How many of us, no matter how much we love running bootcamps and training people, have found ourselves in moments where we just want to pack it all in and quit?
Whether it’s because people aren’t coming to our sessions, we’re working too many weird hours and not seeing out families or the business is just not bringing in enough money for us to feel comfortable.
These are the low moments in which we wonder if it’s all worth it.
A few years ago I was chatting with a trainer based here in Australia. Let’s call them Rebecca (fake name). We’d exchange the odd email and Facebook conversation and they were a great part of the Bootcamp Ideas community, often offering advice and their own experiences to new trainers.
Over the years I watched Rebecca’s business grow, they launched an online program, started a few more locations and had a great following. Then I watched as more opportunities came knocking for Rebecca to which she said yes, yes and yes.
A few months later I received a message from her asking me if I knew anyone who would like to buy her business.
Shocked and surprised I asked what had happened. A job had lined up for her in an old industry she worked in which offered her some stability and her weekends back. Between all of her sessions, the different locations, the different projects and opportunities she had started she was completely, utterly burnt out.
Chatting to her it was like chatting to a different person. The dream and fire Rebecca had was gone, replaced by a desire to just have a ‘normal life’. Where had this firecracker of a trainer gone?
It doesn’t have to be the end
More recently I was chatting to another long time reader, let’s call her Matilda. She had built her group fitness business up to the point where she had her own indoor facility.
It was going great guns except for one major thing, her husband and her where like ships in the night. She’d be up and to the studio bright and early, returning later in the morning after he had left for work. In the evening there was just enough time to hand over the kids to her husband as he walked in the door before she returned to the studio to run the evening sessions.
Eventually she felt she had to sell the business.
After a few months of rest and a move to a new town the bug started coming back to run group fitness sessions again. She started again, this time on her terms. Only a set number of sessions a week and no more. No morning sessions. No studio overheads. A simple pricing structure.
It’s going great for her with dozens of people rocking up to try it out in the first week and a quickly forming group of regulars.
Burn out in our industry is really common. I talked about it a lot last year after my own burn out.
Unlike Rebecca though it doesn’t have to mean quitting the industry. That’s just reacting away from one thing into something else. Instead it can be like Matilda, using a break to allow time to recover, reassess and then have another go.
Having quit, pivoted and restarted a bunch of times myself, this is one of the things that interests me the most. That is building a sustainable business – not just in the profit margins but in your ability to keep putting energy into it too.
Over the years of running Bootcamp Ideas and it’s various programs I’ve helped dozens of trainers get refocused on what’s really important to them.
- adding 20 new regulars to their weekly sessions
- helping their business and life to become more balanced
- improve client enjoyment, results and retention
- be rid of high maintenance clients who eat up your time and energy
- being profitable and still getting to have a weekend
- start their own regular training again
In the rest of this article I want to share with you some of the common pitfalls I see trainers make that leads them to get fed up and quit.
My first attempt at a group fitness business was an utter failure and I had to close up shop. Luckily for me I learned these lessons early but for some of us we don’t learn them until it seems too late.
Never fear though, I’ve got your back and am going to show you how you can run a thriving business that you love, on your own terms.
The pitfalls trainers make that cause them to quit
These are the main mistakes I see trainers make that cause them to feel like they have no other choice but to quit or close up shop. My hope is that by sharing these you can avoid them in your own business.
1. Going all-in too fast
Just today a local trainer was telling me about this fantastic trainer near here. She had an amazing following and pretty soon was able to rent her own studio and kit it out. But she didn’t take the time to crunch the numbers and before she knew it she was over her head and had to close down.
2. Not giving it enough time
Any kind of business takes time, but building a group fitness business to the point were it can support you full time is a slow process. It’s not a matter of pushing a button and having 100 clients. Your number of clients and your income will grow over time so you need to give it more than 6 months.
3. Not being clear about Why
Working the crazy hours of a fitness trainer can quickly get out of hand. Driving around, setting up, planning sessions, following up clients and running sessions can all contribute towards owning a fitness business that burns you out. By being clear about Why you’re doing this you can instead create a business that supports you and is manageable as it grows.
4. Not spending time learning
Learning marketing, business and money skills is a must if you run your own business. Don’t let some punk kid or teacher who told you when you were in school that you’re dumb or not good at something hold you back now. You’re already running a business, you already have people following you, this will empower you to help more people.
5. Not saying no
As you gain some success you’ll find that other people want in too. You’ll start getting offered different opportunities and it can be really, really flattering (why, thank you). But these can also eat up a lot of your energy and time so you need to learn to say no sometimes.
So what do you do if you’re heading down the path to burn out and quitting?
Most trainers believe they have to work themselves to the bone to build a thriving fitness business.
Instead, I’ve discovered that getting clear about Why, learning some business skills and creating a great community is just as important if you want to avoid burning out.
It really saddens me to see this happen so I want to share with you some things you can do now to avoid burning out and quitting and an upcoming course I’m running that will help a lot too.
This article was getting way to long though so I’ve split it into two parts. I’ll share Part 2 next week!
For now, share with us below in comments which pitfall you think you might be falling into and I’ll try to help.
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.