There are few things as heart pumpingly, epically exciting as starting your first business. There’s a kazillion things to think about, and it’s almost impossible to sleep at night with the thoughts about what lies ahead. This enthusiasm is valuable stuff and frankly, it’s worth bottling. Hopefully, this enthusiasm will last and your personal training career will be an awesome experience for you.
You do need to think about burnout and other issues, and learn strategies to protect and look after number one! In the personal training industry, YOU are your product, so you can’t afford to let your product suffer. Here’s some advice…
Watch your posture
Are you constantly stooping over clients to correct their technique? Are you squatting or kneeling a lot? Repeated stooping can be damaging to your spine, and standing for too long, while better than sitting, can fatigue certain muscles and compromise your posture. Remember to mix things up, sitting and standing throughout the day – and maintain good posture as you go. Stretching your back, hamstrings, arms and shoulders at regular intervals is important too.
On the subject of sitting, if you are training clients indoors, think about what you will sit on. Instead of static chairs, which have their limitations, try something easy to move on. Fit-balls are a great idea and are usually within easy reach. There are some uber-cool swivel chairs and saddles available with adjustable heights (definitely worth checking out), so you can take a break and sit from time to time while teaching, and easily swivel around or move yourself around the room freely and without strain.
Repeatedly picking up after the client is a trap. Not only does it make your clients overly reliant on you, but continually flexing is a strain on your back. Obviously you’ll have to pick things up off the floor from time to time, but it’s extremely important to get the client to pick up after themselves. Alternatively, think of when you can train people on devices at waist level. Instead of continually setting your clients floor level exercises, requiring you to bend over, try mixing it up with bench based exercises. This way you can work above ground level – which means less bending!
Avoid demonstrating too much
Some of you like to demonstrate more than talk because, hey – it just feels good! It’s also sometimes easier than talking, and it’s nice to reap the rewards of incidental exercise throughout the day. Just don’t go overboard and wear yourself out. If some demonstrations are unavoidable, think about how you might balance out your routine throughout the day to conserve your energy and protect your body.
Look after your vocal cords
Being ignorant of vocal health is another trap for young players! When teaching group fitness classes, use a microphone whenever possible. Particular care needs to be taken when teaching outdoors, especially early in the morning or the evening – both popular times for personal training. Cold or dry air is not kind to vocal cords and can stress them quickly. Try wearing a scarf to keep your neck warm, sip warm water and above all, avoid yelling.
Organise visual cues
If you train people indoors, how about popping some visual cues and signs on the walls? As an instructor, sometimes you can feel like you’re like you’re a broken record, constantly repeating the same advice. You may even catch yourself repeating certain phrases in your sleep!
Visual cues can help eliminate some of the stress. They can be anything from reminders about session times, payment and even things that prefer not to mention, such as personal hygiene issues. What about having tips on how to lift, steps for a regular exercise that you repeat 100 times a day, or common cool-down stretches? Think of anything that would be helpful for your clients – and provide a saviour for your body, voice and mental fatigue!
Take care of your own body
Personal training can be demanding on your body, so make sure you take the time to de-stress your body, as well as give it the nurturing and mental stimulation required. Make sure you do enough complete workouts, rather than incidental exercises throughout the week, to maintain your own strength and fitness. In addition, think about having a regular massage to keep your well-worked bod in peak condition.
Think carefully too about what you put in your body: both food and liquid. A diet which is full of healthy whole foods (avoiding the processed stuff), vegetables and lean meats will make sure that you have the energy to give your clients your best every day.
Whether you are a personal trainer or in another helping profession, you naturally care about your clients and want to support them in achieving their goals. This is great, but in the process you’ll hear all sorts of problems and you need to learn to protect yourself – otherwise it’s a short road to burn out. Learn how to leave these issues at work and separate your working time from your personal and family time. You don’t want to take other people’s problems home to your family and friends, nor do you want to be awake at night worrying!
Take care, take a break
Personal trainers spend all day motivating, instructing and caring about their clients, so they need to look after themselves. So, as well as taking care of your body while teaching, remember to schedule regular breaks as well. This could mean occasional days off and having fun with your bestie, long weekends, or you could take off up the coast for an entire uninterrupted week. Your bod will thank you for it, and chances are, some quality downtime will keep you feeling “up” for longer!
Sage Institute of Fitness – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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