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ePublication of Australian Fitness Network

By learning to control fear, rather than letting it control you, you can elevate the success of your fitness services, writes business coach Daniel Tolson.

  • Fear is a natural part of life
  • The fear of rejection and criticism is the highest contributing factor to a struggling business
  • Being self-aware is the best way to stop your fear from controlling you
  • Once under control, fear can be a powerful motivator for your business.

Fear is a natural reaction that helps guide us through our day-to-day lives. It stops us from hurting, embarrassing or failing ourselves in all kinds of situations. What stops you from engaging in a PT session without planning a workout for your client? What encourages you to consistently get up at the crack of dawn every day to deliver your outdoor training sessions? Fear does. Fear of letting your clients down, thereby jepoardising the success of your business, is powerful.

Yet, not all the effects of fear are positive. According to Inc Magazine, 43% of business people, including those in the fitness industry (because although you may think of yourself as a PT, you are managing a business), experience fear of all kinds; fear of failure, loss, making mistakes and even fear of success or completion! Did you know that 99% of the adult population have a simultaneous fear of criticism and rejection? These two fears are the cause of self-sabotage and make us settle for results that are far below our real potential.

The dangers of fear

For success in the fitness industry, perseverance and charisma are everything. Clients look for gyms, trainers and associated health and wellbeing professionals, such as nutritionists, who are going to persistently push them towards their goals. Chances are that as a business person in the fitness industry, you are passionate about health and fitness (I certainly hope so!) Your experience with coaches and trainers will have shown you that there is a fine line between uninspiring, too harsh and encouraging. This is why, when I see business owners in the fitness industry who let their fear of rejection or criticism control them, I know that they will be struggling financially.

These fears can cause very capable fitness professionals to get highly anxious about specific clients. It may be because they pay a lot of money, or hold influence in the fitness sector. Whatever the case, this fear of being rejected or criticised can drive you to be an absolute drill sergeant, or on the other end of the spectrum, lenient and uninspiring. This fear is actually a large part of the reason why customers will change to the gym down the road or the PT across the park, rather than sticking with you. Fear of rejection is the top influencer for the lack of growth in your business. It controls your confidence and charisma, whether it’s on the floor as a trainer, at your desk as a manager or in the office counting coin.

These anxieties can cause you to do nothing when you need to take risks, or to fly far under the radar so that you have no hope of success. Studies indicate that 84% of people feel they are underperforming, and this is because they let their fears confuse and restrict them. If you have a fear of criticism or a fear of rejection, then you will never be able to generate enough business to keep your services alive.

How to manage fear

I started a new business in 2016. In order to succeed, just like all business people, I had to learn to sell to survive. By using emotional intelligence techniques, I was able to overcome my own fears and as a result, I acquired more than 1,000 new clients in the first 3 years and now have a global business. Here are my top 3 tips for managing your own fear:

Face it

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ‘Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.’ Fear of failure is often thought to be the single greatest obstacle in business; but is that true? Through facing our own fears, we are able to deal with the largest motivating factor in our lives, and become confident, successful business people. This means asking clients for honest feedback, taking criticism on board and becoming a better fitness practitioner.

Avoid fatigue

The early starts and physically demanding aspects of the fitness industry can cause you to fatigue quickly and this leaves you open to your fears. Be sure to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, without excuse. Make certain that you aren’t only working towards your clients’ health goals, but are also looking after yourself. Eat right, keep fit and escape stress and fear.

Don’t deny

Remember that fear is natural. Denying your fear can be a cause of increased anxiety and stress. Ignoring toxic fear will make you explode at the wrong time. Instead, ask yourself, ‘What is it that I am not facing in my life?’ and then, ‘What is the worst that facing it could do?’ The ability to face your fear head on will mean that it doesn’t negatively affect you.

The benefits to your business

When approached methodically and with a positive attitude, fear is a powerful weapon for any businessperson. Instead of letting the fear of criticism paralyse you, let it motivate you to produce work that is of a higher quality. Fear drives us to be well-prepared, thorough, studious, passionate and compliant. If you don’t let it control you, fear can push your fitness services into a new realm of success.

Daniel Tolson
A business coach specialising in emotional intelligence and strategic planning, Daniel has consulted with thousands of clients. A former Australian champion wakeboarder, he has competed with the world’s top athletes at the extreme games.

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