To say fitness is a lifesaver for me is an understatement.
As someone who has experienced anxiety, long term and postpartum, depression and borderline personality disorder – fitness has been an outlet for me to learn how to love myself and appreciate what I can do (and not to mention reap the benefits of all the happy chemicals a good workout releases).
But mentally accessing fitness and implementing a routine in your life can be one of the hardest parts of the journey – and if, like me, you use fitness as a tool for both your mental and physical health… the barriers that we are placed behind (or we place ourselves behind) can feel like they make our situation worse.
Let’s talk about Mental Accessibility for a moment –
Mental accessibility is essentially the ability to develop and then access the motivation and inspiration to do fitness. And then ultimately taking the steps to actually DO what you want is a huge barrier for a lot of people. The phrase “I lack the motivation” is probably one of the most common things I hear from clients at the start and throughout their journey. But that “lack of motivation” usually stems from other parts of our mental sphere. Some of these might look like
- Fear – What if I get hurt? What if I can’t do it?
- Insecurities – What if people judge me? I’m not made for the gym. What if I look stupid?
- Inexperience – I don’t know what to do, even if I go
The voices in our head –
Our mind weeds – that fester and grow and spread are ultimately what holds us back from taking the first few steps, and then the next few steps, to a healthier lifestyle. But like any good garden, sometimes it needs a little bit of weeding.
And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not easy, if it was then just anyone would do it. But there are tools that exist to help, and one of the biggest ones are personal trainers. We see professionals for all sorts of things in our life – doctors, optometrists, nail technicians, hair stylists… So what makes our personal health and fitness any different?
We have all heard it, the countless benefits of personal training –
Accountability, expertise, someone to “push you”…But let me start with a little story I am a personal trainer, competitive OCR athlete, mother of 2 and an avid mountain climber. But this wasn’t always me… and honestly it wasn’t that long ago where my life was very different.
A handful of years back I suffered from heavy depressive episodes, I was a pack a day smoker, drank at least 2 tall cans of beer a night “to unwind” while watching TV, ate Tim Hortons breakfast sandwiches every morning on my commute to work at my desk job and averaged maybe 3000 steps a day.
Honestly, I didn’t hate my life (I LOVE beer) but I hated how I felt. I hated that I wasn’t happy with how I looked, I wasn’t happy that I couldn’t make it up a flight of stairs, and I wasn’t happy that I just felt like garbage every day – mentally and physically. I was heavy in my depression and I felt stuck. And if you asked me at the time I would’ve told you I had tried EVERYTHING.
I had been a member to every kind of gym in Ottawa at least once. I had tried every class, every bootcamp, every yoga. But it never stuck. Any time I went to the gym I felt lost, I felt insecure that people might watch me and know that I had NO idea what I was doing and I lacked “motivation” (key word here!). This was my cycle for years.
So what changed?
I walked into a gym I had recently signed up with and was greeted by a trainer at the door. We chatted a little and they suggested I book a fitness consult and talk a little bit about my goals. So we booked, and I showed up (which was harder than it should have been), and admittedly I cried a lot. We laid out a plan and the next week I started personal training. Just one session a week.
Financially it was all I could afford but I knew deep down I deserved this investment in myself. My daily takeout breakfast, daily pack of cigarettes, daily 2 pints (and not including the weekend) added up to around $700 a month. That’s how much my unhealthy lifestyle was costing me. I deserved better for myself and I knew it.
Being with a personal trainer, even one day per week, was what I needed to kick start my journey. Together we worked on building healthier habits in my movement, nutrition and lifestyle. He helped me to work towards goals such as quitting smoking, drinking a lot less, and making healthier breakfast choices. He helped me to create a pattern of movement, show up to the gym even when I wasn’t training with him (because he worked there… so he would expect to see me around), and he taught me all I would need to know to work out effectively and confidently by myself.
At the beginning of our training he told me to pick a movement goal – something random. Not related to weight, but just something I’ve always wanted to do. And I decided I wanted to do a handstand – which previously I would have thought was WAY out of my ability.
One year later
After training for some time I tried obstacle course racing – and my goals changed and adapted. I fell in love with a sport I had always thought was out of my reach. I hired another expert trainer specifically for my goals and after one year of training with him I won my first race! And shortly after that I decided that I wanted to share my passion and help people in the same way that my trainers helped me. (And yes, even now as a personal trainer and manager at an amazing gym!!! I still have a trainer who trains me!)
A personal trainer isn’t just a workout buddy, or an accountability buddy. They aren’t just someone to tell you to do some squats and cheer you on. They can work with you towards meeting your goals and ultimately changing your life! And sometimes, all it takes is a little guidance to help you achieve things you always dreamed of.