Work-life balance? Not easy.
But it’s so very important for sustainability, mental health, and to avoid burnout. Trust me—with 15 years in the industry, I speak from experience that you will be more successful in your career once you learn to find balance and work smarter, not harder.
Achieving work-life balance is not something that you can achieve overnight, and it is not something that you will get right out of the gate as a new fitness professional. However, starting to implement these three tips as soon as you can will help you a great deal on your journey.
A confession: I have been the trainer who works 12 hour days, up at 4 or 5am everyday and working until 8 or 9pm each day because of “hustle culture”. I used to think that if I was working a lot then I was successful. Because all of these people wanted to train with me and my business was booming, I thought I was winning. What I was actually doing was just running myself into the ground, missing out on family events and dinners with friends, lacking sleep, and not putting 100% into each and every session with all my clients.
There is a big misconception (especially on social media) around “grinding” and hard work, meaning you have to be on the clock 24/7 or else you are lazy. This is false! What is more important is finding a work-life balance and performing YOUR best in whatever you do.
Once I found work-life balance, I found that I actually felt successful as an entrepreneur. This is why we all go into business for ourselves, right? Freedom of your own time, the ability to make your own schedule, and a passion for what we do! Here’s how to find that balance:
1. Set boundaries with your fitness clients
You must set boundaries with your clients right out of the gate. This means telling them things like expected response time for text messages, when you check your email, session times that are available. This is essential to prevent false promises or expectations. When I was just starting out, I didn’t know how to create these boundaries! I always felt the need to answer text messages immediately so that they knew I cared about them.
Over time though, however, it began to create more stress for me and also a false understanding for the clients. I would get texts from clients when they were out for dinner, asking what to order! The problem is when you have a lot of clients doing it, it is very wearing. I always ensure that clients know in advance that I am very busy and will respond to text messages and emails that are not urgent within 24 hours and they all understand and there are no hurt feelings. This also goes for social media! I have found that a lot of clients like to DM me on Instagram for responses to business-related things too. Once again, I learned to kindly let them know how many DM’s I get in a day and it will often be missed. This helps funnel communications too—I let them know upfront that it’s better to email or text me on my business” phone number (read #2!) if they want to ensure I see it.
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2. Turn off notifications—and don’t give out your personal phone number
This is 🔑🔑🔑, people!!! I have learned the hard way to not give out my personal phone number to my clients. I have a separate phone number linked to one of my old iPhones (we all have an old phone or two kicking around, right?) and I pay $25 a month for that phone just to separate work with personal texts and phone calls. The reason I do this is so that when I am off the clock (weekends or evenings) that work iPhone is left behind, which means I can actually enjoy my personal life and not be thinking about work all the time.
The same goes for notifications, when I am on vacation or often on the weekends I will turn off work related notifications in order to really be in the moment and enjoy life without thinking about work. Both of these tips have been so important to me being able to step away from my fitness trainer/business owner life and just enjoy time with my family and friends—or actually just work out—in peace!
You can also use Trainerize to manage all your client communications—and keep your personal and professional lives separate that way.
3. Learn that it is okay, and good, to say no
Know your schedule each week. Choose what days/times you want to block off for training hours, what hours you want or need for office hours, and most importantly, block off your own workout time and your personal time. All of these things are important so you need to set your schedule and stick to it!
Often clients will ask to switch their appointments and expect you to just accommodate them because you have an “opening”; however, I have learned that you are also important! Your clients won’t leave you if you say no to them. What I have often found is that if you say no, they will often accommodate your schedule and work around it (most of the time). Stick to your guns and remember your mental and physical health is also important!
I hope these 3 tips help you to find work-life balance because I truly believe it is very important. I have been doing this 15 years and now have two young children so it is so important for me to be present when I am home with them. All of the things above I have established have allowed me to do so and I can honestly say I have a good work-life balance (90% of the time—lol!).