A Personal Trainer’s Guide To Managing Stress And Anxiety

Written by Nick Screeton, owner of LEP Fitness.

personal trainer anxiety

If you’re a personal trainer who struggles with managing stress and anxiety, don’t worry – you’re not alone. It’s extremely common, and we’ve all been there.

I certainly have, especially when setting up my business ten years ago.

I’ve had lots of ups and downs, struggles and setbacks. But I’m still standing. Most importantly, I’ve learned many of valuable lessons that I’d like to share with you in this article.  

To remind everyone from the outset – stress and anxiety are a part of life. I’m not going to advise you on how to make these feelings disappear, but I’ll give you some tips on how to manage your response based on my experiences. I’ll also, hopefully, give you the tools to help you cope.

This way, you are better equipped to overcome challenges when they happen.

The stresses we encounter as personal trainers

There’s a long list of things that can prove stressful to personal trainers, but here are some common examples:

  • Picking up new clients
  • Cancellations (ten minutes before a session!)
  • Finance-related issues (income vs outgoings)
  • Working on meal plans
  • Working on training plans
  • Article writing (ironically)
  • A forever growing list of work to complete outside of sessions
  • Personal issues (relating to your partner, friends, or family)

Can you relate to any of the above? 

I also forgot to mention the big one… Covid-19. It’s been an extremely challenging year for us personal trainers. 

Give yourself some credit

First of all, I’d like to say well done.

Well done for being here and reading this article. It’s a true testament to your character and shows that you:

  • Want to help yourself feel better
  • Want to improve yourself as a person and trainer
  • Have been resilient enough to make it through a tough year

Learning to manage your own stresses and anxieties has many benefits as a trainer. The two main reasons are:

  1. Your career is more likely to flourish.
  2. By learning to cope yourself, you can teach your clients to do the same.

Remember – your clients also have lots of worries, so by learning to cope with your own, you’ll also be able to help them.

There are lots of benefits to helping your clients manage stress, such as:

  • Better results
  • Client compliance
  • Increased retention rate
  • Improvements in your clients’ mental and physical health
  • Referrals and more business

Taking the above into account, it’s worth learning some coping strategies, don’t you agree? 

With that in mind, I’m going to share with you the four things that have helped me cope with stress over the last ten years of being a personal trainer. I hope these tips can help you too.

4 ways to manage stress and anxiety

1. Write down your stresses and come up with a plan

The first step is to acknowledge what you’re worried about. Write down a list of all the things that unsettle you and keep you wide awake at night. Then write down possible solutions and ways to overcome and cope with them.

Here are some examples of my own struggles and what I did to overcome them:

Problem: clients cancelling last minute.

Solution: I created a cancellation policy whereby clients must give 24 hours’ notice. 

Problem: finding new clients. 

Solution: I learnt about marketing strategies that will help me attract new clients.

Problem: Imposter Syndrome – not feeling like I know enough.

Solution: I read books, attended courses, and spent time on my education. 

Problem: not getting results with clients.

Solution: I hired an experienced coach, completed a 12-week transformation and learnt the skills required to get amazing body transformations. 

Problem: people not paying on time

Solution: I wrote a ‘terms and conditions policy’ which I would get clients to sign before they started training with me. 

2. Complete daily non-negotiable tasks

A non-negotiable task is something that must get done (without question). In my case, it’s things that I know make me feel better, like:

  • Reading every day (one chapter of a book)
  • Meditating (ten minutes per day)
  • Exercise (40 to 60 minutes per day)
  • Walking (20 minutes per day)
  • Eating well (I follow a high-protein diet)

I know that if I do these five things, I feel good about myself and can better cope with daily stresses. 

You need to ask yourself – what are your non-negotiables? 

Take a moment to plan them in the diary and make sure you do them every day.

3. Take a break

Even though I’ve been a personal trainer for ten years, I still work more than 60 hours a week because I love what I do.

But whilst it’s good to hustle and work hard, sometimes you need to relax. I see lots of personal trainers burn out, either by doing too many sessions or not having enough relaxation time away from work.

That’s why I recommend taking at least one full day off work per week and factoring in holidays and weekly breaks throughout the year. 

You need downtime to help with creativity and recharge your batteries. You’ll feel better for it, and so will your body. And guess what? Your business and clients will be better off for it, too.

Overworking and under-relaxing is guaranteed to add fuel to the fire when it comes to stress and anxiety. 

So, how can you relax? There are lots of ways you can do this – here are some of the things I incorporate into my weekly routine:

  • Netflix
  • Reading
  • Baths
  • Walks
  • Puzzles 
  • Computer games
  • Spending time with my two children (playing with toys and having fun) 
  • Gardening

All of the above help me switch off and perform to the best of my ability in my job.

Therefore, it’s worth taking some time and asking yourself what three to five activities you could do each week to relax and take your mind off work. Then factor in some time for them every week.

4. Study mindset and psychology 

I’ve completed over 12,000 sessions as a personal trainer and have read lots of books on fat loss and muscle building.

I don’t read up on these subject matters much anymore. I feel confident that I know what I’m doing. Nowadays, I prefer to learn about psychology and human behaviour more than anything else.

In my opinion, understanding human psychology is what separates a good personal trainer from an amazing personal trainer. An amazing personal trainer will be able to understand and improve their own mindset and help their clients to do the same.

When you do this, your business will flourish, and you’ll be fully booked up in no time. 

I wrote a full article about my favourite books for personal trainers, which you can read here.

Here are some recent books I’ve read that I think you’ll find helpful when it comes to improving your (and your client’s) relationship with stress and anxiety:

  • Titans – Tim Ferris
  • Meditations – Marcus Aurelius 
  • New Earth – Ekhart Toole
  • Managing Oneself – Peter Druker
  • The Alter Ego Affect – Tod Herman 
  • High Performance Habits – Brendon Buchard 
  • Unbeatable Mind – Mark Divine 

Many thanks to Nick for his insights.

Specialist personal trainer insurance from Insure4Sport

Of course, as a personal trainer, one of the stresses you can do without is worrying about losing extortionate sums of money if a client makes a claim against you.

If someone you’re training injured themselves during a session and made a compensation claim against you, then you’d have to pay for your own legal fees if you didn’t have the right insurance to cover you.

What’s more, if the equipment you use to train were stolen, damaged, or goes missing, you’d also have to pay out of your own pocket for repairs or replacements if you didn’t have specialist insurance.

As an Insure4Sport policyholder, Nick understands the importance of having our personal trainer insurance to avoid creating more stress and anxiety than is necessary.

If you’re a personal trainer and need to get covered, follow Nick’s example and get a policy with us. You can find out about our insurance by clicking the link above, or you can get an instant online quote in minutes here.

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