How Prevalent is Burnout in the Gym Industry?

burnout

I think a major problem is on the rise in the gym owner world. To me, it seems like it’s becoming more prevalent every month and it’s severely affecting the gym owner’s health, both mentally and physically.

The major problem at hand: Many gym owners are increasingly overwhelmed, which all too often is giving way to burnout.

Far too many gym owners are underwater. There comes a moment for almost every gym owner where they realize what they thought they were signing up for – helping people by offering great coaching, programming  and equipment –  isn’t at all the reality they are experiencing on a day-to-day basis in running a business. Where did all the need for understanding financial numbers, productivity, organization, conflict management, hiring and firing, long hours, marketing, spreadsheets, creating systems, partnering with corporations, and planning events come from?

Why didn’t anyone tell them these were part of the job description?

Burnout happens when the demands of your business outweigh the resources you have to meet those demands.

Read that again. Burnout happens when the demands of your business outweigh the resources you have to meet those demands.

This means that of the list above – understanding financial numbers, productivity, organization, conflict management, hiring and firing, long hours, marketing, spreadsheets, creating systems, partnering with corporations, and planning events – if you haven’t learned these or hired outside experts to help you with them, you will very quickly be on the path to overwhelmed and burnout.

Of course, even the best and most experienced gym owner will have days that just suck. But, if your days that suck are beginning to outnumber your good days, you really need to start paying attention.

What are Some of the Warning Signs of Burnout?

  • Increasing levels of stress. Everything feels like one more heavy thing you’ve got to add to the to-do list.
  • Consistent Irritability. Your fuse is short. Things that typically wouldn’t bother you now do.
  • Lack of sleep. Sleepless nights, or you fall asleep and then wake up after a couple of hours to a mind that’s racing.
  • Cynicism. You see everything through glass-half-empty lenses. The voices of negative self-talk about others, and yourself, only get louder and louder.
  • Lack of focus. Because you’re physically and mentally exhausted, it’s nearly impossible to concentrate. And because you can’t concentrate, it takes you longer to get things done, which causes things to pile up and create more stress.
  • Eating habits digress. You either are eating less because you’ve lost your appetite, or you allow yourself to eat whatever crap is in front of you.
  • Hopelessness. It doesn’t seem like there will ever be a light at the end of the tunnel… or the light at the end of a tunnel feels like it’s going to be a train.
  • Avoiding others. It feels like no one understands, and everyone requires too much energy from you.
  • Lack of motivation. The things that used to excite and motivate you now feel like just more “things” you have to do.
  • Feelings of “eff it.” The more overwhelmed you get, the harder it is to actually care. And because everyone else seems to be doing better than you, your trust in them begins to erode.

If at least half of these describe you, begin to seek outside help before you spiral down any further. The investment of money and time will be worth it, I promise.

What Can You Do?

  • Know you are not alone. This is a season that is all too familiar for a gym owner. But, if you catch it early enough it’s just a season, and you can dig yourself out of it.
  • Don’t think you need to change everything all at once. Just focus on one big thing a day.
  • Keep your “truths list” handy. When you’re in a good season, write down things that inspire you – quotes, promises, advice, etc. so when you’re in a dark season, you can refer to them often.
  • Read a book or listen to a podcast. Find a good motivational and inspirational resource that can get you out of your own head for a few minutes.
  • Get outside. Breathe fresh air. Do something active. Gain some perspective.
  • Lean into other gym owners who understand and have been there. This is key. You won’t necessarily want to do this, but it is what makes the difference between the ones who continue spiraling downward, and the ones who rise out of the murky waters.
  • Ask for help early and often. Others can’t know how to help if they don’t even know about the struggle.
  • Take time off. You may say, “I can’t. I don’t have time.” And, I’ll say back to you, “If you don’t, your health will force you to.”

Burnout in gym owners is real, and it seems to be on the rise because running a business is hard. Especially if you don’t have the experience and resources you need to run a business successfully.

If you think you might be experiencing being severely overwhelmed and/or burnout, you’re probably right. Know it won’t go away by itself, so don’t ignore it. Don’t let yourself become a casualty of this industry by not getting the help you need when you need it.

Julie Weldon
Julie Weldon is on the leadership team of 321GoProject and is the creator and host of GSD Entrepreneur podcast. Her diverse background includes being a cake designer, coaching basketball, traveling to 13 different developing countries to do volunteer work on a year long trip, working in the not-for-profit world for 10 years, starting two businesses, working as a People & Change consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, taking a product to market (and “failing”, only to get back up and do it a second time), and working as a business coach/consultant to small businesses with her company, A Salty Rim. Her core belief is that it’s always about the people no matter if the company is large or small. Contact her at julie@321goproject.com.