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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Work/life Balance and Career Sustainability

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: Work/life Balance and Career Sustainability

How do you balance your schedule, your family, your friends, personal time, and still hit your monthly goals? Our industry is notorious for burning people out - what's the solution?

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on August 21st, 2010

Andrew Dianiska, August 21, 2010 at 4:30pm: Unfortunately I've noted the development of a 'sales' mindset on the PT side over the course of the last decade or -- with every trainer constantly on the hustle 'from hunger' and PT managers constantly trying to get trainers to renew clients prior to their session being up simply to try and max out for a monthly goal.

IMHO it is precisely this 'sales' mindset that risks 'burnout' by causing the trainer to reduce his athletes to mere $$$. yes, we have to eat, but a lawyer or any other professional who tries and 'max' out their billables ends up reducing the quality of the work product and eventually comes to resent their clients and themselves for it.

IME, the challenge is to NOT try and max out the hourly/ monetary goals per se, but to instead look upon training/ coaching as a craft that one can work on over years.

Sadly this approach is not congruent with the corporate 'sales' approach which currently holds sway.

so, how to prevent 'burnout'?

'pay yourself first'-- make sure that you retain something physical exclusively for you-- and make sure that you block out the time to pursue it and don't just try and fit it in around clients.

if you have a yoga class you like to take then make sure that your schedule permits you to do just that-- SCHEDULE it in just as you would a regular client.

this includes personal time alone and with your family

second-- and this is a biggie-- SCREEN your calls and break the chains of your cell phone.

you aren't an ER Trauma surgeon or a Wall St trader-- no one will die or lose Bns if you don't pick up and serve their needs immediately.

listen to their message, look at your schedule and only accommodate them IF IT WORKS FOR YOU

third-- learn the art of the negotiating "obfuscation".

meaning that if a client wants a switch don't immediately give it up but tell them you'll check-- present an impression of scarcity-- and when you do accommodate them tell them that you were able to get another client to move to make it happen.

this may seem f*cked up, but clients will turn an inch into a yard and come to expect never ending accommodation if they think that it is just you that they are 'inconveniencing'

plus, should you ever actually need them to switch, you can frame it as a quid pro quo for a past switch.

believe me, it makes the business side of the relationship go much more smoothly.

fourth-- charge them for last minute cancellations and no shows-- you aren't ripping them off, you are holding them accountable.

there can be exceptions for emergencies-- but a late night at work for them shouldn't cost you.

generally I've found that by forgiving the first and reiterating the policy i can count on them adhering w/o resentment, whereas if I charge them for the first then they think I'm kind of a d*ck and that intrudes upon the relationship.

fifth-- be wary of the high drag client-- the one who exhausts you just listening to their voicemails. Best thing I ever learned is that I can fire a client.

while you don't want to make a habit of it, if you have someone who you just dread, no matter how many billable hours a week they may provide, you must weigh their value in versus their cost upon your product as a whole.

best thing i ever did was fire LB as a client in 1988-- three AM half hours per week and i would spend Sunday nights with a sinking feeling just knowing that I'd have to deal with that vampire first thing Mon AM.

sixth-- do not let $$$ ever become the reason you train someone.

WTF you say?

I had a coach many years back who told us that he didn't train us for money but because he loved what he did-- and when challenged as to why he didn't train us for free, he simply replied that if he didn't get paid for teaching/ coaching/ training, he'd have to go out and flip burgers or dig ditches and then wouldn't be able to do what he loved.

all of us in some way dug the dynamic-- it worked for us-- and it is important to bear that in mind each and every client contact hour.

and i say this with in excess of 30,000 client contact hours since 1982

hope someone finds this useful-- pax et lux

Brent Brookbush, August 21, 2010 at 6:19pm: Great points, and a fair argument Andrew. The sales mindset is not going away, but all of your points should be a staple of professional development. That is, if we wish to have a stable, reliable workforce that will produce for themselves, their employers, and represent the industry in a positive manner for years or even decades like yourself.

Thanks again for spending the time to right such a thorough post.

Derrick Price, August 22, 2010 at 10:41am: Well said Andrew.

To answer the first question, I would recommend on figuring out how much time per day do you need to work to reach your desired outcome. Then once you learn how many hours you need to work/day, then dedicate a time block (morning, afternoon, night) to work. I enjoy working morning from 6am -Noon. 6 hours of work and then I'm done for the rest of the day and devote my time to family, personal interests or other ventures. In my opinion, the traditional personal training split shift (train only during prime time hours or accommodate your schedule to others) makes it very challenging to focus on other aspects of your life.

To answer the second question, I learned from Tony Robbins that the #1 thing most people want in their career is not more money, but rather personal growth or an opportunity to grow. And I couldn't agree more (And the nice thing is usually with more growth comes more money). Assess the situation you are currently in and determine where you're headed. Dead end jobs only kill the soul.

Find time and save money to keep your education up. If you stop learning, you stop growing, you stop getting better at your craft. Once every quarter, you should be attending a new workshop/seminar/conference, and once a month you should be picking up a new book or finding new material.

For me, burn out occurs when things become too comfortable, too easy. Nothing is changing day to day. While it may be comfortable to be in that type of position, you're probably not growing either. Adding variability to your day to day operations can prevent mental exhaustion.

Brent Brookbush, August 22, 2010 at 10:57am: Great points DP,

Just before I read your post, I had thought about "setting hours" and the effect that had on my life. I think any trainer would benefit by choosing a peak time (morning or evening) and work either, through the lunch rush, or start with the lunch rush and work through the evening. In a rare set of circumstances I managed to set my hours from 9am to 5pm at the last health club I worked. If there is enough demand you can set your schedule, rather than your clients doing it for you.

Love your points about education… there is no doubt in my mind that my interest in training peaks when I have new information to work with.

Great stuff…

Andrew Dianiska, September 1, 2010 at 12:41pm: Unfortunately I think that 'sales mindset' is deadly to really good quality coaching/

I understand that you have spent time on the corporate side and that from that position the 'sales mindset' is pre-requisite in the big box “globo-gym” environment-- my point is that THAT mindset by it's very nature leads to 'burnout'-- or rather that that mindset is a primary cause for trainer turnover-- whether the trainer leaves to pursue another line of employment or simply departs with his book of clients for pleasanter climes.

if a trainer is maxing out his hours at a “globogym,” he can give himself an instant raise by taking his client portfolio around the corner to an “indy” trainer gym and cutting out the middle man-- if he has 1-2 referral machine clients he will no longer need more than a place to practice his craft-- he doesn't need the globo-leads.

so what the mindset does is actually become loss leader-- rather, while it works great with the newbies and will get them pumping out 'production', the veteran won't respond well to it no matter what.

in fact IME the only vets that stay within such a system generally have a substantial private book that they train outside their globo-gym and simply use globo-gym as a way to pay taxes and show income.

© 2014 Brent Brookbush

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