You probably became a fitness professional because of your personal interests. Maybe you were a college athlete, majored in kinesiology or maybe you were just a superfan of a studio and decided to teach there. If you’ve been in the business for a while, you probably have friends teaching at different studios, and the lines between your work life and professional life have become blurred. It’s a problem most professionals today have to deal with to some degree. We polled professionals in the fitness and wellness industry to understand how to balance it all — without burning out. Try these suggestions to gain back some of your sanity and work-life balance.
Manage screen time
Let’s start with the ultimate killer of work-life balance — technology. It’s your connection to the outside world, sure, but it is also tethering you to work. “I turn my devices off at 9 p.m. sharp. No matter where I am or what I am doing, all of my electronic devices go to ‘do not disturb’ or airplane mode at 9 p.m. on the dot,” says Sarah Ray, Head of Business Development at Volt Athletics. “I use any time I have after 9 p.m. to read, meditate or talk to my husband.” Not touching your phone until a certain time in the morning is also an effective strategy.
Create better boundaries
If you don’t set your own boundaries, you could wind up feeling overwhelmed and overworked. “Learn to say no. You have to be protective of your time,” says Maria Disla, Founder & CEO Pure Indoor Cycling. “As instructors we’re all about our clients and sometimes we get asked to take the next class, or grab a coffee after teaching. It’s hard to say no but if you blocked off a few hours of self-care or a research session for yourself, don’t be afraid to say no when asked to drop your pre-set plans for something else. People will understand and you’ll feel much better about being able to feel in control of how you manage your time.”
Schedule your own workout
You teach fitness because you love it, right? It can be so easy to let your own workout fall by the wayside, though, when you are spending all day tending to others’ needs. “Every Sunday, I look at my week and schedule in my workouts!” says Ray. “This is non-negotiable. It goes on my calendar, around all my other professional and personal obligations.” Don’t forget — workouts are self-care, too. And, of course, taking time to try out new workouts will only make you a better instructor.
Use a different part of your brain
In order to prevent burnout, take some time to do something fulfilling that’s not at all related to work. “I take pottery classes, which help me to shut off my business owner brain,” says Melissa Benhaim, co-founder of Lumos Yoga & Barre. “I also make sure to make time every night to cook dinner for myself because it’s my me-time and helps me decompress.”
Make non-fitness friends
Fitness studios or wellness centers can be much more casual work environments than most, so it’s not surprising if some of your best friends are also your current or former coworkers — or even your boss. When you’re constantly socializing with colleagues or industry friends, it can be all too easy to blur those personal and professional lines and always end up talking shop. While work relationships are healthy and important, it’s good for your mental health to expand your support network.
Work in batches
We’re big fans of batching work, and so is Alex Robles, MD physician and personal trainer at White Coat Trainer. “I set a timer for 30 minutes for each of the tasks from my to-do list. For those 30 minutes I am laser-focused and keep my phone far away and other distractions at bay. This way, I work out for 30 minutes, I work on our online business for 30 undistracted minutes, I watch YouTube videos only for 30 minutes, etc.” By batching your work, you can focus on one task at time — improving productivity and focus. It is very clearly delineated the time that you will spend on each task, so that you can minimize the creep of work into personal time.
In our hyper-connected day and age, it may be impossible to completely separate work and your personal life — especially in a lifestyle field like this when they are so intertwined — but creating boundaries and scheduling your time methodically can go a long way towards preventing burnout.