“What life?” most gym owners are thinking to themselves right now. But honestly this isn’t a joke. While it may seem like the gym is your entire world, your health and wellbeing require you to balance work with a personal life. It isn’t always easy to achieve, but finding that balance is possible. 

What Does Balance Look Like?

The beautiful thing is that balance looks different for each gym owner. It could mean outsourcing the bookkeeping that takes you hours to complete or closing the gym on Sundays or limiting how often you check your email when you’re off the clock. The most important part is that the balance works for you. You should be able to accomplish what you need to at work and also have enough time (and mental capacity) to pursue hobbies, spend time with loved ones, or do anything else you enjoy outside of the gym. 

Why Do You Need a Balanced Life?

For you to be your best self, including being the best gym owner possible, you need to spend time on yourself. Just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you need to help yourself before you can effectively help others. 

Running a gym is a huge part of an owner’s life, but it isn’t the entire picture. People are complex, with several interests and hobbies in addition to their family and work obligations. All of these pieces combine to build a well-rounded and fulfilling life. If you give 100% to the gym at all times, you’re just asking for burnout. 

No matter how much you love owning a gym, there are stresses associated with the field that no one can avoid. Equipment needs maintenance. Members have questions about rates and contracts. Finances always need managing. Even if none of these seem like a big deal to you, all these small occurrences build up over time.

The best way to combat burnout and fatigue is to “fill up your cup” outside of the gym. The cup analogy is frequently used to describe self-care practices. By filling up your “cup” with relaxing and happy experiences, you will be primed to handle the inconvenient or stressful events (things that “drain” your cup. For many people, this is simply doing things that make you happy and are purely for pleasure. 

How To Maintain a Work-Life Balance as a Gym Owner

Once you’ve committed to balancing your work life and your personal life, the next time is coming up with a plan on how to achieve that. Again, this balance will look different for everyone. These are a few methods that gym owners find helpful.

Separation of Work and Personal Time

Multi-tasking is proven to be a less effective method for completing tasks, including blending your work life and your home life. To combat this overlap, create a schedule and stick to it! Determine when you will be at the gym or working on gym-related tasks. Put an end of work time on your calendar. When this time comes, put away your work and focus on yourself. For people with families, this often looks like getting home for dinner and spending time together before bed. 

If giving yourself specific start and end times doesn’t work, you can also just look at your non-negotiables. What events, activities, or tasks in your personal life are so important to you that you refuse to miss them? It could be family dinner every night or your favorite show that airs on Thursday evenings. Figure out what means the most to you and hold yourself to never miss those things. Instead of scheduling out your day specifically, you can just focus on working around your non-negotiable activities. 

Another way to separate your personal and work time is to create a morning and evening routine. This allows you to start and end the day focusing on yourself and what you need. Depending on what you like or are interested in, some suggestions include:

  • Getting outside
  • Taking a bath
  • Reading
  • Meditation
  • Cooking a healthy meal
  • Exercising

Regardless of what you include in your morning or evening routine, the point is to prioritize yourself before and after the gym consumes the majority of your day. These routines are the bookends that hold everything in place. 

One unexpected benefit of effectively separating your work and personal time is that you can be more productive during your work time. Instead of thinking about all the stuff you want or need to do outside of the gym, you’ll have a system in place that allows you the time to do everything you need. Feeling secure in that balance allows you to focus 100% on gym tasks during work time and 100% on work tasks outside of the gym. 

Use Your Work Time Effectively

If your work time is spent procrastinating and spinning your wheels, you won’t feel accomplished enough to enjoy your personal time. You need to be productive to leave work at the gym. To accomplish this, you need to get organized. Utilize a schedule, a to-do list, and team communication to keep all your tasks organized. 

Outsourcing and delegating can also alleviate stress at work while freeing up your time. Tasks like cleaning the gym, programming the workouts, and bookkeeping can all be completed by someone else. Even though you’ll be paying for these services, the time saved is usually worth more than you spend on the task. 

Find Time to Get Away

When fitness businesses are young, they are usually too dependent on the owner to allow you any time for a getaway. Your goal should be to get to the gym to a place where it can run without you. Otherwise, you will never be able to take time off. 

Well-trained staff and established protocols are the two biggest assets in creating a gym that can run without you. When your team doesn’t need to ask you what to do about something, they will not need to reach out to you when you are away from the gym. 

Unplug

When you are on personal time, you should not be worrying about work emails or dealing with calls from employees. When you have protocols in place, your team will be able to handle any situation without needing to check in with you. 

Many gym owners have a separate phone for work. This allows them to truly unplug during their personal time. Employees can still have access to your private number in case of any true emergencies. 

Unplugging is more than just avoiding gym-related communication. It is also recommended to unplug from your personal devices to connect with nature, friends, and family. Whether we like it or not, the overstimulation from constantly looking at screens and being a click away from news and text messages is not beneficial for our mental health. Since part of work-life balance is giving yourself the time and space for self-care and relaxation, consider taking time to unplug from all your devices. 

Follow Your Passions

Remember the feeling of mastering a new skateboard trick when you were a kid? Or maybe it was beating the hardest level on Super Smash Bros? Whatever it was for you, the feeling of working towards a goal and accomplishing it is unmatched. 

For many gym owners, fitness and helping people are passions that brought them to open their businesses. But, what else makes them happy? 

Use your personal time to dive into other things you are passionate about. Get excited about learning or accomplishing new things. It can be anything, as long as it brings you joy.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are a master of signing off of work or you still have a ways to go, maintaining a work-life balance is a constant struggle. It is so easy to get sucked into gym tasks because it is your career, your passion, and your livelihood. Continue to work diligently to separate your work and personal time. You need to allow yourself to relax, take time for self-care, and allow time for all your passions. Your mental health, and connected physical health, will thank you.

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