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Fitness, mental health and the scales..

Why start exercising?

I had a conversation with a client today and it made me think about my own instructor style and why I love doing what I do. It also made me want to write a short blog on why the reasons to start your fitness journey are pretty important to both you -and if you are employing a PT -them as well.

There are lots of reason to want to change your lifestyle for the better such as weight loss, health reasons - physical and mental health, wanting to help you be more comfortable later in life, the list is endless really. When you employ a PT the questions they should be asking you is why you want to exercise, what are your goals etc. I think one of the main flaws of the fitness industry is that it mainly concentrates on weight loss, I have written blogs about this before and using the scales as a measure - which I totally disagree with. In the media today both men and women have such pressure to measure up to the size 8-10 perfect size, or the muscle-bound lean looking six-pack hunk.

In reality there there are few out there who have the time or commitment to become these people. In the real world, they are busy with family, jobs and just going about their normal lives. Of course they would like a six-pack or be a size 8-10 but its not going to be a priority for them to put in the long hours of training that may get them to see them achieve these goals. It's not going to be top of their to-do list because they have to work 7 hours a day, then they have family life to contend with this takes up quite a chunk of people's time. I think the trainers in the fitness industry give people false hope on what they can achieve using a ‘normal’ number of hours to train and I also think that they THINK they know what people want, so spend their time training them and lecturing them on subjects that aren’t necessarily helpful or inspiring to the client.

Take for instance someone who just wants to have 1 session a week, yes they’re not going to see dazzling physical results but the improvements they will feel in their head are exactly what they’re looking for! They are sat at home behind a desk for 7-8 hours a day, the only contact they have is on the phone, so to come away for 1 hour a week and have a session where they can forget about work and sweat the stress out whilst hopefully having fun is, I think more important than losing that pound. This person will be building their aerobic base ( yes even with 1 session), improving their sleep, how much energy they have and also giving themselves something different to focus on even for just that hour a week. The benefits of exercise to your mental health is incredibly important and the more I pursue a career in fitness the more I believe that I am right. I myself am a great example of how exercise improves your mental health, I also have clients who come to me feeling quite stressed after a long day at work where the atmosphere has been quite overwhelming and they have left their session with a spring in their step! Never underestimate the power of endorphins, you could be feeling really down and terribly stressed before the session but once it's over wow what a difference. Obviously there are going to be instances where people need other help besides exercise to lift their mood and that’s when they need to take stock of the situation and visit their doctor.

The point I am trying to make is for trainers not to use their sessions to lecture their clients on healthy eating. If the client hasn’t mentioned a weight loss goal then why are you assuming they want to diet? Yes by all means mention that through energy expenditure it would be wise to consume more complex carbs (such as wholegrain pasta and rice), protein and healthy fats, but to be honest the majority of people who sign up for personal training sessions know about eating healthily and they also know what they need to change in terms of what they are eating. I feel if the trainer brings up diet at every session it can be a demotivator and fuel resentment and worse case scenario make the client leave and go elsewhere. I hope in my sessions I make the client feel confident, happy and give them the boost to make them feel that they can achieve all their fitness goals through targeting their REAL goals not my goals for them!

I really think that the media needs to branch out a from the scales and push how the benefits of exercise can improve your outlook on life, it can help you see a much more positive side through making you feel more energised, it can help with your confidence and also some people’s anxieties. I for one have decided that in 2019 I will try and make people wake up to the fact that if they let themselves move for 30 mins 3 times a week letting their heart rate rise a little, and getting a sweat on then they will start feeling better about themselves physically and mentally as both of these are as important as losing that weight!

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