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ePublication of Australian Fitness Network

When all around us is falling apart, it can be too easy to blame everyone and everything else for our problems. Creating a healthy environment for success, however, begins with creating a healthy and balanced life, says Anthony Spark.

Sometimes we get caught in a rut. Enquiries are down, our team is apathetic, results don’t come easily and everything seems like hard work. As an industry, though, we’re a pretty optimistic bunch, and as club managers and owners we can generally motivate ourselves through tough times and tell ourselves to ‘harden up.’

So, we put our noses down and work harder and longer, putting more stress on ourselves and those around us. We get through the rough patch, but it’s an exhausting way of dealing with things, and if it becomes a recurrent pattern it can lead to burnout, both for ourselves and for our team.

From burnout…

Burnout comes in many forms. Physical burnout often leads to an increase in sickness and a decrease in our own training – that is, ceasing to practise what we preach. This, in turn, can manifest itself as an increase in absenteeism for ourselves and our staff.

Mental burnout can lead us to question whether we are suitable for this type of work. We question if we have the right people on our team and often start picking on minor faults of our staff.

Emotional burnout leads to sacrificing important relationships in order to get the job done. Our industry already battles with high turnover of great staff – we don’t need to add to it by alienating more staff because of our own problems.

Spiritual burnout, meanwhile, can turn our life from a joyous existence to …just existing.

…to firing on all cyclinders!

There are other times, of course, when we’re in ‘flow’. Everything is just working out, and things falling into place almost effortlessly. We hit sales targets, and staff and members are happy. Physically, we feel great, we are mentally stimulated, we are engaged in strong relationships and life feels good.

How good would it be to capture the secret to this state of being so we can consciously recreate it all the time? Last week I had more reason than usual to pose this question to myself when I got sick and found myself completely wiped out for 24 hours. As I lay in bed, all day, pondering my complete lack of productivity I realised why I was sick. For the week prior I had created an environment that gave my body no other option than to ‘tap out’ for a day. I had deprived myself of sleep, overtrained, eaten poorly, drunk too much alcohol and had too much stress at work. Looking back on it, I could see that I’d created a recipe for disaster – and my body responded accordingly.

Given this hindsight, I started making a list of the simple things that I could do to engender an environment for success, ensuring that I not only avoid illness, but thrive.

The first thing that came into my mind was to draw inspiration from the success of others. I firmly believe that reading (or listening to) autobiographies is an excellent way of understanding how great people go about creating environments for success. The only drawback is that other people’s experiences are precisely that – other people’s. Wouldn’t it make more sense to understand what makes us tick as individuals?

With this objective I compiled a list of behaviors – some common sense, others more particular to me – that I believe will help me avoid burnout and put me in the best frame of mind for ongoing success.

  • Sleep
  • Eat well
  • Lift heavy
  • Do some endurance training
  • Have a good laugh at least once a day
  • Regularly address how I’m spending my work focus, and consider engaging a coach
  • Drink no more than three coffees per day, and ideally only one
  • Go to the beach
  • Be present with members, staff, friends and loved ones
  • Spend time with my wife and schedule a ‘date day’ each week
  • Unsubscribe from email lists I delete anyway
  • Walk barefoot
  • Acknowledge key people
  • Don’t read/watch/listen to the news
  • Don’t drink cheap wine
  • Limit social media
  • Limit TV
  • Manage self-talk (yes, we all talk to ourselves)
  • Say ‘no’ to things not really important to me
  • Don’t try to do too much – I’m not Superman
  • Have a long hard look at who’s on my team, who needs to be taken off the team and who needs to be added
  • Spend some time in the garden each week
  • Learn something new each day
  • Always have a holiday booked
  • Get out of my comfort zone weekly.

This is my personal recipe for creating an environment for success. Take from it whatever resonates with you, and then add to it to create your own. Your list may lead to better sales, better retention, a happier team and stronger leadership. I found it to be a useful and therapeutic process and I encourage anyone wanting a better life to do the same. Enjoy the process.

Anthony Spark
Anthony has 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry, with roles ranging from gym instructor and group fitness instructor to sales and management. Currently Anthony is the CEO of WYN Training, a Melbourne-based Registered Training Organisation specialising in producing personal trainers with long term careers. His personal philosophy is to ‘get people moving’.

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