This article was originally published on October 6, 2020 and has been republished in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.
A large part of the fitness professional job is checking in on our client’s mindset and mental health. How can we help them both mentally and physically to ensure they are successful towards their fitness goals? How do these two parts of their overall wellness work together? How can we impact their lives further than their time in the gym?
Whether it’s in person or online, we actually don’t have much time each week with our clients. It’s important for us to check in with their mental health when we have their attention. For example, during their training sessions! At this point, we can ensure they feel amazing and lifted up after a session. And further, that they will make the right decisions in the other hours of the week.
Clients will often spill their deepest and darkest secrets to their trainer, and put a lot of trust in them. Often clients seek trainer guidance to navigate life’s trials and tribulations. To be honest, this can often be one of the toughest aspects of the job, but also the most rewarding. When we see someone embrace a healthy active lifestyle and see how it helps get them out a tough time in life, it makes the job worth it. Here’s what to know about personal training and mental health:
First: We are not psychologists and we shouldn’t try to be
What do I mean by this? I mean we should not be diagnosing or prescribing or recommending anything regarding the mental health of our clients. We can always refer our clients to professionals if we feel they would benefit from it or we suspect that a more serious mental health issue could be present; however, it is important to be very respectful and data-focused when looking at suggesting someone seek professional help.
We can also recommend books and podcasts that have maybe helped us stay positive through tough times! We can also help our clients with goal-setting to keep their focus on themselves and their own progress.
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Second: We know that exercise can help with mental health so let’s use that
Sometimes it’s best to use sessions with clients to let them escape their lives and not discuss what’s bothering them. Maybe use this as a time to lift them up by getting strength gains or dropping inches in the gym. Use the hour session to communicate a love for fitness and offer a positive attitude. Maybe use it as a chance to get their mind off of things going on in their daily lives. I often tell clients funny stories or remind them of their progress.
As much as we want to discuss their mental health and try to help them, sometimes the best way to help is to be their escape from daily life and put all their focus on their coach and their fitness.
This is something that is much harder to accomplish with online training clients, but that’s where our job is to get creative in ways to connect with our clients. Whether it’s a weekly mindset check-in email, sending them messages on a regular basis to cheer them on, or even sending them quick video messages to remind them they have support.
We know the mental aspect behind reaching training and weight loss goals is huge in keeping motivation high and actually accomplishing the goals clients set out to achieve. I hope this helps keep your clients on the right track and become a huge source of motivation for them to get where they want to be in life.