Last week’s announcements across the UK have had an impact on everyone here and I’m sure many of you further afield have been facing similar announcements. Even knowing life wasn’t going to flip back to normal anytime soon, hearing the 6 month timescale out loud caused a collective shoulder slump.
In this article I’m going to look at 3 main areas with tips on how you can tackle the road ahead and come through the other side.
1) You need to look after yourself too.
I’ll move on to more business specific advice shortly but first up I want you to focus on yourself for a bit. A lot of trainers I’ve spoken to are struggling in ways they aren’t used to and are seeing it as a sign of come kind of failure. Whilst it is important to keep going, it should not be at the expense of self care.
It’s not surprising if you are tired, struggling to move things forward, feeling like you are constantly “on it”, not being as productive as you’d like or generally drained. There has been a constant stream of uncertainty and stress for months from a business point of view and that’s before you add in anything relating to your personal circumstances.
Regardless of how you normally manage things, you’ve not been in this particular situation before so it stands to reason that you might need to look at some new approaches. You may also need to look at replacement options when it comes to the activities that you use to rejuvinate and embrace new things in the place of options that are currently off the table.
So what can you do?
Have A Break: You are still allowed time off and should have time off! Take the time you need to decompress and the space you need to be able to replenish your energy levels. If you find it difficult to just chill then book in some activities that give you the break from work that you need but leave you feeling refreshed.
Pace Yourself: This could be prioritising tasks, managing your diary differently, booking in time for things you know will top up your physical and emotional reserves or saying no a bit more. A lot of trainers are running themselves into the ground and not always with anything productive. Whatever your situation there are options that will help you manage your reserves so that you can maintain a great service for your clients and still have the time you need for you. By cutting back, being more defined about when you are working and taking the time for yourself you will probably find you are more productive when you are working and you’ll certainly be able to provide a better service to your clients.
Self Care: All the things you say to your clients also apply to you. Sleep, good nutrition, hydration, movement and keeping stress levels under control are essentials for all. You may find that your previous routines and methods for looking after yourself aren’t working. If that’s the case, start experimenting! LTB Members can check out the webinars on “Self Care and Wellbeing Practices” and “The Power of Sleep” for practical tips. There are endless options for focusing on your wellbeing but here are a few ideas: gratitude journal, meditation, dancing round the house to a fab playlist, switching up your training programme, getting out in nature, doing something nice for someone else, a good book, make a nice meal, spend time with friends, family and / or pets.
Tackle Issues: If things are stuck in your head they pull you down and drain your energy. Face them, explore options and deal with them. Take action and stop them from taking over. Writing things down or chatting to someone can help get them organised into a way you can deal with them if you are struggling. Splitting them into what you can control vs what you can’t or coming up with a rough plan in case something you are worried about happens or identifying what trigger will mean you have to do something about a situation can all allow you to park your concerns and move forward.
Focus on what you can control: Whilst you can’t avoid the stuff outside your control, by putting energy into the areas you have influence you can move things forward and get those feelings of competency that can slip away when we are focused on things we can’t do anything about. Create a guide for clients, tidy up a process, run a client challenge or it could be the perfect time to check out an LTB course!
Ask for Help and Use the Resources You Have: Use your support network. Although it can be tempting to retract into yourself when things are tough, often it’s better to embrace the support network you have and increase how you use it. Share your struggles and ask for help, just make sure it’s an appropriate audience.
LTB members may find the addressing self doubt and building confidence webinar useful at this time too. Spending some time reminding yourself of your achievements, why you love what you do and the great feedback you have had can be a great way of helping yourself through tough times.
2) Keep Client Experiences Positive
Keeping clients happy is always a priority and right now is no different. Considering their core concerns and basic psychological needs and how they are being impacted by the current situation will help you. Talking to them about how they feel and what they need and paying attention to body language and behaviours will help you to ensure you are aware when there might be a need to make changes or have a chat about goals or changes to their plan.
Communication is the single biggest area to embrace here. Communicate updates based on every official announcement, even if it’s just to say there’s no change. Use communications to reinforce the benefits of working with you and highlight wins in the context of the current situation. Keep open lines of communication that make it ok for clients to raise questions or request changes.
Keep in touch with how your clients are feeling about things and adapt your sessions and support appropriately. What worked last year, 6 months ago or even last month is not necessarily what clients want or need right now. Make it ok for them to change focus and lower their standards where necessary. Help them recognise their achievements and celebrate wins. Of course if they are happy with how things are then carry on, the key thing is that you keep an awareness of how clients are being impacted by the changing situation and adjust if required.
Don’t make your problems your clients problems. It doesn’t mean you can never share an opinion but they pay you for a service. If you need to download use a friend or family member, even if clients are also friends keep discussions relating to you out of session time.
Set yourself the goal of making client sessions and interactions with you a highlight of their day / week. Things are tough for all right now and everyone is impacted and coping in different ways. If your clients associate you with a positive in their life they’ll want to keep it.
This blog on meeting psychological needs in a changing world is still very relevant too.
3) Ensure External Messages Are Current
Whether you are actively looking for more clients or merely keeping a presence it’s important that you consider how what you are saying comes across in relation to the changing times. There’s a few things to consider here:
Don’t fall back into old patterns and messages on your external communications platforms. Make everything relevant to your target audiences lives as they are now. Use client quotes and highlight the benefits, results, thoughts and feelings relevant to working with you now. These may be different to what they would have highlighted before we’d heard of Covid 19 but they are far more likely to resonate with your audience if they are based in the current circumstances.
Show how you are sticking to the rules. Make sure you use pictures that show you are complying with social distancing, include references to your cleaning routines and how you are avoiding sharing of kit and the other measures you have put in place. Whatever you think of the rules, showing a disregard of them does not suggest you care about your clients and highly likely to be remembered. These don’t have to be the sole focus of your messages but should be confirmed / reinforced appropriately and it is important to make sure there isn’t any confusion about how you are approaching things.
Address the concerns of the people you are aiming for. Anyone who has no concerns about returning to the gym is probably already back. Some can’t return for reason specific to their situation, if you have other services that they can access make sure they know about them. Some have concerns about safety, cleanliness and interactions with people they don’t know, show these people how safe it is to train with you and use client voices to deliver and support the message as much as possible.
Finally, some people have fallen into a a bit of a slump, relying on coping mechanisms and retracting into themselves, they need more of a nudge to get started than normal. Highlighting that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, the benefits current clients are experiencing relating to a variety of goals (weight / size changes and things like mental health, support and community), how small changes can help and giving them easily achievable stepping stones can help attract this group. Again using client quotes and input from others who had put off starting has more impact than you telling them what they should do.
Take the time to review what you are putting out. It’s never been harder to tell the difference between a comment someone is making in an attempt at humour and a comment someone is seriously making when it comes to Covid 19 related commentary. Don’t leave your audience in any doubt if you are joking and make sure that the “joke” is audience appropriate not just an outlet for your frustrations.
Pause, reflect and move on
There are a lot of unknowns right now but one thing is for sure, we are in for a lot more announcements and weeks like last week. Unfortunately the format tends to mean a week of stress and uncertainty as there is the anticipation of the announcement, the announcement itself then the wait for the detail, interpretation and confirmation. With this in mind it’s worth working out how you manage these times. Allow yourself the space you need to process and adapt then come up with your plan, take action and move forward. Revisit the areas in this blog as often as you need to and prioritise what you need to in order to look after yourself and those who are important to you.
If you are an LTB member and struggling right now then I’d love to help you so feel free to drop me (Claire) a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can chat about your situation.