Training Tips

Mental Health Awareness: How To Avoid Client And Coach Burnout

Sonal Shahid
4 mins

Working towards a goal is exciting. Whether it's a client progressing towards a fitness objective or you, their personal trainer, designing more fitness programs in an attempt to scale your fitness business.

As exciting as it is to work towards your goal, many times, prolonged stress can affect your well being.

It's 2022, and understanding the importance of mental health conditions is a necessity.

But first things first, one must understand that mental health may not necessarily relate to a diagnosed mental illness. It's a more general term to describe one's mental health condition.

Is Mental Health As Important As Physical Health?

There are no two thoughts about it - the clear-cut answer is YES!

See it this way: your body functions are carried out by your brain. This means the performance of your physical functions is also determined by the state of your mental well-being.

In layman's terms, it's the mind-body connection that we need to holistically look at.

Okay, But How Can A Personal Trainer Face Burnout?

Many may think, a person who eats healthy, takes care of their body, and motivates their client, will not face burnout.

Truth be told, personal training is one of the most taxing and demanding careers. PTs and fitness instructors don't just spend all day in the gym, but they also have to look after their clients, analyze reports, market their business, figure out sales, and other business functions.

Managing all this is a tedious task, and if you don't have a good work-life balance, you may likely get tired, stressed, and burnt out at some point if you don't identify the symptoms and signs at an early stage and work towards the prevention of the same.

What Are Some Common Signs Of Burnout?

The stigma around mental health often leads to people ignoring any common sign of crisis or unusual behavior. To re-establish 'your normal' or recover from an uneasy phase, it's important to first and foremost realize that something is unusual.

The list is long, but some of the very common signs that may eventually lead to burnout if continued for a prolonged period are:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of passion
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness

That being said, it doesn't mean that if you are not motivated for a few days in a row, you may be facing a bigger problem. It's best to consult a professional physician or a trained crisis counselor if you face any of the above.

How You Can Help Clients Dealing With Mental Health Conditions

Just like in a work environment, it's the job of the manager to support their employees; in practice, you act as the 'manager' to your clients in a training setup.

Clients look up to their coaches, not only for physical health but also mental well-being. Thus, it's important that you recognize any discrepancy in a client's behavior and actively use strategies to help the matter.

In general, some ways you can focus on your clients mental health is through:

1. Listening to them

Many times, what a client lacks is a support system. Now you don't have to become their family to show your support, but you can help foster a community of clients where they can openly communicate with you and with each other (like in the case of group training). The most important point to note here is that you must actively listen to their concerns and pain points and not just hear them out of obligation. The key is to offer genuine emotional support.

2. Not acting like their therapist

Just because you are coaching clients towards their fitness goals does not mean you have to act like their health doctor, especially when you are not certified for the same. What you can do, however, is give them feedback and advice wherever required but refrain from diagnosing any illness or disorders. For healthy coach-client relationships, you must know where to draw a boundary, even if it is about helping clients.

3. Comforting them

Majority of coaches underestimate the power of a good talk. Communication can help reduce stress, encourage positive behaviors, and assist in speedy recovery. One way to comfort your clients is by sharing your own experiences with them if you have faced something similar. This breaks the stigma of pushing things under the rug and fosters a positive environment.

4. Helping them reset

Lack of motivation or loss of passion, as stated earlier, are some signs of burnout. One way of recovering from such emotions is by breaking the monotony of everyday routine and switching things up. For example, people take vacations as a break from work. Similarly, by readjusting rest days or changing your client's workout routine can help rejuvenate them and restore their energy.

5. Being patient

Finally, you must understand that it's not your responsibility entirely to help each and every client restore their equilibrium. You can try various strategies to motivate clients, but don't be too hard on them and/or yourself. Understand who wants your help and focus your energy in that direction.

What You Can Do For Yourself If You Face Coach Burnout

How will you be able to help or coach clients efficiently if you're not keeping well? You take an off, visit a doctor, take medicines, etc., when you get a fever.

Consider burnout as the same, and hence its signs shouldn't be ignored, and steps to deal with it must be taken immediately. You can start with the following:

1. Setting boundaries

As the name suggests, burnout is a result of constantly doing the same activities without any pause or break. Combined with stress, exhaustion, responsibilities, etc., it can get aggravated. You need to set the alarm to prevent reaching this stage. Start by defining your working hours and abiding by them.

2. Scheduling your own rest days

When creating a fitness regime, you include rest days for clients, so why not schedule time off or rest days for yourself? You can block some hours in your calendar for 'me time' and indulge in activities that help you disconnect from other things. It's also good to take off days such as on the weekends, or some days in the month, as per your schedule and requirement. Most important part? - Do not cancel your rest days!

3. Prioritizing yourself

Yes, you need to take care of your clients, but only after you are in the right headspace. Once again, if you are exhausted during a live session, for instance, you will not be able to motivate and guide your client, and as a result they will not be able to reap the benefits of their training. This is why self care is crucial, so that your energy levels are up and you can train your clients effectively.

4. Reassessing your goals

Do you feel unsatisfied with your business? If that's a nod, it's time to revisit your purpose and goals and redefine how you want things to be. It's okay to pause, go over details, and reroute your strategies. There's no point in continuing something if it doesn't bring you happiness. You can even talk to your colleagues and clients to take feedback and advice and make changes accordingly.

Final Note

To understand mental health, the first step is to raise awareness. Awareness of what it is, the signs, the root cause, and how to deal with it. Then comes the action part. Here one must analyze what works for them - do you feel better when you disconnect or when you contribute to a community event? Find want helps you relax and continue on that path. And finally, concentrate on your own recovery and growth - as they say, help yourself before you jump to help others!

Disclaimer: This article has been published in the event of mental health awareness month. Do not take the information provided here as exhaustive as the article covers the sensitive issue of mental health briefly and from a personal trainer perspective. It's advisable to conduct your own research and visit certified physicians or professional organizations if you are struggling with mental health. This article is written with the intention to raise awareness on how a personal trainer can take certain steps in day-to-day life to be more considerate towards their clients and themselves. In no way are we intending to disrespect anyone.

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