Many personal trainers and group fitness trainers have reached out to me, saying that they know that they need to take time off from working (and working out!) so much, but they simply can't do it, because fitness is their job and their income. So, what are your options? How can you still put your health first?
I absolutely understand what you mean! There are many arguments against taking the leap and reducing your work and workout load, to take care of your health:
- Giving up classes means that you're losing money.
- Gaining weight, which likely happens as a result of taking a workout break of at least significantly reducing your work load, makes you feel like you shouldn't be doing this job because you don't look the way you're expected to look.
- Even if you don't have financial issues or don't worry about your weight, you don't know what else to do because you've spent your life working out! (click here for some ideas on what to do with your time when you can't work out.)
You Need a Break
But on the other hand, here's the truth: It's incredibly hard to recover from overtraining and excessive stress if you don't reduce your work load and give your body as much rest as possible. Things are serious if
- You're always tired
- You feel like you never had enough sleep, even if you slept for hours and hours
- You simply can't fall or stay asleep
- Your hair is thinning
- Your nails are breaking
- You're wired but tired
- Your digestion is a mess — most likely, you're constipated
- You have lost your period
- You have no libido
- You're feeling depressed and feel that you can't find the way out.
You need to do something about it, because it's not going to get better just by itself. Repeating the things that you've already done but seen that don't work, isn't smart either.
Here are the things that you can do though, if you want to start recovering from this deep exhaustion. These are the changes I made when I was deep into my overtraining and hypothalamic amenorrhea and needed to recover from both!
6 Ways You Can Rest More as a Fitness Trainer
Stop teaching super early morning classes.
I used to teach classes that started 5:30am. Not every day, but a couple of days a week. However, these few days were enough to mess up my week! I was sleep deprived and exhausted not only the day when I had to get up super early, but also the next few days because I simply couldn't get back to normal routine.
When I decided to start recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea and overtraining, I knew that I had to stop teaching these classes. I was barely sleeping, because my hormones were a mess; I was extra anxious and nervous about possibly not hearing my alarm at 4:40 in the morning so I was always up before my alarm went off.
Possible solution: Ask other trainers, if they could take your early morning class, and see if you could do some of their lunch time or evening classes. Instead of assuming that no one can help, just ask. You never know!
Stop doing high intensity workouts.
Yes, stop them. No HIIT! HIIT can be great if you're super healthy, but it is NOT healthy for you if you're burned out. By pushing yourself hard, you only dig yourself deeper into this hole.
What you really need, is restorative movement, like walking, yoga, some light bodyweight workouts and stretching. You want to do even these only when you feel like you really have energy for them. That means, don't turn something that was supposed to be a leisurely walk, into a uphill power walk 5 times a week 🙂
Skip your workout if your day has already been hard.
Many trainers are walking miles and miles in the gym every day. We're also getting the equipment ready for our clients, demonstrating exercises, putting the stuff away, being on our feet all day long! Yes, we may not have worked out, but we got plenty of movement on that day. To someone else, that would be an entire workout.
Small things add up. There's no need to work out if you already were physically super active all day long. Without any guilt, skip it.
Don't do the workouts with your clients.
If you're teaching bootcamps, for example, you don't have to do the workouts with your group. You will likely have to show them exercises, but the entire workout? No, you don't have to do that!
Things may be different if you're teaching spinning or bodypump classes. where you're required to do the class with your group. Then, don't push yourself hard, and don't take too heavy weights! What's even better, start your own bootcamp, so you don't need to do the workouts with your clients.
Start training clients online.
Taking your business online will take a lot of physical stress off your shoulders. Sure, you may have to create videos for your clients so they know how to do the exercises. But this is just one time task — once the video for squats is created, you don't have to do it again. You can just send your clients to your YouTube where they can find your squat video.
You'll still need to put together programs for your clients, ask for feedback, modify and make changes as needed — just like in regular personal training. But you don't have to do the exercises or even go to the gym, which saves you a lot of energy that you can put towards your recovery.
Eat a ton of food.
If you're physically burned out, one of the main medication, in addition to rest, is eating. CALORIES, you need calories!
Poor sleep, thinning hair, slowed down digestion, and of course, lack of period, are all related to low calorie intake. Your body needs energy to repair itself. There are so many trainers out there doing 3-5 workouts a day, often training with their clients, walking 10+ miles, working out themselves, all that while eating less than 2000 calories a day.
This is a recipe for serious health issues. You need to eat more. Calories are your friend, not enemy!
Finding the way out from over exercising and burnout is probably harder for fitness professionals than it is for most other people. Fitness is our job, it pays the bills, and we simply can't cut it out from our lives completely.
But there are ways to reduce the stress that comes with this job. And it's necessary to do it. Otherwise, you keep spinning your wheels and wondering when do you start feeling better, when does your period come back and will you ever be able to get full night's sleep after which you feel totally rested. It is possible, but you need to make some changes!
If you need support on your journey to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea, my coaching calls are available for you.
This course will tell you exactly what you need to do, in order to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea and take back your health!