The Symptoms of Gym Owner Burnout and the Prescription for the Cure

You walk into your gym and what used to be your “happy place” isn’t feeling all that happy. 

You avoid eye contact because you’re not feeling social. You force a smile to anyone you do see, but you’re really thinking about the million things you need to get done.

When you do sit down to check things off the list, you’re not sure where to start and everything seems so difficult. 

You just feel tired…and when you do finally try to get some sleep, the constant whirring thoughts of pressures and stress give you pangs of adrenaline that spike you awake. 

This is overwhelm: the feeling of too much to do, not enough time. 

If you spend enough time in overwhelm, it’s just a matter of time until you BURNOUT. 

Every entrepreneur, gym owner, small-business person has and will experience crazy, chaotic days. That’s just part of the job, but If they start to become common, it is time to make changes for the better, otherwise it can be a downward spiral.

As the issues, challenges and stress mount, mental & emotional capacity decrease. The effectiveness of your leadership diminishes, your members and staff feel the negative energy and start to leave because of it… which only makes things worse.

More than any other single factor, financial challenge is the biggest source of stress for a gym owner… not gaining enough people, losing too many people.  

But don’t worry, this is common, and there is hope.

The first thing to do:

Recognize you are not alone, and that if other people have been able to “figure it out” so can  you. The truth is, the best gym owners have ALL gone through this phase. It’s part of the process & journey. Pain and discomfort bring growth… challenges are designed by life FOR YOU. No matter what happens from this point forward, with the right mindset you will grow better for it. 

This might seem like cheesy motivational talk, but reflecting on this, and then having gratitude for what is GOOD in your life, can give you a powerful perspective and put you into a stronger state of mind. If you’re mindset is f**ked, you are f**ked.

The next thing to do:

Take a step back and reassess your mission, your purpose and goals. No one opens a gym so they can spend their days cleaning the gym and doing menial tasks. But you can’t know everything that is involved with running a gym before you start one. Even after years of operation, you may still find it difficult to gain traction. 

That said, if your fire for fitness and helping others is still burning and just needs some fuel to burn through the wet blanket of business challenges... here are some ideas that can help:

Focus on high priority, money making activities - to make money, you need a compelling offer that trades money for value. Most gyms don’t have a compelling offer, or a REASON for people to give you money, or ENGAGE with your business. This is primary. Once you have that compelling offer, you need to make it seamless and ridiculously easy to take advantage of the offer. 

An offer can be to current clients, past clients, or new prospects. But this is where a large portion of your time should be spent if you’re stressed financially. 

Master COPE fundamentals - A good COPE System replaces overwhelm with clarity and organization – it is an algorithm, a system, that helps you deal with the chaos of business and life.  There are 4 COPE disciplines that you have to have in place to win this game: Capture, Organize, Plan, Engage. We have free blogs and podcasts to help teach you the fundamentals. 

Sharpen the saw - If you are feverishly sawing the log with a dull blade, take the time you need to sharpen it. Workout and recover the mind as well as you do the body. You’ll be in a better mental place to deal with the challenges and achieve exponential results. You know all the methods: adequate time off, proper sleep, meditation, nutrition, etc. Prioritize them so you can have more energy, and be an example.

Hire a business coach/mentor - You know the value of a coach in fitness, the same holds true for business. Learn from those that have been there. We recommend Two Brain Business as a source of incredible knowledge and business acceleration in the gym industry. If you’re not ready to embark on a formal relationship, consider simply engaging with the amazing content Two Brain puts out. Keep in mind, the more you invest in a relationship like this, the more you stand to get out of it. 

Reconnect with your “why” - Review your vision & purpose statement (or write one if you haven't). Keep the focus of building your community by creating and cultivating incredible experiences to your members. In other words, the reason you got started in the first place and what drives you to get better.

Utilize existing tools and systems - There are tons of software and service options to cut down on time sucks that take away from what makes you and your members happy. As an example: ChalkitPro. This platform is incredible, and can streamline many aspects of your gym business. 

The “ALL OF THE ABOVE” option - Level Method is known for its incredible impact on positive member experience and helping gym owners see and feel their “why” every day... Our system comes with tools and software to help with many aspects of the gym business, like like on-boarding members, training coaches, workout programming, supplementary programs, marketing, and more. It also comes with a vast network of support system including other gym owners, top coaches, and some of the best business minds in the industry. With that said, it will take work to implement and execute, as ALL things take work. To learn more, check out this page.

Experiencing overwhelm, stress, burnout, can mark the beginning of a new phase of gym ownership mastery. But just like those who have gone before you, it is possible to have success… you just have to take the right actions, in the right order, and you will be able to do it too.