Maintaining Balance During the Holidays

The best way to combat holiday stress is to slow down, be present in the moment and to enjoy your work.

"Well, here we go, into the holidays. Attendance is dwindling in my group exercise classes, and my personal training clients are all calling in sick or busy. I guess this happens every year - why am I surprised? I feel like people don't care about their fitness programs, and that what I am doing is not a priority in their lives. And I'm stressed out and busy, too! Any ideas for pumping up my sagging holiday spirit?" Fitness professionals learn that fitness center usage tends to go down during the holiday season. Too much to do in too little time means something has to go and, unfortunately, for many clients, that something is self-care. They sleep less, don't eat as well and skip their workouts. While you should continue to counsel against an unbalanced lifestyle, don't take it personally that more clients seem to drop out this time of year. And, don't let the holiday rush give you an excuse to emotionally check out! More than ever, your clients look to you and their exercise programs for positive energy, and a chance to revive their tired spirits. The best way to combat holiday stress is to slow down, be present in the moment and to enjoy your work. After all, you have one of the best jobs in the world, and much to be thankful for. Nurturing positive connections with your clients at this challenging time of year can enhance exercise adherence and give you positive energy in your life and in your work.

The power of positive emotions

Stress is one of the most common reasons people drop out of their exercise programs, go "off" their diets, or start smoking or drinking again. Stress feels bad, and feeling bad moves people to try to feel better, or to at least avoid things that might make them feel worse. If you think going to your exercise class will make you feel worse, why would you go, when you are already feeling tired and stressed? But what if exercise made you feel better, and going to the fitness center was a positive experience? Most fitness professionals work hard to make this the case for their clients. We try to be friendly, helpful, enthusiastic and to provide workouts that challenge and energize, which leave clients feeling better than they did when they walked through our doors.

Create positive connections in your work

Most of us go into the fitness industry because we love working with people. But connecting with clients takes energy, lots of energy. I asked successful personal trainers and fitness instructors how they manage to keep their energy up during the holidays. Here is their advice: Exercise regularly. Most fitness professionals find that regular exercise keeps them on an even keel; yet, many fitness professionals admit to having days when they were too busy to exercise. These days help you to relate to your clients! Even an abbreviated workout, especially at a high intensity, is helpful. Manage your time and set priorities. Some fitness professionals try to slow down and do less. It would be wise to re-examine your budget during the holidays, and put the brakes on excess in every area: eating, gift giving, traveling, parties, etc. It also helps to focus on meaningful holiday traditions as much as possible. Connect with your clients. Your clients need connection the most when they are frazzled. Helping them helps you, because helping feels good and nourishes your holiday spirit. Fitness professionals often have a few clients who need extra cheering up over the holidays, and it feels good to reach out to those feeling blue and depressed. Allow yourself to feel good about all of the good you do. Volunteer for community service. Many fitness professionals enjoy special activities that their fitness centers organize to help those in need - food drives, donating time to special causes, etc. Your clients like to see your fitness center reaching out to your community.

Talk to clients about the importance of balance and self-care

Preaching the value of self-care and healthy lifestyle reminds us of its importance, and to work toward balance in our own lives. It will also help your clients remember to use exercise (and come to your classes or personal training sessions) to manage holiday stress.
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