by Colm O’Reilly
Certified Two-Brain Business Mentor
I think there are five pillars of health – sleep, movement, nutrition, mindset and connection. The first three we’re well used to talking about in our gyms and personal training studios. The second two tend to get the least attention.
When your members brag to their friends and loved ones about the great community, they’re really telling them about the connection/belonging that all humans need and crave. If we do our job right and foster a supportive, inclusive and growth focused culture in our gym, we’re helping people with their relational/social health.
Mindfulness and Mindset can seem tough to teach, but there’s no reason to shy away from coaching them. Much like we’d never ask a client to go from a sedentary lifestyle to running an ultra-marathon, or from eating take-out every night to strict paleo-zone with intermittent fasting, we don’t need to ask our clients (or ourselves) to have the perfect mindset or give up their worldly possessions to meditate life under a waterfall!
Here we’ll list out some of the ways we can introduce mindfulness and a healthy mindset to our athletes. You may find that you already do some of these practices. In that case, great! All you need to do is be more deliberate and conscious about them to help your members get the mental benefits out of their time in your gym.
- Set Intentions for workouts: Whatever we’re working out on, we can be deliberate about. Smooth technique, even split times between rounds. Rather than just getting through the work, we’ve now given them something to be fully focused on. Each time they appear to lose sight of the goal and start to rush or get distracted, gently bring them back to the intention they set.
- Letting Go of The Last Play: Teaching and encouraging them to not carry their last mistake into this one. When they miss a lift or don’t hit their nutrition goals, invite them to let go of the misstep and focus on what they can do now instead.
- Being Kind to Themselves: During workouts it’s easy to slip into negative thinking “I’m really breathing hard here”, “This weight is so heavy”, “I’m not good at this”. If you ever heard a coach say this to a member you’d fire them on the spot! Teach your clients to coach themselves like they would their best friend in a partner workout.
- Kindness towards others: Make it a goal for the class for each member to shout out some encouragement to their fellow athletes 1-3 times during the workout. In the moments we’re shouting out “Good Job, Brenda!” or “You can do it, Mike!” we’re no longer thinking of our own suffering. Plus our brains want to be congruent so we’ll reason that if we are asking others to keep going and be positive, we’d better act accordingly as well!
- Gratitude Practice: During the whiteboard talk at the start of class, quickly go around the room and ask everyone to share one person, event, or little thing they’re grateful for. This can also be done after a workout, asking people what they enjoyed or what benefit they felt from class.
- Create a Complaint Free Zone: Don’t allow any moaning about the workout, the weather, traffic, Starbucks getting your order wrong, etc. as long as they’re in the gym. There is a time and place to discuss what’s troubling us, but most of the time complaining is just not empowering. Last year we handed out complaint free bracelets to anyone who wanted one in the gym, and asked everyone to point out when we as staff complained. The uptake was way less than half the gym, but the impact it had on everyone’s attitude was enormous!
- Give them a minute: So many of us are rushing from one thing to the next, and our clients are no different too. You an give them a quiet minute at the start or end of class to allow their minds to catch up from all that’s gone on so far that day, or just let go of their worldly stresses for a few minutes so they can concentrate on what they’re doing in class.
Your clients value what you value. If you value something it’ll show in your words and behaviors. To help improve your clients’ mindset and mental well-being it’s important you invest time and energy into yours by following the above practices daily and educating yourself on the subject.
Don’t let the mental health improvements be a purely incidental benefit of physical training, start weaving it into your coaching language today and watch the impact on your clients’ lives!