Building a business is tough. But building a fitness business…where clients must be trained from 5am-9pm, Monday through Friday (plus Saturday mornings)….well that takes an even greater level of commitment.

Throughout each stage of fitness business growth: getting your first group of clients; hiring your first employee; opening your own facility; developing a team to accomplish a bigger mission…your leadership skills will be tested and forced to develop in order to continue growing.

One of the most important things you must do in order to be an effective leader is to continually work at creating harmony between taking care of yourself while taking care of others (and your business).

Intellectually speaking, this sounds straightforward. And you likely “get it” already because you witness the prolonged effects that high stress levels and poor self-care have on the prospects walking through your door each day. But creating and protecting your personal boundaries to ensure you don’t get pulled into the same downward spiral isn’t easy for anybody!

Own a business long enough and you’re going to face challenges like clients quitting your programs, staff leaving your business at terrible times and financial pressures (from a number of sources) to name just a few of the battles you’ll need to overcome.

And it’s during those times when you’re tested, that you will have the greatest opportunity to grow as a leader.

Here are 13 best practices to ensure you’re able to perform at your best and keep fighting until you’ve won the war.

1. Manage your sleep. Aim for 7 hours, with bare minimum of 6. When you do get it, with 8+ hours you’ll feel like superman (or woman).

2. Start everyday with the S.A.V.E.R.S. Nothing gets your mind right and kick-starts your day with a feeling of personal accomplishment than practicing the S.A.V.E.R.S. S stands for silence or meditation, A stands for affirmations, V stands for Visualization, E stands for exercise, R stands for reading and the final S stands for scribing or journaling. Dedicate 20-60 minutes to use these powerful personal development tools each day.

3. Manage nutrition and stay hydrated. Drink 3+ liters of water per day. Learn what works best for you nutritionally (everyone is different). Track your behavior and review results to continuously optimize over time.

4. Strength Train. Train 3-4 days per week. It doesn’t have to be an hour long session. 20 to 30 minutes can be very effective. You know this already, so ensure you do it.

5. Active recovery.
Yoga. Massage. Foam roll. Get outside for a walk or swim. Use whatever strategies work best for you (and as many as you can incorporate). As a business owner you’re now a corporate athlete. Look after your recovery like one.

6. Block off one day of "no work" each week. Your brain (and body) need rest. Take at least one day each week (even when things seem crazy) to get some R & R. Use this time to “think” (or don’t think), but either way, step away from major project work. Your brain needs a chance to rest and you need time for other things in your life that matter besides work.

7. Know your quarterly priorities. Think strategically, make a plan and then execute. If you find yourself being unproductive, then ask yourself “Am I working from a good plan? Is their solid strategy behind my plan?” If you’re unsure of either, back up to gain more clarity and focus. Then get back to work.

8. Review each week. Take time each week to review progress towards your goals. Reflect on what’s working well, what’s not and decide what’s next.

9. Review each month. Similar to the week, but when you own a business take a least a 2-3 hours each month to perform a complete financial performance review. Analyze what adjustments are needed in order to continue accelerating progress towards your goals (this is where working with a coach can help greatly).

10. Establish your communication rhythm. There is nothing more important than communication with your team as you grow. A 15-30 minute daily huddle and 60-90 minute weekly team meeting must become sacred time. The faster you’re moving, and the more people you’ve got in your organization, the more critical communication becomes in order to stay efficient in moving the ball down the field.

11. Invest heavily in recruiting, hiring, team development. In order to invest more time working on strategy, leadership and higher-level project work (which is the only way your business will continue growing over time) then you’ve got to find, hire and develop great people. And once you churn through a couple bad employees, you’ll quickly learn that it’s much more sensible to invest time and resources into getting the right people on the bus. The wrong people on the bus can (and will) kill you.

12. Fire fast. When it comes to underperforming or dishonest staff that don’t align with your core values, you get what you tolerate. There’s no room for B players on an A team.

13. Grow your network of mentors, coaches, and friends. Continue growing your network of mentors, friends and colleagues. They will play an incredible role in your journey ahead. And find a great coach. You and your goals are worth it. Remember, it’s not what you know but who you know that will open life’s biggest doors.

BONUS: Calendar management is everything. Take time to build a template for your perfect week, put the big rocks in first (sleep, self care) and then everything else to follow. Don’t worry about getting everything done. Getting the important things done is what matters most. Once you’ve got a template, review effectiveness with it each week and continue to refine. Managing the week is where you’ll find the biggest bang for your buck.

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