April 10, 2019

It’s important to be honest about the reality of teacher burnout. Given the type of person attracted to the profession, it’s a more a question of when burnout will occur not if it will. Quite simply, people that want to make a difference in the lives of others are more likely to sacrifice  their own needs to those of others. Case in point.

Imagine the Most Dedicated Teacher

  • She has a waiting list and every week she ends up adding one more hour so that she can fit everybody in. 
  • She is a brilliant teacher and has a great rapport with all of her clients.
  • She is full of energy and is generous with her time.
  • She is a workhorse and folks wonder how she does it.


She likes that perception of her. It validates who she is in her own mind. The demands put on her increase gradually and without even realizing it, she begins reaching a limit in her capacity. 

The signs look like this:

This Teacher Is Now up to 36 Teaching Hours per Week

  • She finds herself teaching the same workouts. 
  • Her cues become more scripted and she stops seeing the body in front of her.
  • Client eccentricities become aggravating instead of interesting.
This teacher is on her way to burnout.

Strategies for preventing burnout, can range from simply being aware of how you are feeling and noticing your irrational beliefs or can be as complex as boundary training, sales training and other continuing education. 

Here Are 6 Ways to Prevent Burnout

The first three options are for awareness and learning and the last three options are for boundary setting and sales training.

Awareness of your own body and how it is feeling.

Taking the time for your own movement.  It is amazing the difference that a body can feel when it follows all of our wonderful advice. Also realize that the movement doesn’t necessarily have to be Pilates.

So, if you find yourself talking to your client about making sure that she is getting vitamin D by spending time outside, take a moment to ask yourself, “when was the last time I was outside?”

If you find yourself asking a client about other kinds of exercise he gets remember to ask yourself, “What kinds of exercise do I get?”

holding yourself accountable first

Are you practicing what you preach? If the answer is no, don't judge yourself, just find time to move.

If it’s a Pilates session that’s wonderful, but after a long day of teaching, maybe a walk is just fine!

Get someone else’s eyes on your own body.

We can feel and master and practice alone, but if there are no eyes watching us move, we will almost always miss something. Look for partner who would recognize the mutual benefit of taking turns watching each other move.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be another Pilates instructor. There are many options including: Fitness Training, Feldenkris, Yoga. 


Keep learning things, both about Pilates and other things.

There is something about new knowledge that is so energizing.

Have you ever taken a continuing education course and realized your love of teaching Pilates all over again?

Everyone should have a teacher that they follow both on the internet and in person courses. Always be looking for new information to teach.

Learn about things that aren’t Pilates as well:

  • Learn more about your hobbies. 
  • Study other movement forms. 
  • Learn to cook.
  • Try baking bread.

Do anything that keeps your mind engaged and watch your satisfaction at work skyrocket!

Practical boundary setting.

There is nothing quite so exhausting as a client that feels like they are sucking your energy. We’ve all felt it, and if you have this particular client, he or she is there to give you the opportunity to learn how to set the boundaries that you need for yourself. There is nothing more important when you are preventing burnout than setting clear boundaries with the difficult clients but also the clients you love.

I always know when I am teaching too much when a challenging client makes me frustrated instead of curious. In these cases, sometimes imagery is the best medicine. I imagine a shield kind of like a hamster ball that keeps their energy from taking mine, and then I practice saying the word no.  -Katrina Hawley


Schedule Clarity.

 If you are working on burnout prevention, set your schedule in stone and don’t vary from it.

 

If you don’t have a session available for someone:

  • Refer them to another teacher in the studio. 
  • Work on moving people to classes.
  • Get your clients to take power over their own sessions.
  • Maybe even encourage them to learn their workout and come more often independently.

Have a Team.

Preventing burnout, requires a team of people. We often find ourselves as business owners doing everything. The marketing, bookkeeping, reception, and everything. You are the experts at Pilates and to avoid burnout you need to find the experts to help you with the other things. 

  • Never let yourself be frustrated with quickbooks. Have a bookkeeper instead.
  • Scheduling services are grand. Better yet, hire an office manager!


Surround yourself with the experts that can help your business be the best so that you have the time to take care of your instrument. Your brilliant brain and generous heart will thank you!

What ideas do you have for preventing burnout?

We'd love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments below.

About the author 

Katrina Hawley

When not teaching clients, other teachers or dance students you will find Katrina playing with her cats Uncle Louis and Sadie Grace, hiking, cooking or listening to political podcasts while playing games on her phone.

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