As a fitness instructor or personal trainer, you play a pivotal role in your client’s overall health, and it’s not what you think.
You are in the prime position to help your clients prioritize their mental health along with their physical health.
What can you do as a fitness professional to promote mental wellbeing?
- Prioritize and attend to your own mental health.
- Learn ways to boost mental fitness along with physical fitness.
- Build your referral network. Know your local and national resources.
In order to walk the walk, we must first become comfortable with talking the talk ☺️ Unfortunately there is still a stigma around talking about mental health struggles. By talking about mental health, and the spectrum that it falls on, we are normalizing these conversations and breaking down this stigma. If you feel comfortable doing so, you could also share your own experiences or at least openly talk about the benefits of therapy and seeking help if you are struggling. Your own openness might help another realize they could benefit from seeking professional help.
The second part of this is of course walking the walk. In a service industry it’s not always easy to focus on yourself. You are constantly pouring your heart and soul into helping others, but we must prioritize our own mental health. It’s exactly like that cliché says, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.”
Recognize where you have gaps in your own understanding and further your knowledge of mental health. Learn strategies for stress management and ways of boosting mental fitness (what’s great is you’re already doing so by following this account!!). By offering a service that targets both mental health and physical health, you’re essentially making your sessions twice as effective at improving your client’s overall wellbeing.
Building a referral network is important if we want to remain within our lane. While what we do as fitness professionals is valuable, we cannot fail to recognize that we are limited to our scope of practice. A trained mental health professional (psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, etc.) can often be the missing puzzle piece to someone’s overall health. Know the local and national resources available to you and your clients, you never know when you might need them.
Here are just a few resources, available within the United States, that you should have handy:
The National Alliance of Mental Illness (www.nami.org) is a great place to start for community programs.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a behavioral health treatment locator at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential assistance, 24/7, to those in crisis. You can call 1-800-273-8255 to reach counselors on the other end of the line that are trained to sit with you in those dark moments and offer support by connecting you to local resources.