five minutes late for appointments to as big as canceling appointments altogether, sometimes at the last minute.”

Exhaustion: which is often physical as well as mental, is the second symptom. Early warning signs can be body fatigue, a nagging sore throat, frequents illnesses. Other symptoms might be less obvious. There may be feelings of general anxiety or sadness that the trainer can’t find a cause for. In fact they may even feel guilty about these emotions. After all, they finally have the job they have striven for, often with a high investment in education, money and time. Without a “cause” these feeling can be disturbing to many trainers.

Loss of satisfaction: the job just isn’t fun anymore. The trainer may feel grouchy or moody. He or she may begin clock watching or a client countdown, “Only two more to go and I’m outta here!” As opposed to the early days when they looked forward to seeing the next client.

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight and it is influenced by factors such as genetic predisposition, type of profession and lifestyle choices. While Trainers may not always be able to control some of the stress factors in their jobs, they can reduce the consequences of total job burnout by recognizing certain behaviors.

“We all have a tendency to get on the fast track and forget to get off,” states Barbara Pettis, RN, West Florida AHEC board member and a home care coordinator with Northwest Florida Home Health. This “rush-rush” mentality is often fuel for unrealistic expectations. Professionals deny their own feelings and just keep running. John-Henry Pfifferline, PhD., director of the Center for Professional Well Being in Durham North Carolina states, “If you say ‘yes’ too many times to too many people there’s no energy left to nurture the relationships that nurture you: your friends and family.”

Additionally, being in a role of leadership exacts a price. Dr. Pfifflering adds that professionals have got to stop selling themselves as “invulnerable and having all of this energy to work ungodly hours.”

Listen to your body. Fatigue, anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed by responsibilities is important warning signs. It’s your body’s beeper. You need to answer the call. It’s like the old saying, “Pay me now or pay me later.” All of us know “pay later” means with interest, and those costs can get very high.
Jennifer Phegley suggests resisting the temptation to go to 50 minute hours to get in more clients. “You may be able to squeeze in one more client that way,” she says, “But the stress and distraction of constantly working by the clock will eventually take its toll.” Dianne McCaughey, who trains 7 to 8 clients a day, gets a massage once a week and listens to calming music when driving to and from appointments.

Reduce long hours. Realize you can’t do everything. Delegate where you can. Prioritize what is important to you. Think of ways to work smart, as opposed to working long.

Dianne McCaughey has developed a business relationship with another trainer. She refers clients she cannot take to the other trainer who in turns gives McCaughey a percentage of the hourly fee. “It’s win-win for everyone,” Dianne says, “I know these clients are getting expert training. The other trainer gets business. And I still make money without working myself to death.”

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