Biz Tips

Work-Life Balance for Gym Owners
By Shari Medini, Gymnast Mindset

Business owners’ lives tend to revolve around their business, but gymnastics club owners tend to take this dedication to a whole new level! Gym owners are often involved in all areas of their business - you are there whether it’s a new Mommy & Me student signing up or a college recruiters coming for a visit. Your attention, your time, and your energy is pulled in many different directions on a daily basis.

This type of multitasking is sometimes necessary in the short-term. Getting a new gym off the ground or taking over a new ownership role requires you to be involved and available around the clock. However, this shouldn’t be the long-term business plan.

Businesses succeed when the people at the top focus on their own natural strengths and hire others to handle the rest. This is true in the corporate world, and it is true in the world of gymnastics. Building a great team around you is not only integral to the health of your business, but it is crucial to your own personal health as well.

Consequences of Not Establishing Work-Life Balance
Every gym owner deserves a fulfilling life in and out of the gym.
Not only do they deserve it, but the alternative has significant consequences.

Gym owners go above and beyond for their gym, which is a wonderful thing! Owning your own gym is a dream for many that have been involved in the sport throughout their lives, and it can be an incredible experience! However, it is this passion that can often lead gym owners to the point where they feel completely burnt out.

Without any semblance of work-life balance, gym owners begin to struggle with various difficulties like health issues, strained relationships, feeling ineffective, fatigue, anger, cynicism, poor performance, isolation, and others.

The effects of these difficulties do not only make your day to day life less enjoyable, but they also impact those around you. Stress and negativity is very contagious to those around you. Your family, your staff, and even the athletes may also be struggling; and it is your responsibility to take the lead and make gradual changes.

How to Improve Your Work-Life Balance
Reflect and Assess
You will not be able to work on improving your work-life balance until you take the time to reflect on your current struggles. Carve out a little bit of time, take a step back, and objectively evaluate the situation that you’re in.

Write down on paper the amount of hours that you spend in the gym and the hours that you spend focused on gymnastics related work. Then write down how many hours you spend focused on your personal life - family, hobbies, or simply watching TV.

You can also ask for feedback from those around you who are not involved in the sport. Ask other business owners how many hours they work on a weekly basis. Ask them about what they do in their free. Ask them their thoughts on work-life balance.

Once you look at the black and white time commitment aspect of your job, it is also important to reflect on the emotional and physical tolls that it may be taking on you. Do you love spending most of your time in the gym, or are you starting to become resentful that you don’t have a life outside of those walls? Are you feeling connected with your family, or are they feeling increasingly distant? Are you feeling inspired with new ideas and strategies to help your gymnasts, or do you feel like you’re stuck in a hamster wheel?

Gymnastics can be an all-consuming sport so it is important to separate every once in a while and gain some perspective on how much and how hard you are truly working.

Gain Perspective
The sport of gymnastics requires dedication from everyone involved - gymnasts, parents, coaches, and of course, gym owners. The demands of the sport make it easy to get sucked into the daily grind and lose sight of the bigger picture. The reality is that you are only human, and as a human it is important to take the time to care for ourselves physically and mentally so that we can continue to do what we love.

It is important to take that long-term view to prevent yourself from reaching the point of burn out. Gymnasts’ careers are relatively short. They train hard for 10-15 years, & then they move on; but gym owners have dedicated their lives to this sport! They see gymnasts come and go every single year, but their own workload stays the same. And if they are not managing that long-term reality, burn out becomes a very real setback.

Artists and innovators gain inspiration from the world around them. New ideas are formed with exposure to a variety of experiences. Industry advancements occur when businesses and individuals step outside of their comfort zones and gain insight from other industries. Inspiration, ideas, and excitement can come from unexpected places; and it can often renew passion for your work.

Which is why it is so important for gym owners to work on their own work-life balance. They may gain insight or ideas for their business in unexpected places. They may renew their love for the sport by seeing it through a different lens. They may learn from others both within the sport of gymnastics and outside of it. Challenge yourself to experience the world outside of your gym on a regular basis.

Don’t forget the positives! Owning a gymnastics club can be an incredible experience, and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of what makes this opportunity so amazing. What do you love the most about the sport itself? What do you love most about running a gym? What are the benefits of owning a gym rather than working at a traditional 9-5 job? Take the time to write down a list of all of the positive things about being a gym owner, and be sure to pull it out as a reminder whenever you are having a particular tough day.

Make Small Changes
Work-life balance doesn’t mean taking fancy vacations, or letting go of everything that has gotten you to this point. Small changes in your daily and weekly routines can have a surprisingly positive impact on your overall experience. Start small and build from there - just like you create a strong base of fundamentals for your gymnasts.

Start establishing small boundaries. Make your own time a priority and have dedicated hours where you are truly off the clock. If you have children, they will become closer to you if they know that they can trust to have your full attention at certain times throughout the week. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but even carving out 30 minutes to do a fun activity with your kids each day can make a world of difference to them.

Give those around you a chance to step up. If your staff is used to coming to you with every small problem, it can feel like the entire gym can’t function without you. Oftentimes the best approach to changing this is simply being unavailable and forcing your staff to solve some of their own problems. If something big comes up, you will hear about it - no doubt! But taking a step back often empowers those around you and gives you the freedom to focus on moving your business forward.

Be purposeful about making these small changes happen. I think you will be surprised to find that things keep functioning just fine (if not better) when you take small, gradual steps back. You will need to gradually train those around you into realizing that you are not a machine who is available 24/7.

Positive Impacts on Yourself and Others
As you work on improving your own work-life balance, you will begin to see a ripple effect in those around you…

Friends and Family
Relationships with friends and family will feel less strained. You will have more time to reconnect with them, and they will become more supportive when they feel like they are being seen and heard.

Staff
As the owner of the gymnastics club, you are in a unique position of leadership to young people all day, every day. Your staff looks to you as an example, coaches look to you, the parents look to you, and even the gymnasts take notice. Making efforts to establish a healthy work-life balance for yourself will show those around you that strong leaders have boundaries, can delegate, and can enjoy what they do!

Coaches
While you may receive some pushback and hear frustration from fellow coaches initially, there is a good chance that they will follow in your footsteps. What coach doesn’t want a more relaxed, more fulfilling work-life balance? They will appreciate that you see them as well-rounded people too, and they will be able to pass these positive approaches along to their gymnasts as well.

Gymnasts
Forming successful, yet well-rounded gymnasts that will go on to lead successful lives out of the gym as well should always be the goal. And your efforts towards a better work-life balance will serve as a great example for them.

Of course, there is no such thing as perfect work-life balance. There will be times where your personal life takes a backseat to the rigors of the sport, but it is then your responsibility to make up for that deficit when you can. And regardless of how demanding your job becomes, you can still make a purposeful effort to make those small changes towards improving your work-life balance.
Do it for you. Do it for your family. Do it for your gym.



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