Plan your success, and avoid burnouts! 🔥☠️
If you want 3 simple tools to plan your own success, and minimize the risk of burnout then this post is for you.
From my own experience, and after working with 100’s of trainers, I know for a fact that we compare us self way too much with other trainers’ success instead of focusing on our own success 🤷♂️
Why not enjoy the ride, say 🖕 to not feeling good enough and instead focus on creating a successful, healthy trainer business without the risk of burnouts, stress and anxiety.
My own experience with burnouts
The “I’m invincible”-stage
Ever since I started in the military police back in 2006, I have enjoyed working a lot.
One of the benefits from being an MP (military police officer) was that we had 24 hour shifts. So if you wanted you could really work a lot. I remember I once gladly agreed to a 72 hour shift, so I met in friday monday and got off monday morning.
This actually gave me the right to take time off work for almost two weeks, but instead I just met in again a few days later. So by doing that combined with getting deployed I actually earned around 65k in one year. Not bad when being 21 years at the time, right?
After some years in the Navy, I got really bored. Probably also because I always worked. I always took Christmas and NYE shifts, so people with family could celebrate with family. If I didn’t get the shifts from the military, I took night shifts at a security company instead.
I never felt burnt out, even after years of night shifts – I had no clue what anxiety was and I honestly thought it was just weak people who experienced that stuff…
But a few years later I learnt it the hard way 🙄
The “Work harder, not smarter – I know best”-stage
At age 24 I started University, as I wanted to be self-employed. So I took a programme combining business administration and computer science.
I got my first idea pretty fast, and long-story-short, I started as usual to work my ass off!
I was going all-in… skipping lectures to work on my idea, I didn’t work out, didn’t go on dates, didn’t prioritize family or friends.
My mindset was like “the more I can work and the fewer hours of sleep I need the better” – as this meant I would speed up the chances of success, and I would faster reach my first million $$$.
It was during this business venture I started doing personal training and increased night shifts to almost every weekend as I needed money to pay the expenses developing the startup.
After studying a full-time BSc, while having 2 jobs and a having a start-up with minimum of sleep I after 2 years started feeling pain in my elbows, and I realised I was getting sick pretty often. Often unable to get out of bed for a full day and completely demotivated.
I knew something had to change (but God forbid I realised that it was my work ethic and approach to do business). So instead of changing my habits, I went on a two week vacation – alone. After just one week of sleep and doing nothing than traveling and thinking, I realised I felt so much better, so I thought to myself it had to be my start-up that was draining me.
So I called back home to my co-founders, and told them we had to kill the idea.
And so we did… But before the vacation ended, I already decided that I wanted to pursue another idea. By working as a personal trainer, I found out it was almost impossible to manage your clients through email and spreadsheets. So by being a quiet successful coach with 80 clients, even when working part-time, I realised I would solve my own problems.
And boom… Zenfit was born.
The “I haven’t learnt shit yet. Get ready for a meltdown”-stage
So after killing myself with my previous startup, I pretty much jump into launching Zenfit straight away – with exactly same bad habits.
No structure, just pure brute force as I was used to. No backing down before the mission is accomplished.
I didn’t change my work ethics, and I still didn’t prioritise sleep. And I worked even harder as a coach, as I had to fund the startup 100% myself.
I was now 28, and had just started my Masters degree.
The coaching business was actually going really well. I was growing my revenue every month, and at the end I was charging +$135 / session, and my online coaching clients were steadily increasing as my brand got bigger and I afforded spending more money in paid marketing.
However, it all came at a prize.
At the end of 2019, I finally finished my Master’s degree and once again, I had to go on a MUCH NEEDED vacation as I for once realised that writing my thesis while working so intensely with clients and Zenfit was too much. As Zenfit’s growth in new customers had rapidly grown in 2018 and 2019, as had the expectations from our customers.
When I was off work in the evenings, I was still working. Even when home at my ex girlfriend’s place I went to the restroom just to answer support tickets from Zenfit Trainers and helping out my own online clients without her complaining (even though she probably thought I was texting my mistress out there, as often as I went to ‘use the restroom’ 😑).
As you understand it just became too much.
One day I started feeling dizzy after eating a big delicious ribeye steak (damn it!) and I experienced issues breathing. I got so scared, as this feeling went on for hours.
So I rushed to the hospital expecting the worst.
To my surprise, the Doctors couldn’t see anything while monitoring me.
To my other surprise, these symptoms didn’t disappear. When I was younger, I could just sleep a little longer for a few days, and then everything would be fine.
Now, the pain just came back several times a day. I even woke up at night, panicking, felt like I couldn’t breath. And I was suddenly afraid of falling a sleep thinking I probably wouldn’t wake up again.
As usual, I booked a vacation as a last resort.
But this time, I booked a getaway to Brazil for four weeks, and I was set on getting to the root of my problem(s).
But things were so bad, that even the first 2 weeks of my vacation I barely slept, because I still woke up during the night, panicking. It was first after 2 weeks, I kinda felt like I was sleeping better again.
Luckily after 2-3 month with several melt downs a week, I came back from Brazil with a plan, and structure I have been able to apply, and haven’t felt anything near like before Brazil in a long time.
And now I know which warning signs to listen to in order to avoid any future meltdowns again.
So here’s my two cents after some scary experiences…
My blueprint to mental health, and plan yourself for success
In my experience getting success can be boiled down to a few points. And seen in retrospect definitely be achieved without risking your own health.
First of all you need to create a simple business.
If it’s too complex, then you’re gonna give up when things don’t go your way as it’s too overwhelming to do any necessary changes, or worse – you’re gonna burnout or develop anxiety!
Secondly, you need to stay structured. Not only will structure help you grow faster, and generate more output in less time – it will also help your mental health. If you don’t have structure, you will never feel you’re done working, and your days will soon feel endless 🙈
Lastly, you should outsource whatever task you can. It of course depends on your budget. Some trainers afford hiring a paid marketing agency, a videographer and a sales guy almost same day as we talk with them (mainly because they already earn a good chunk on money from personal training session or bootcamps). Others, need to take it a little more step-by-step.
But the end goal is for you to only having to focus on a few crucial tasks.
That’s also why you hire an accountant – you could probably do most of the book keeping yourself, but it is just not worth your time, compared to recording some new content for paid ads, or selling some more sessions to new clients.
The same is true when investing money in software – just like Zenfitapp.com – as this can reduce your time creating meal plans, charge client payments on a monthly basis – so you can focus on your core service: Being a superb trainer, that helps your clients reach maximum results so your business will grow.
It’s okay not to work ALL THE TIME
Remember to take weekends off. Evenings off too during the week.
But in order to do that, you need to be as efficient as possible.
I know trainers struggle with wasting hours creating meal plans per clients, spending 1 days a month manually checking client payments etc etc.
Use trainer software that helps you generate meal plans and adjustments, so you can spend your time growing your business instead of creating recipes and changing 5 grams of oat meal here and there.
I have made this weekly cheat sheet, so you can see how to put simple tasks in boxes, so you know when you’ve done today’s tasks.
As you see, the tasks listed per day is simple and very easy to comprehend.
By having deadlines such as “Live stream every Wednesday at 4pm” you know exactly what to do that day. When the live stream is over, you can call it a day with peace in mind.
I have also just recently realised, that by creating a blog post same day as I’m doing my live stream is in perfect synergy, as my blog post will be around same subject as my live stream. So I’m doing double content with almost no additional hours added in my work day. 😎
Usually I was brainstorming a lot on paper before the live stream. Now I use this paper as inspiration for the blog posts, so I can write the blog post while preparing for the live stream. This way, the quality of the live stream also improve, as I have just been writing a lot of content in the blog before going live.
So by having simple tasks for each day, you know that each day will include something crucial, and for most trainers that is content creation. You should create some sort of quality content each week both for organic posts, but also for your paid ads.
This is also why ‘Content Creation’ is listed twice on my illustration above. Content is most often are lagging at the trainers we see have a hard time taking off their business, yet also the main driver for already successful trainers double their client amount in a matter of months!
Outsource what can be outsourced
As mention earlier, by only having a few important tasks you can grow your business faster, and easier than if having 10 daily tasks every single day! Too many tasks if counterproductive AF!
So one of my first suggestions is always to get a social media agency to handle your paid ads. This will cost you from approx. $500 USD / month. So from just closing one bootcamp client, you actually afford getting your own ads specialist handling all your paid ads, giving you feedback each month on what to improve in your ad content and ideas for new ads that might even converts even better in your initial ad.
So by iterating with a specialist you trust, you will be able to improve your content, price per lead and in the end your cost per acquisition so your trainer business can be an automated conversion machine! 💸
Just make sure this specialist has a portfolio of other businesses (or trainers) he has helped, and ask to see some of the content he or she has created.
I don’t recommend anybody to get a sales guy straight away, that it is crucial to understand what your customers want in order to create content for them that converts.
I was selling subscriptions to Zenfit customers until we reached around $500,000 annual recurring revenue. It was not until I was overwhelmed with dealing with too many sales, that we hired our first full-time sales guy. We actually hired him just before I went to Brazil. And what a timing! I got back home to a calm company, where I got a trusted colleague to give a great first experience of my precious baby.
So it’s important you find a guy that ‘talk the same language’ as you. Don’t find a sales rep that’s gonna scare the customers away before he or she is too pushy. Instead find someone who is listening, understanding, emphatic but of course knows how to sell.
I know many trainers that has +100 clients, that still are doing all sales themselves, because they enjoy getting a personal relationship to the client before starting the work. So you def don’t need to get a sales rep, but when things are getting overwhelming, finding a sales rep to pay 10% commission for each deal isn’t a bad idea at all.
Videographer + photographer:
Getting somebody to record your bloopers, weekly advices and workouts will greatly improve your content. Aaaand, it will force you to prepare content EVERY SINGLE WEEK! If it’s a good videographer, they will make you more relaxed and make you enjoy recording content – and they will be able to use your bloopers and b-roll for some really entertaining content for your followers.
Meal planning, payment processing and much more…
By using one piece of software that can automate as many tasks as possible or at least decrease your admin time is crucial for growth.
At Zenfit we put a pride in building simple software with simple features to (guess what) create a simple business. We are trying to only develop features that help you scale your business, so we leave all the fancy features for other providers. This way we can help other trainers create success by leading the way.
Stick to only one idea
Many trainers try to reinvent the wheel or do drastic business decisions way too fast. If they don’t get enough clients, they try to make competitions and sell plans instead of seeing if there is something broken in their business.
If clients are leaving faster than you can acquire new ones. What about going from 1 month commitment to three month. Then you’re gonna triple your revenue per clients. If you go from 3 to 6 month commitment, you will 6x your revenue per client. Meaning if you acquire 10 new clients each month, you will have 60 clients after 6 months, instead of only 10 clients if you have no commitment period – hope you get the point.
Also, you could try fix your pricing. If you don’t earn enough per client, maybe you need to fix your convertion rate of your landing page, or improve your content in your paid ad, so the ad converts better at a cheaper price. Or maybe you just have a terrible pricing, so by increasing your pricing your business will suddenly make sense.
Sounds simple right? Yes, that because it is simple..
Last simple tricks to improve your mental health
So, beside keeping things in boxes, having simple daily tasks, and trying to outsource as much as possible, I have made these simple things to implement:
- Write things down
By having a small note book with reminders, you’ll easy remember stuff. Seriously, it’s 10x better than using Notes in your phone, and much more satisfying crossing every task done.
- Sleep and recovering
Just like you tell your clients the importance of sleep, you also need to prioritise yourself, and your sleep. We all probably have tried to sacrifice our own sleep to say yes to those 6am clients, but if you are 🦥 the rest of the day, your output will be ZERO! Prioritise your sleep, get shit done throughout normal working hours, and chill in most evenings.I have never been a big sleeper, but not only have my body composition changed drastically after getting those 7-8 hours of daily sleep, but also my anxiety is gone and I’m 10x more productive when being in the office!
- Blue light glasses
Using blue light glasses in the evening has really helped me get tired in the evening. Normally I could stay up until 2-3am easily, now I get tired around 11pm, making it a pleasure waking up 6am for the first time in my life 🤩
- Daily rutines
It’s suits perfectly in my previous section about putting tasks in boxes, but by also having daily rutines outside work helps you getting shit done with no stress adding up. Prioritising my own workouts in the morning, eating lunch the same time every day and having fixed times where to answer emails, creating content, doing live streams makes every day structured and a pleasure doing.
Hope you enjoyed reading my experience with bad planning so you can avoid this yourself.