This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which aims to help you explore mental health issues and the practical steps that you can take to help you manage with stress, anxiety, loneliness, depression and more.
We spoke with Echelon Instructors Demi and Sage about their experience with fitness, mental health and how they manage their wellbeing.
Q: How did you get involved in the fitness industry and how do you feel exercise has impacted your mental health?
Demi: “Well, I got into the fitness industry as I had a huge passion for sport at a young age. I previously did commercial modelling which made me feel I wasn’t good enough and I wanted to feel more confident within myself and my body as I didn’t feel good about myself. Going to the gym helped build my confidence and self-esteem.
Exercise has been my saving grace for my mental health. I have met so many amazing people through my job and training in the gym. It’s made me feel more confident within myself.”
Q: What is one personal challenge that you face that impacts your mental health?
Sage: “Becoming a parent is the biggest challenge I’ve taken on and one that affected my mental health the most. Becoming a new mum can feel incredibly isolating; that coupled with exhaustion can be very challenging.
I do 3 things:
1. Identify my triggers - lack of sleep and lack of “me time”.
2. Look at my week and schedule time to myself ( this is almost always exercise).
3. Stick to my plan with the support of my friends, family and wider Echelon community.
Being a trainer doesn’t make our journey to physical and mental health any easier. This is why when any of our Echelon members posts about their struggles, it really resonates with me. And when I see the support that they get from other members, it makes me so much prouder to be a part of this team.”
Demi: “I worry about the future, my anxiety plays havoc with me. I always worry about what hasn’t even happened yet and what will happen and where I will be (I guess most people do). This massively affects my mental health and makes my anxiety worse some days . Thankfully I have managed to curb my anxiety by exercising and writing down notes to stop my mind doing overtime, and not forgetting my vitamins!”
Q: Do you notice a difference in your mental health when you exercise? How do you feel when you do vs don’t?
Sage: Reasons for feeling so much better after working out is multifaceted: “me time IS we time”. You don’t have to go through exercise alone. Most of my friendships and connections have come from exercise. Aside from the endorphin rush, I also experience greater confidence in myself, a sense of achievement for sticking to a goal and I sleep better. For me personally, there is such a strong connection between my exercise routine and how that impacts my mental wellbeing.
Demi: “Yes, I feel a huge difference when I’m exercising as opposed to when I’m not exercising. When I exercise I feel so much happier and my head feels so much clearer. When I haven’t exercised I almost feel like my mind is clouded with thoughts and I feel sluggish. I feel confident and immediately uplifted after I finish my workout, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Q: Is there one piece of advice that you would give a member who is struggling with feelings of loneliness?
Demi: “EXERCISE - get fit and get active, this reduces the time you can feel lonely! Talking to someone whenever you feel lonely is also very important! Us instructors are always here to help.”
Everyone experiences some sort of mental health issues and it is completely normal. Although there are numerous steps to take in helping to cope, leading an active lifestyle is one of the most simple and beneficial ways that you can begin to improve your mental wellbeing.
Read more about our member journeys with Echelon, discover the Echelon Facebook Community.