How do Gym Owners Recognize, Deal With, and Prevent Fatigue and Burnout?

by | May 15, 2023 | Coaches Corner, Fitness Business Owner | 0 comments

(Last Updated On: March 14, 2024)


Being a fitness business owner is not an easy task. You are constantly thinking bigger and striving to hit goals to move your business forward. On top of that you also have a life outside of your business.  The pileup of (for example) sprinting to the finish to hit your goals while trying to juggle daily personal and family life can feel hard to handle.

It’s tough, but it’s doable. 


Who better to ask than actual certified Fitness Business Coaches?

So we asked a few of our Success Coaches for the strategies and tactics they’re giving our fitness business coaching clients (we call them ‘Coaching Partners’ or ‘CPs’) to find the balance and take care of their mental health. 


What advice do you give for dealing with fatigue and burnout?


Asa: Remember to prioritize and know that your priorities aren’t always just moving the needle forward for the business.  In order to continue the momentum on the professional side it is equally as important to focus on the personal side.  

Take time for yourself, your family, your friends, or whatever/whoever makes you feel happy and secure.  Remember, if you are overworked and burnt out the progress on the business side will become stagnant as well.  Use this down time to just think and really marinate on how your business needs to evolve over the course of the next year to move closer to your long term vision.  What is holding you back?  How can you utilize your strengths to overcome your weaknesses?  And what opportunities could be on the horizon waiting for you to unlock their potential?  

As you consider all this make sure you are documenting your thoughts so that you can bring it back and strategize with your Success Coach on how to use these pieces moving forward!

Pamela: As a business owner it can be easy to over commit. It’s good to get into the practice of learning how to say no, or at the very least evaluate how your time is best spent. Get your important events and tasks into your calendar, then schedule remaining tasks around them. Keep in mind to allow yourself some real down time. 

I’ve seen many social media posts recently about grinding and just getting the work done, that ‘it’s the only/fastest way to succeed.’ 

I couldn’t disagree more. Especially if you have obligations that aren’t part of your business; like family, friends, volunteering, etc. It’s crucial to make time for yourself, to quiet your mind from everything running through it personally and professionally. 

One of my favorite things to do is to step outside (even when it’s cold) and take 40 breaths. I call them calming breaths but it’s a deep inhale through your nose with an exaggerated exhale through your mouth, allowing your shoulders to sink and release any stress that I am carrying. I do 40 so that I can focus on the breathing while counting rather than worrying about a timer going off and disrupting me in the moment. It only takes about 5 minutes and is worth every second!


What signs do you look for in gym owners that indicate they may be struggling with burnout? What should they be looking for themselves?


Asa: Something that resonates with me is when a coaching partner continues to remain on a “hamster-wheel”, meaning things aren’t moving forward for them in the business.  There is a consistent theme of negativity, feeling overwhelmed, and a failure to see past the day to day stressors.

Martin: Lack of action on key responsibilities that move the needle for the business (lead follow up for example). Strong dissatisfaction with the performance of their business. Heavily comparing their business performance to that of their peers (usually in terms of gross revenue or net income). Constantly looking for pivots or other good ideas they could integrate into the business instead of working the plan consistently. Feeling lost regarding their vision/purpose. They express an unhealthy level of negativity, self criticism, feeling isolated, or misunderstood. 

David: I look for signs such as lack of interest in their business, constant negativity, and often decreased sleep or physical performance. Stress and frustration can take a toll on someone and it is infinitely harder to be motivated to take action when feeling run-down or burnt-out.

Madison: Signs like apathy or disinterest in the business; persistent overwhelm experienced from normal business responsibilities; constant exhaustion; and engaging in escapist behaviors like procrastinating or making poor health/life decisions to cope with the stress of the business are strong indicators of business owner burnout. 

Pamela: Forgetting about critical next steps from previous coaching sessions, especially ones that are both agreed upon to execute and/or will have a significant impact on bettering the business. Not having much to report in on the business or the only things to report in on are negative. Visual cues of tiredness, lack of smiles, general change in conversational tone.


How should fitness business owners respond to those signs?


Asa:  There can be a variety of reasons why this might be happening and we need to start paying attention to this and investigate why before the burnout occurs.  This is why we also check in during a coaching session on three key areas, 1. Business, 2. Life, and 3. Health.  As all three play into one another, whether we like to believe it or not.  If one of these areas is suffering it can be a key indicator of potential burnout to come if not addressed.

Luke: Awareness is paramount. Take a moment to recognize it’s happening. Understand the situation and root cause of the problem. Assess your options for mitigating your burnout and choose an action plan that best positions you to succeed. Generally speaking, I recommend not neglecting your personal needs for extended periods of time. I’ve worked with several business owners who struggle to perform if they’re not regularly getting in their workouts, sleeping well, or dealing with stressful relational issues in the business etc. Make sure you’re taking care of you so you can take care of your business and perform optimally. Focus on aligning your efforts with your goals. Surround yourself with people who support you. Prioritize a few things that really move the needle (don’t put more on your plate than you can handle). And remember why you started. *Note – Be mindful of the balance. It’s easy to shift too far in the other direction and start to ignore mission critical elements of the business while justifying it as taking care of yourself. 

David: Business owners need to realize when things aren’t right. In addition to feeling it personally, they might also hear remarks from a spouse, family member, or friend. The first action should be to reach out to their coach and others that can create support and enlist a bit of help. Everybody feels like this from time to time and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Next, they should take small steps towards recovering by finding outlets of enjoyment and delegating tasks as necessary to create a bit of room to breathe. Finally, after clearing their head a bit, it’s time to put a solid action plan in place to not only recover their business performance, but safeguards in place to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.

Madison: Give yourself some grace. Almost every single business owner struggles with burnout at one point or another. The key to overcoming this is in our response–it takes humility and honesty with yourself to recognize the symptoms of burnout and not write off classic symptoms as reasons to grit our teeth and try harder. Sometimes we need to take a breath and reevaluate our course before making any further headway.

Pamela: The hardest part is recognizing that it’s an issue. There’s a mantra in the fitness industry (and I’m sure others as well) about needing to put in the time. This can be taken too far, 12 hour days, 6 days a week is a recipe for disaster on the long haul. Self-care and practice what we preach is the direction we all need to follow, we recommend that our training clients get so much sleep, exercise and recover, eat well, have a hobby, etc. It will seem hard to do, especially if business doesn’t feel like it’s going as you desire but it’s necessary.


What can fitness business owners be doing here and now to prevent burnout from happening down the line?


Asa: Pay attention to a balance between business, life, and health.  If there is a pattern of inconsistency then you will likely suffer in some capacity.  Another key element is remaining in a consistent weekly operating routine, this way you can balance your priorities in life and business on a regular basis.  Lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of a long term vision.  Knowing what you are working towards is key to being able to reverse engineer the annual goals, quarterly goals, and day to day to stay focused on the bigger picture of where this is all headed! 

Luke: Find a balance between your business goals and personal care before you need to find one. Learn to prioritize, communicate, and delegate effectively. Know your vision. 

David: Take a constant pulse of their mental and physical health. Know your limits and setup your schedule accordingly. Just like in fitness, if you feel like you have been over-reaching, take a “deload” week and make note of where your limits are so you can avoid them in the future.

Madison: Be sure to attend to your health and wellness with the same intentionality and priority that you give to preserving the health of your business. This will look different from business owner to business owner, but most people in our industry need to be exercising and eating well to perform their best. You may need a strong, consistent morning routine. You may need strict boundaries with working at home. You may need a weekly date night with your spouse and Thursday evenings off from the gym to attend your child’s sports games. Regardless of what you decide, your ability to avoid burnout will depend on your dedication to managing your mental and emotional bandwidth, honing your stress management skills, and achieving work-life harmony (the two may not be perfectly balanced, but they aren’t in conflict). 

Pamela: Have a good routine and structure, including down times throughout the day and week. Include activities into your life that you enjoy doing outside of work and work related experiences. Be aware of the signs that cause you to feel like burnout could be approaching and watch for those triggers before you’re in full blown burn-out. Decide in advance of the signs what steps you’ll take to move away from the burnout and implement them. It also doesn’t hurt to have a friend in the industry so that you have someone else looking out for you and who you can talk to who understands the demands of a career like yours, just be mindful to not let it have a negative impact on your time actions by always talking about the down side. 


Similar Coaches’ Corner topics:


Have something specific you’d like to hear from our Fitness Business Coaches about?  

You can submit your Needs Assessment here, and we’ll send you an individualized report, or you can talk directly to a coach by scheduling a Strategy Session.

To see more questions and answers from our certified Business Coaches, check out our Ask a certified Fitness Business Coach Guide.

Author: Nick Berry

Nick Berry is an accomplished entrepreneur, CEO, mentor, and author, with a track record which includes founding and leading numerous companies to success since his first venture in 2002. Nick Berry is the Founder and CEO of Fitness Revolution.

A hand drawing an arrow with a businessman on it.


Proven strategies used by over
3,500 fitness entrepreneurs