When someone trains as a personal trainer there are some obvious elements included within the training such as how to build muscle, how to increase fitness, how to manage weight etc. There is however one important element which is sometimes overlooked but is very important to consider as part of personal training, and that is the work of improving one’s mental health. Fitness can be excellent vehicle to achieve improvement.
All personal trainers should have in their toolkit an awareness of mental health and a knowledge of how exercise can be used as a vehicle to improve this. Research has shown that exercise can have a positive effect on mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, and many GPs now actually prescribe exercise to treat such conditions. If it is identified that someone has a serious mental health disorder, they should always get consent from their GP first before undertaking work with a personal trainer. Once a personal trainer knows that their client has appropriate clearance from their GP, they can start to plan exercise sessions which are not just designed to improve physical health, but mental health as well.
What should a personal trainer take into consideration?
In order to plan a programme a personal trainer must consider various things such as what the client is going to enjoy. Enjoyment is a big part of relieving stress. The personal trainer must also plan out how they can specifically tailor their plans towards an individual client. For example, if the client is suffering from stress, then embedding some relaxation into the session is going to be useful. It is important for a personal trainer to adapt things according to their client’s needs. For example, if a client gets incredibly anxious in a crowded area, then perhaps exercising in an open space outdoors with the client is going to be more appropriate than within a gym. There are lots of aspects that a personal trainer can take into consideration when planning an exercise session for a client.
What should a personal trainer be aware of?
A personal trainer should be aware of signs of any kind of mental health problems and should then be able to signpost the client to support and help if needed. For example, if the personal trainer notes that one of their clients is showing some signs of depression, whilst the personal trainer is not able to advise medically on this or put any kind of treatment together, the personal trainer can take the time to check in with them - asking the client how they are, offering a friendly ear for a chat and perhaps even a cup of tea, and checking if they are feeling okay.
What can a personal trainer do?
If the client discloses that they are suffering from mental health negative effects, or if this is spotted by the personal trainer, then the personal trainer can signpost to appropriate support. This could be the client’s GP or various mental health charities. Signposting can be a very important part of a personal trainer’s work.
How do Study Active support personal trainers?
All students who study a personal trainer course with Study Active are given access to our online CPD. The online CPD includes numerous modules on mental health to raise awareness of these different areas, so all personal trainers will have that within their toolkit when they study with Study Active. In addition to that, we also offer a Level 2 Mental Health Awareness qualification where someone can take a deeper dive into awareness on this very important issue.
Overall, it should be remembered that a personal trainer has a very important role to play in ensuring not just the physical but also the mental wellbeing of their clients, and exercise is a fantastic vehicle to help with this.
You can find out more about our Level 2 Mental Health Awareness qualification here