We know, we know. How could staying healthy possibly be difficult when your average day is so focused on physical fitness? And isn’t health insurance for personal trainers kind of overkill?
In reality, any career path that relies so much on your body’s health comes with risks. While you’re busy attending to the needs of your clients, your own health can fall by the wayside.
Whether you’re an experienced trainer or you’ve just started a new side hustle, here are three obstacles that keep trainers from feeling their best — and how you can get around them to stay healthy, in and out of the gym.
1. An Uncertain Schedule
Personal trainers rarely have the same schedule week to week. That can make being consistent about your health a struggle. As you see clients, remember to:
- Take your own health advice. It’s easy to tell other people to prioritize fitness, especially when you know they regularly have a chance to do it. But some of the advice you probably give your clients when they’re having trouble making time for their health applies just as much to you. Take meal prepping. You might have suggested it to others, but have you tried it yourself? If most of your meals have come in to-go form recently (that includes smoothies from the gym snack bar!), then you might want to try it out. Remember that you’re not immune to the same barriers to wellness your clients face, and that the tips they take away from your sessions can be just as beneficial to you.
- Be proactive about your workouts. When you work in fitness, most people think that you’ll be working out all day. That’s not usually the case. Planning and overseeing clients’ workouts leaves less time for pumping iron than most trainers would like. You don’t want to overexert yourself in your downtime, but it’s important to maintain a good fitness routine for yourself. Schedule a time during the day to exercise, just as you would schedule a client, and stick with it. Add it to your professional calendar so you don’t accidentally double-book the time. You should also keep up with your annual visits to your primary care physician to catch health issues before they become worse — and expensive to treat.
2. Lack of Health Insurance Coverage
You never know when you’re about to strain a muscle helping a client with an exercise or set your foot down in an inconvenient spot right as someone drops a heavy kettlebell. Having the right health insurance for personal trainers is one of the best ways to combat the physical challenges of the job. Depending on your situation and needs, consider enrolling in:
- Major medical insurance. If you’re a part-time contractor without another full-time gig that offers employer-provided medical insurance, plan to shop for a policy on your own. Read the fine print to make sure it covers what you need it to, and take advantage of the preventive care services that come free with it.
- Supplemental coverage. When it comes to on-the-job injuries, your employment status might entitle you to workers’ compensation. If it doesn’t, look at a supplemental accident insurance plan or a disability policy. They offer payouts that could help cover some of the costs of medical care or make up for missed wages if you have to take a break from work.
3. Long-Term Stress
The work of an athletic trainer can have a profound impact on mental health: Keeping your cool through life’s challenges while dealing with a variable income, an unstable routine and the regular risks of the job is a tall order. Commit to making your mind a positive, habitable place in the long run by:
- Performing mental check-ins. Keeping an active eye on your mental state helps you better understand yourself and, importantly, recognize when it’s time to seek outside help. In between check-ins, keep up with basic mental and emotional upkeep by getting enough sleep and practicing mindfulness.
- Protecting your livelihood. The risk of legal trouble in the case something goes wrong during an appointment is a major source of stress for personal trainers. Invest in peace of mind and check your liability insurance options to find a plan that covers a wide variety of issues clients may run into while they’re with you at the gym. It’s one less thing to stress about when life gets complicated.
People come to you for help with many things — with accountability, with technique, with making health attainable. It can be hard to admit that your body and mind need some TLC as well. But it’s best to face up to it: Your own health deserves to be a priority for you, even if you didn’t pay for the privilege. Think of it as the friends and family discount.