Episode 128: Stop trying to be a superhero! Avoiding burnout in work and life – with Matt Appleby of Apple Yoga

What happens when you burn out?

How do you take a step back, recover and make sure it doesn’t happen again?

This week Matt Appleby, a yoga teacher and well-being expert, discusses his own personal experience of burnout and how he now helps people avoid and recover from burnout. 

We cover the importance of creating boundaries, the challenges of managing parenthood with your professional life and how people can recover from burnout.

Today’s guest

Matt Appleby of Apple Yoga

Website: Matt Appleby Yoga

LinkedIn: Apple Yoga

Facebook: Yoga for Burnt out Dads

Instagram: Matt Apple Yoga

Matt Appleby is a yoga teacher and wellbeing expert.  In his previous career as an IT professional, spanning over 15 years, he worked for two of the largest employers in the UK, both in the public and private sectors.

Matt discovered yoga 12 years ago and credits his own practice as changing his life.  His unique skill set allows him to blend real-world life experience with spiritual wisdom. 

A big part of Matt’s journey and transition from IT to well-being came after he burnt out in 2016.  It was a huge life lesson that taught him to slow down and fully respect how he spends his time and energy. 

Matt vowed to make big changes to support the new life he wanted to live.  A couple of years later he quit the corporate world for good and hasn’t looked back since.  He now specialises in supporting burnt out dads to lead thriving, fulfilled lives.

Matt is a self-certified yoga nerd, teaching through a lens of ‘big Y yoga’ – taking the philosophy of yoga practice off the mat into everyday life.  He also runs a strength training studio, fit20, helping people to stay strong and healthy in the shortest possible time.  Additionally, Matt is the head of the training academy for fit20 in the UK.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [1:48] How Matt helps dads who are experiencing burnout. 
  • [4:15] How Matt found his passion for yoga. 
  • [6:43] What inspired Matt to do a fully immersive yoga teaching course.
  • [10:27] How Matt realised he needed to make profound changes to his life.
  • [15:14] What burnout looks like.
  • [20:26] Having a conversation with your employer about your need for rest.
  • [23:10] How to manage the workload of studying while working full time and having a family. 
  • [24:31] How much time Matt spent each week on his yoga teaching programme. 
  • [25:34] How to balance work and childcare responsibilities. 
  • [27:30] How being burnt out can encourage you to make changes in your life. 
  • [29:26] How to deal with doubts when starting your own business. 
  • [30:36] Starting a gym business and the power of high-intensity training. 
  • [39:51] How to manage running two businesses at the same time. 
  • [41:13] How Matt hopes his businesses will grow in the future.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.

Episode 128: Stop trying to be a superhero! Avoiding burnout in work and life - with Matt Appleby of Apple Yoga

Jeremy Cline 0:00
When you've got responsibilities, the family, kids, mortgage, not forgetting the job, sometimes it's easy to think that you could just power through it all. Even when you're feeling a bit tired or under the weather, you just feel like you've got to keep on going because people are depending on you, be it work colleagues, clients, your family. But what happens when your body tells you that enough is enough? What happens when you realise that, as much as you'd like to be, you're not superhuman? How do you take a step back, recover, and if necessary, make changes to ensure it doesn't happen again? That's what we're going to talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:56
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. Everyone has different motivations for changing career. Sometimes it's simply that you've become so sick of your job that you want to change. But quite often, there's a trigger, an event in your personal life, which makes you question the way you're currently living. It could be losing your job, the death of a family member, or as was the case with today's guest, a health event. Matt Appleby is a yoga teacher and a well-being expert. Matt also runs a strength training studio. And prior to his career change, he spent 15 years as an IT professional. Matt, welcome to the podcast.

Matt Appleby 1:38
Great to meet you.

Jeremy Cline 1:39
Can you start by introducing yourself and telling us a bit about your business?

Matt Appleby 1:44
Yeah, sure. So, as you've covered briefly there, I teach yoga. I work specifically with men who are dads, who have gone through an experience of burnout or are feeling burnt out. And that's because that was my experience, and my real kind of lead into making that big shift in my career. Around the time that my first son was born, sort of leading up to that, I just found that I was so focused on this huge life event of becoming a father, that I put everything into it and thought I was superhuman and didn't stop. And within sort of six months after he was born, I was completely burnt out.

Jeremy Cline 2:39
What were you doing at that point? What were you doing when your son was born?

Matt Appleby 2:43
So, I was working in IT. That's my background. I worked for a big corporate, one of the biggest players in the UK. Just prior to that, I had a promotion. So, I was kind of into team management, and my remit had expanded and responsibility and all that kind of stuff. So, I was sort of trying to juggle that, juggle all the things that come with becoming a father and a parent first time, obviously, helping out with baby at home, also with my partner, because she was on maternity leave. And also, within a couple of weeks of him being born, I started my very first yoga teacher training programme, because I've sort of fully fallen in love with yoga at that point, and flown myself into that. And I was really grateful that I decided to do that at that time, because it became something for me, one of the things that I experience, and I know a lot of other parents do, and especially dads who I've spoken to. There's a certain amount of, it can feel like a loss of identity when we become parents, because things change, our time becomes more precious, we have much more responsibility, or we certainly feel more responsible. So, that was very much about my own sort of personal spiritual development. And that was a real kind of gift at that time.

Jeremy Cline 4:07
What was it that got you into yoga in the first place?

Matt Appleby 4:11
What got me into it?

Jeremy Cline 4:13
Yes, when you first started practising it.

Matt Appleby 4:15
So, I've been practising for 12 or more years now. I've always been a gym guy from quite a young age, from 16, I joined my first gym, and that had been ever present through my life. And the gym I was going to at the time, 12 odd years ago, they offered classes, group classes. And somebody had spoken to me about yoga, I think it was my partner, she'd said, 'I've been to this yoga class, why don't you come along?' And I was really resistant, but I knew I didn't do enough to kind of recover. I used to run a lot back then and lift a lot of weights and all that kind of stuff, but I didn't take time to stretch. So, I went alone. And funnily enough, my first experience of yoga was one of, I didn't like it. I felt really uncomfortable. I was one of very few men, if not the only man, big klutz, and I would hide at the back of class and wonder why I wasn't as bendy, as stretchy as everybody else, basically, especially the women. And I was very self-conscious, very aware of how I looked and how I moved. But the reason I kept going back was because I felt amazing at the end of class. And over time, I found that I had less inclination to do more of the other stuff, sort of the more traditional things that you associate with a guy going the gym, and I was doing more yoga and things like Pilates and sort of more mindful type exercise and such. And then from there, my interest grew, it was before the time of sort of streaming and things like that, so I got books and DVDs and practiced at home. And prior to my teacher training course, I did like a year's discovery, if you like, of what yoga is. It wasn't a course to be able to learn to teach yoga, but it was like a foundational course, like a lead into that. And I did that the year before my first son was born, and absolutely fell in love with it. I thought yoga was this western exercise routine that was kind of rooted in ancient India, and that's as much as I knew. But that just kind of opened up my mind to what it really was, and I was sort of hooked from that point on.

Jeremy Cline 6:27
You mentioned how you started your teacher training programme just a week or so after your first child was born. So, what was going through your head at that point in terms of the direction of your career?

Matt Appleby 6:43
Yeah, so the decision to take that particular course was that the teacher really sort of resonated with me. And I wanted to do it right, because there are so many paths towards teaching yoga, you can do sort of a short, immersive study for two weeks and be qualified to teach. What I chose as a really thorough three-year course, a diploma course, because I'm a bit of a geek, a bit of an eternal student, and I wanted to sort of fully immerse myself in it. You kind of touched on it on the introduction about health discovery, so although I mentioned about becoming burnt out prior to that, part of my journey was that I discovered that, through sort of traditional medicine, allopathic medicine, over the years prior to, I'm talking sort of eight or nine years ago now, I used to suffer with a lot of respiratory infections, sinus infections, things like that, and I'd seen a number of traditional specialists, so consultants, had quite a lot of surgery on my nose and sinuses. And at one point, I got some kind of alarm bells, because I went back to see a consultant a year after I'd had some surgery on my sinuses, and he said I'll probably have to come back every year for this, as kind of maintenance. And I thought, 'That's not right.' Something woke up inside me. And I did a bit of my own research and, you know, Dr. Google, and I was really fortunate that I discovered a very, what's the word I'm looking for, a really fantastic nutritionist that just made a lot of sense of my situation. So, for the first time in years, I sat down with this person, and he gave me absolute clarity on what happened with my health. So, basically, I had a load of antibiotics and steroids and things like that, and it destroyed my gut health. And everything I was experiencing was to do with that. And no consultant, no GP, no other kind of traditional Western medical specialist had been able to sort of say or give me any inclination as to what was really at the root of the problem. And so, I worked with him and did some kind of deep detox work, and that absolutely transformed my health. And that's always stayed with me. And through my sort of discovery of yoga, I then went on to learn about something called Ayurveda, which is a sister science to yoga, it's another traditional Indian science, if you like, and it's the science of living a long and healthy life. And I, to this day, use the principles of that in how I approach my sort of day-to-day life and what I eat and what I do with my time. And those things all kind of form part of this tapestry of what I've discovered in the past 12 years, since I first got into yoga. And that was really when that shift started to occur, when I started to take better care of my health, think about how I rested, taken a more holistic view of life in general, really.

Jeremy Cline 10:04
And when you started the training, the teacher training, this three-year course, so you were presumably still in the IT job, I mean, did you see this at the time as being part of a transition, or was this just something to deepen your learning of the subject which you had grown to become really interested in?

Matt Appleby 10:26
Yeah, it was a bit of both, actually. It was primarily about deepening my knowledge, but from my experience of burnout that I touched on briefly before, that episode of my life, I had to take six months off of work to sort of fully recover from that, taught me that I needed to make big changes, so it was obviously quite early on into that programme of teacher training, and through what I experienced that, you know, it was ultimately deep fatigue, and my practice and what I teach, really helped me through that. So, I decided, when I did eventually return to work, that making some quite profound changes was what I really needed to do. So, that was 2016. By early 2018, I'd think it was that, I've lost track of years, to be honest, yeah, it was 2018, I then quit the corporate world altogether. I was really fortunate in so much that I had a redundancy from my employer at the time, which I welcomed. It can go one one of two ways with that, but I was really excited about that, because it gave me a sort of an opportunity to delve deeper into what I wanted to do. So, back then in 2018, I had already started teaching. So, on the course that I did my teacher training, we were actively teaching from the second year, so from 2017, I was teaching classes regularly. So, I built up that experience. By 2019 early, I was qualified to teach, but I've built up a couple of years experience while I was doing my teacher training. And in that kind of interim time, between then and now, well, then and middle of last year, I've been sort of working out the direction I want to go with it, and I started by teaching general classes, taught for the studios, taught my own classes in sort of community centres, church halls, that kind of thing, ran workshops, did quite a bit of work with businesses and in the corporate world, which was great and I really enjoyed that. And I felt that that I was giving back a bit of my experience and learning and being able to relate to working in that high pressure, stressful corporate environment as well, and sort of showing that there is another way to do things. And so, I've worked with a lot of businesses and did quite a lot of that during the pandemic, during the lockdowns especially, and that was really rewarding. Middle of last year, I decided I wanted to get really clear on who I helped. And over the last couple of years, I've been involved with quite a lot of work with men, with a men's group. So, I've run yoga events just for men, classes just for men, and I've been involved and continue to be involved in sort of men's gatherings and groups, which has been really important to me, and I got to sort of the middle of last year, when lockdowns and things like that were easing slightly, it was at the end of our long second lockdown in the UK, which I'm sure you'll remember, and I've been teaching online for most of that time. And I found that, at first, I was quite resistant to that, to teach it online, but it actually suited my style of teaching. And I was able to attract in people further afield of my local community. So, I get people coming from other parts of the country, some from overseas, it's fantastic. So, I thought there's something really in this. And in that interim time, I'd stopped working with men, with dads as in teaching them specifically, and really got to thinking who I want to help. Because one of the phrases around marketing goes that, you may have come across this, if you market to everyone, you appeal to no one. But if you're very specific and very niche and very targeted, you can speak directly to those people. So, through my own experience of burnout and all the things that sort of led me to that and the discoveries I made to help me recover, I've put together this very targeted programme for dads that were essentially me six years ago.

Jeremy Cline 14:53
I'd like to, if I may, return to this episode of burnout. So, you are working the corporate job, you've just started the yoga training, and you're now a dad. So, what did burnout look like?

Matt Appleby 15:13
Yeah. What did it look like? So, how it manifested with me was, I touched on briefly earlier, I felt so drawn to all these new responsibilities that I felt like I was superhuman. I was trying to do everything, so was juggling all...

Jeremy Cline 15:30
Did you feel like you were superhuman? Or did you feel like you had to be superhuman?

Matt Appleby 15:33
I felt like I had to be, yeah. Yeah, I definitely wasn't. And I was juggling all the regular responsibilities of life and then added in on top of that being a father and having a baby. And those things just didn't go together. And it started out with something quite innocuous, I got an ear infection, but I simply didn't rest, I didn't allow myself the time to rest and recover. And that perpetuated, I got another, and another. And I became deeply fatigued. And at first, I didn't want to accept that I was feeling that way. I didn't really share that I was feeling that way with people that were close to me, important to me, because I felt this need to carry on and pretend that everything was normal and okay. But my body actually stopped me from doing that, it put the brakes on and said, 'You need to stop.' And I very much had to do that. And until I really sort of accepted that, I didn't then start to properly recover.

Jeremy Cline 15:33
So, what do you mean when you say your body put the brakes on? So, I mean, what was kind of happening that was stopping you from doing all these things?

Matt Appleby 16:42
I guess you could say it manifested in three ways. There was the physical stuff. I felt like my batteries were empty. I was exhausted, I would wake up and feel tired after having slept for the night. There was a lot of emotional stuff going on with being a new father and all the other responsibilities there. My mental health had taken a bit of a decline, because I was just so, so exhausted. I wouldn't call it sort of a depression, but you know, there were things going on there. And I definitely experienced that in the past, prior to that. So, the warning signs were there, in hindsight, but I just didn't take the time to sort of acknowledge them and say, 'Oh, yes, maybe you should do a bit less.' And it's easy to sort of reflect and laugh about it now, but I am grateful that I went through that experience, because it taught me a hell of a lot. In the early days, I mentioned that I ultimately took six months off of work, in the early days, because I worked for a big corporate, I was kind of pushed down the occupational health route and all that stuff, and they tried to return me to work quite quickly, but my body just stopped me from doing that. I couldn't even manage half a day at work without feeling exhausted. I didn't have the mental capacity to do it. I was just empty. So, then I had to go through some kind of more of that process. I was fortunate that, because of the benefits of work, I had private health care, and so I, again, was very fortunate, I saw a really good consultant in general medicine who did loads of tests on me, as you might expect, and said, 'Okay, so this is good news, because a lot of the time I see people with your exact circumstances and symptoms, but I genuinely cannot find anything to say this is why you're feeling that way.' But what he found with me was that I had a virus, called CMV, cytomegalovirus, which is fairly common. If you're familiar with Epstein Barr Virus and glandular fever, it's very similar to that in how it manifests. You may know that glandular fever in adulthood can be quite debilitating, it obviously affects your glands and things like that. CMV is very similar, the way that it works in the body essentially presents the same, and it can be a long road to recovery. And that's exactly what happened with me. And he said, 'I don't know how long it will take you to recover. It may be weeks, it may be months, it maybe years, but you just need rest and take your time.' And that was the advice from sort of traditional Western medicine. So, that was really helpful.

Jeremy Cline 19:31
Can you just tell me about the conversations with your employer around this time? So, when did you speak to your employer and say, 'Look, there's an issue here'? And did it come from having spoken to your GP and having a referral that way, and how did you end up on this occupational health track? And I ask because this is really a difficult area I think for a lot of people, when you've got this kind of thing which, in your mind, seems just so unspecified, I'm feeling tired, I'm feeling down, I can't really put my finger on it, it's not like I've broken my wrist or something. So, tell me a bit more about what leads up to you having the conversation with your employer and how that goes.

Matt Appleby 20:25
It was quite tricky to navigate, actually, because from an HR perspective, from my understanding and experience, it's quite a difficult thing for your manager to kind of navigate, because, I don't know the specifics around it, but when somebody is on kind of long-term sick leave, essentially, there are kind of rules of engagement as to how you can get in touch with the person. So, my line manager was very helpful, given how we were able to interact. And I was fully honest about my situation. Well, that sort of triggered things along the way that said, I can't remember the specifics, but after so many days, you have to have an Occupational Health Review. So, I went off to a city and saw one of their doctors, a consultant that kind of specialised in the things that I was experiencing. And those conversations were really difficult, because I saw sort of a doctor through my work's occupational health scheme on two occasions, the first, though I can't remember what order, a woman told me I would never return to work, the other one told me it could take years. Okay. Which was not encouraging and not what you want to hear when you can have a bit of a mess anyway, they give you all different terms, what tends to happen with these kinds of symptoms, they get sort of badged under these kind of catch-all terms, so it's either chronic fatigue, CFS, it's often known as chronic fatigue syndrome, it can also present as things like fibromyalgia, ME, all these things were kind of mentioned and alluded to, but it was very nonspecific, but the messaging was, it's going to take you a long time to get better.

Jeremy Cline 22:12
So, it sounds like you did pretty well to get back in six months.

Matt Appleby 22:15
Yeah, I think so. That experience has always stayed with me. And ever since then, I've really had to take care in managing my energy and how I kind of put it out in the world and how I kind of restore and revitalise myself. So, I've been very conscious to do that. And that's why I was sort of called and put together this programme for dads who essentially have gone through or going through the same as me.

Jeremy Cline 22:44
When you went back to work, so presumably, you went back full-time, and you resumed your yoga teacher training, as part of which you were teaching yoga as well, given your experience, that sounds like a lot on your plate at the best of times, I mean, how did you manage the working full time while still having the parenthood and doing the course and the teaching on top of that?

Matt Appleby 23:10
Yeah, so I returned to work, I think it was late 2016, from my recall. So, our son was born very early into the January that year, yeah, is that right, and I became ill in the summer. So, I returned to work in December. And it was on a staged return to work programme. So, I did like a phased return, gradually built my hours over six weeks, something like that, and then, eventually, worked full time. So, it was very much around managing, managing, taking time to actively rest. Although I was doing the teacher training programme, I found that to be a great kind of resolve, because it was a pleasant distraction for me. Because I sort of fill myself up by learning and developing my understanding of things and all that kind of stuff. It was a great thing to have at that time. And that's kind of stayed with me since then. So, it was just about being very mindful about how I managed my time, making sure I get adequate rest, listening to my body ultimately, and just taking better care, sort of moving away from that autopilot mode that I was on previously.

Jeremy Cline 24:28
How much time a week was the teacher training taking?

Matt Appleby 24:32
So, we met every month for a day on a weekend. And it was one of those courses where it was really led by you. So, there was the practice element of it, which was a daily thing typically, and then reading around the subject, and I don't remember what the guidelines were at the time, I wouldn't like to kind of say how much time I put into it, but they were on weekends really, I used that as my spare time on weekends, on evenings.

Jeremy Cline 25:07
And how did that all fit in with childcare responsibilities? Because you know, I'm painfully conscious that, when you're working all week, especially if you're in a job where you end up commuting, you're not home until seven o'clock or so, you might get home for bedtime, and then weekends, quite often, that is the time when you are front and centre for the childcare responsibilities. So, how did that work?

Matt Appleby 25:34
Yeah, I became very good with boundaries. So, that was a big part of my commitment to myself when I sort of returned to work, it was about having clear delineation between sort of where work begins and ends. Prior to that, I was kind of guilty of bringing work home with me. I was fortunate that even sort of pre current times, I was able to work from home and stuff like that, so that helped. And setting those, were they were physical or kind of intentional boundaries around, I had access to my email on my phone and all that kind of stuff, saying, 'I've left the office now, or I've shut down my laptop for the day, work can wait until tomorrow. This time is now mine, and I will take care of the things that I need to take care of.' So, baby at home, partner at home, myself, and then fitting in where I could the study and the practice. I have two children now, and they're a little bit older, a little bit more grown off, but certainly, when they're younger and less mobile, I found that to be an easier time as such, it's never easy with kids, but you know, it is easier to manage and kind of work around it that way. And my partner, of course, was on maternity leave through the early part of that. And then, when she returned to work, we used sort of childcare and nurseries and things like that, and called in help from family to help out with childcare, and those kind of things.

Jeremy Cline 27:07
Fast forwarding to when you were made redundant, which you said how you really welcomed it. Were you already on the path at that point, do you think, to going, 'Yeah, you know what? I'm going to quit this at some point and start my own practice teaching yoga', was this the kick at the backside that you just really needed?

Matt Appleby 27:31
A little bit of both. I'd already got an inkling that I wanted to move away from that, my experience on a teacher training course that I did before that really gave me that calling to do something else. But certainly, my experience of sort of burnout and being quite unwell at that time made me realise that I needed to make changes around my lifestyle and ultimately give myself more time. I wanted to be around more for my children as they grew, and to be able to be part of their development as well, especially when they're little. So since, I kind of moved away from sort of regular full-time corporate work as such, when did I stop doing that, that was February 2018, if I recall, comoing up to four years now, and I consciously now work less, so in terms of the hours that I put in, I wouldn't call anywhere near what's known as full time. A day a week, I look after my youngest, so he has a day out of the nursery and we have some time together. And then, I manage our two businesses over the rest of the time. I kind of fit that in, and I'm very conscious about how I devote my energy and how I kind of show up day-to-day.

Jeremy Cline 27:51
Were there ever any points, particularly during the early days, when this full time as it were, so after you'd been made redundant, that you thought, 'I'm not sure I can do this, I'm not sure that this is going to make a living, satisfy all the practical needs as much as my own spiritual well-being, emotional needs'?

Matt Appleby 29:26
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, starting a new business takes time to build up and attract the right people, and these things take time and commitment to succeed. I certainly went through that, especially in the early first couple of years. And actually, when I very first sort of moved to working for myself, I was doing more in terms of childcare. So, I looked after my eldest back then two days a week. And to be honest, it was not that fun. They were the more challenging days of my week. It was about sort of reassessing the balance there. And I've taken a commitment to be able to do more of that, and work through that. Now, my eldest is at school, so that's kind of made things a little easier on that front, my youngest is still a pre-schooler, so it's about kind of juggling all that kind of picture around my own business and commitments there.

Jeremy Cline 30:29
Tell me more about the gym business, how that came about and your motivations for taking that on.

Matt Appleby 30:35
Yeah, sure. So, I mentioned earlier that gyms have been something I've always been into and strength training. So, I joined my first gym at 16. Prior to my eldest being born, I consciously quit the gym. And that was for two reasons at the time. So, back then, I was mid 30s, my approach to go into the gym had changed. So, I was doing more yoga and less of the other more traditional stuff. But I would still go two, three, maybe more times a week, more for classes. But I would spend probably an hour there at a time, the gym was around the corner, so I would run there or walk there. So, you're talking maybe an hour and a quarter each time. And I knew that that was a luxurious commitment heading into fatherhood. And I got these rose-tinted glasses, and I thought, 'I'm doing all this yoga practice, and this is my thing now, I can do that at home, I don't need to do it anymore.' So, I quit the gym. A couple of years passed by, and I noticed I'd lost strength for the first time. And that was quite alarming. The irony of how I discovered that was, I was moving a baby seat from the car, and if you ever lifted one of these things, even without a baby in it, they're really heavy. And I struggled to lift it. And I thought, 'Wow, I don't know what to do about this. I don't now half the time or feel like I want to commit to joining a regular gym.' So, I joined this place called fit20, which is local to me. I went along, loved it, and got great results within three, four months. I got my strength back, it helped with my energy levels, so then, this was winter 2018, I was still very conscious of my energy coming out of having burnout and things like that, so it used to be very up and down, it helped to even those fluctuations out. And it really helped my posture. And I thought it's really something in this. I really liked the method. I must admit, when I first joined, I was a customer first, I was quite sceptical, because it completely challenges what we as society think is the norm for building your strength. Because the fit20 formula is, you attend once a week for 20 minutes. So, it's high-intensity training, and the principle of it is, and I can firmly say that it works, through my own direct experience, is that it works at a genetic level, and you challenge your body. So, if you imagine that your muscles are batteries, you're attending your workout every week with pretty much a full battery. What we do is, systematically, you exercise all the major muscle groups, and you drain that battery and the muscles. And at that moment in time, it sends a strong signal to your body to get fitter and stronger. And it works on a different level to sort of regular strength training, but it sends all these hormonal indicators to your body to repair and get fitter and stronger. And it takes a week for that process to happen. So, the actual real benefit in the method is the rest period. If you were to train twice a week, you wouldn't get any real progress, you wouldn't see any real progress. Whereas if you leave it a week, that's the optimum time to then train again. So, in that interim period, your body's recharging, replenishing, getting stronger, getting healthier, helps to repair all the bodily systems, and then you repeat the training the following week, but it's a little bit more challenging. So, you're pushing that needle a little bit further.

Jeremy Cline 34:16
Was it a surprise to you that you kind of needed this in addition to the yoga?

Matt Appleby 34:20
Not entirely, no. I think, like I said, with my experience, I've got sort of rose-tinted glasses and sort of told myself that yoga was all I needed. And at that time, I firmly believed that was the case. But my practice and what I teach is relatively gentle. It's not a strong practice, what I would call a strong practice. It can be, but that's not me, and that's not what I teach, and it's not what I do, it's not what I'm about. However, strength training is a completely separate discipline. There are obviously elements that are familiar with what I do in my yoga teaching. but it's an enabler for the other things in life, that keeps me strong and fit. And primarily, at this point in life, it's strong and fit and healthy for being an dad to two boys. Because they take up a lot of energy, yeah. So, it helps me kind of keep that in check for me. And my yoga, the way I think of is, fit20 is to strengthen health, my yoga practice is to help release any tension, calm my nervous system. It's sort of almost the opposite, if you like. They work very much in hand.

Jeremy Cline 35:41
So, what takes you from being a fit20 customer to being an owner?

Matt Appleby 35:47
Yeah, good question. I joined as a member in November 2018. I got really curious about the business early into the next year and got to know the master franchisor quite well. Because the UK had offices next door to the studio where I trained, and the studio that I now work in. And I would kind of go in after my training and say, 'Tell me a bit more about this business. How's it work? I teach yoga, I love it. It seems to work really well with that. What are the opportunities?' And we talked and initially, I said I might be interested in this in maybe two or three years. He said, 'Well, you know what? This was the first studio in the UK', this is a Dutch business, the franchise has been running for 12, 13 years now, hugely successful over there and in other parts of the world. He said, 'I'm actually looking for somebody to run the studio now. I needed it to begin with, to set up the business, what do you think about becoming a franchise owner?' Which was kind of a real carrot for me at that time, and I thought, 'Okay, let me think about it.' And it just seemed like a great opportunity. And it was, it was a fantastic opportunity. So, by the middle of, I think it was June 2019, I took ownership of that business. And in the time between now and then, two and a half years or so later, I've been growing it to where we're at today. So, it's been a fantastic journey, I've learned a hell of a lot, the franchise business model was very appealing to me, because I have my yoga business, which is very much my kind of creative stuff, where I can create what I want to create, with the fit20 stuff, it's like a business in a box. So, the way I kind of look at a franchise business is, I find it more appealing as somebody that I come from a very structured corporate background, so I worked in IT for a bank, so there were a lot of procedures, rules, regulations that are to follow. With a franchise business, you kind of get that, you get the guidelines, this is the formula, this is how it works. It's a lift and shift approach. You do this, it looks the same in every location, the training is consistent across the board, I knew that I could make a success of it. So, that made that conversation easier. If it had been any other kind of business conversation, I think it might have been a different outcome. But given that there was a tried and tested model there, I went for it. And it's been, obviously, a challenging time through the pandemic, and we were about to close on a couple of occasions, three occasions, but the business has really bounced back well, we've grown tremendously. The method and what we do is more appealing now than ever, because it's all private, and training is all one-to-one or two-to-one. So, there aren't any crowds, there aren't any gatherings, we don't have the touch points that are a concern for a lot of people, as in other people, there aren't crowds, there aren't changing rooms, people just show up to their appointment, do their training, and go home.

Jeremy Cline 38:56
I've got to ask what your thinking was when you take this on, and given again your history with being superhuman and taking a lot on, you're a couple of years into starting your yoga business, which I would have thought in itself could be quite demanding, not just starting the teaching, but everything that goes along with starting a new business, developing and getting new clients and everything. This opportunity then comes along. Is there any point at which you're thinking, 'Now, hang on a minute, I've seen this video before. If I take this on, am I going to be going back down into taking too much on?' Did you have any of those thoughts? Were you getting any feedback like that from family and friends, from your partner, for example?

Matt Appleby 39:51
Yeah, I did, I was very conscious of it. I have kind of had to manage that balance and actively, or consciously do less on the yoga business as I focus more on fit20 and growing that. Did I get feedback from others? A little, yeah, but in a kind of a loving way. I felt that they trusted me to make the right decisions, and I trust in myself from my previous experience. So, it's been about healthy boundaries again, knowing what I can and can't do, and realising that I can't do everything and accepting that that's okay. And just being very conscious with my decision making and knowing that things take time. Now, I wasn't expecting either business to be an overnight success. However, the work I've put in and the groundwork and how things have developed in that interim period have led me to being in a strong place today where I'm at. And that feels good, a good place to be.

Jeremy Cline 41:01
And what does the future hold for you or would you like to hold for you? What's your, if you have one, five-year vision, 10-year vision, even legacy vision for you and your businesses?

Matt Appleby 41:14
Yeah, sure. So, great question. Thank you for asking. My intention is to have a second fit20 studio, at some point in the future. I'll be looking at that from next year onwards. But that's very much around building a strong team to support and deliver that, which I've been doing in the previous years. Becoming an ambassador for the fit20 brand, because I was one of the early adopters and a big advocate for what we do. As well as running my studio, I am the master trainer for the UK, so I train all the other franchise owners and assess all the other trainers in the business and ensure that we're delivering high-quality training across the board. So, that's a key aspect of it. And then, with my yoga business, similarly with fit20, is to help as many people as I can, and to help as many dads recover from burnout and know that there are efficient and effective ways to do that, and that it is achievable, no matter what occupational health may tell you, or whatever your experiences are or what your body is telling you. You can recover from that and find harmony in life and find that you can bring the right balance to your responsibilities of being both a parent and either a business owner or a professional or whatever it is that else that you're doing in the world. That's where I want to kind of grow into.

Jeremy Cline 42:45
I'm sure there's been all manner of different resources which have helped you on your journey, but do you have maybe one or two that you can recommend people take a look at?

Matt Appleby 42:56
Yeah, sure. So, something that's been a fantastic discovery for me in the last year is something called the Sedona Method, which I discovered on a training programme that I was doing. I'd never heard of it before. And it instantly appealed to me. So, to try and summarise what it is, it's a toolkit for helping you to release the baggage of life. So, the emotional baggage, all the conditioning, all the stories, all the stuff that we kind of accumulate over time, and tell ourselves that we have to be and do, and ultimately, that stuff holds us back. So, the Sedona Method really appealed to me, because it's very accessible teaching. At its core, it's teaching some yoga philosophy really, which, when you study yoga philosophy, can be quite a meaty topic and quite difficult to get your head around it, in terms of the language and what it means, and there are so many different lineages and all this stuff and the other, but what the Sedona Method does is, it really makes those teachings accessible, and shows us that, ultimately, we can be, do and have whatever we want.

Jeremy Cline 44:12
And how do you spell Sedona, so when I look it up and put it in the show notes?

Matt Appleby 44:16
S-E-D-O-N-A, the kind of the core practice or core tool, if you like, is something called welcoming and letting go. So, you kind of welcome all the stuff, and you let all that stuff go as well.

Jeremy Cline 44:33

Matt Appleby 44:34
So, that has been transformational for me last year.

Jeremy Cline 44:38
And if people would like to find you, where should they do that?

Matt Appleby 44:41
Of course, yeah, so for my yoga business, I will share some links with you, of course, Jeremy, but you can go to appleyoga.co.uk. And if you're interested in my, for the dads out there, if you're interested in my eight-week programme for burnout, burnout recovery I should say, that is appleyoga.co.uk/registration, I think, but I'll give you the link, I can't remember offhand. I should know that one. And for fit20, if you're interested in fit20, there's not just my studio, there are a number of others around the country, and fit20, fit20.co.uk, go on there, find the nearest studio, register for a free introductory training, find out about how it works, give it a go. You've got nothing to lose.

Jeremy Cline 45:31
Excellent, I'll put the links in the show notes. Matt, this has been a thoroughly enjoyable and really interesting conversation. I think, hearing about the impact of parenthood on fathers is not something that I've covered a great deal on the podcast, so I'm really grateful for you talking so openly and honestly about that, and also your own recovery from burnout. So, good luck for the future, and thanks so much for coming on the show.

Matt Appleby 46:04
Thank you very much. It's been fantastic.

Jeremy Cline 46:07
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Matt Appleby. I was really grateful for Matt for being so candid in his description of burning out. So, the events that led up to him, his feelings, his need, or at least his perceived need to be this superhuman who could do everything, and what that eventually led to. It's been a theme in previous episodes about how difficult it can be to manage both parenthood and your professional life. And it was a really timely reminder from that, that you may need to figure out what your priorities are, and sometimes something has to give. Now, in Matt's case, it was an episode of burnouts that told him that something had to change. But for goodness' sake, please don't wait until you're at that stage before taking a step back and thinking, 'You know what, this is all getting on top of me, I think I need to take a step back and look at all this.' There's a full transcript of the interview, a summary of everything we talked about, and links to the resources that Matt mentioned on the show notes page for this episode, they are at changeworklife.com/128, that's changeworklife.com/128 for Episode 128. And if you've enjoyed this episode, or any previous episodes, then do please take a couple of minutes to leave a review on Apple podcasts. Positive reviews are a great way of telling other people that the show is worth listening to. So, if you can spare a couple of minutes to leave a review, that would be amazing. As always, there's another great interview coming up in two weeks' time, so subscribe to the show if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you in the next episode. Cheers. Bye.

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