These benefits aren't just physical

When we think about exercising, the gym, good food and anything else training related we tend to be rather narrow-minded and just think of the physical changes to a person and forget the profound effects which exercise can have on your mental health. In my blog today I'm going to share a story that I feel is awesome in every way there is, it’s a story of a close friend.

Now I’ve been in this industry for nearly 10 years and seen some amazing changes, from my fellow coaches’ clients as well as from my own. To be honest, it's not really that hard to get someone into shape; over time you clean up a client’s diet, they'll drink more water, move more and you'll create new habits while banishing old ones. What really gets me excited more than this, however, is the transformation that physical activity, and all the above lifestyle changes, can have on a person’s mental state.

This is largely my own experience here but I've seen some great changes. No names will be mentioned, but the awesome stories I'm going to explain about below might just resonate with you…

I've seen: a lady in her early 50’s change into a powerhouse. She was able to find a ‘fuck it’ mental attitude towards the senior males, in the very male dominated industry in which she works. As a result of being consistent with the things I’ve mentioned above, she's been able to tackle tasks in a blunter and more to the point manner, increase her monthly turnover and make her colleagues understand they need her more than they realised.

I've seen: a young lad that was over 140kg and who was very quiet - he wouldn't say much even to me while we trained. After dropping over 45kg this guy just wouldn't shut up! And it was brilliant. He had the confidence to talk to anyone, make friends with anyone, and he managed to get my attention to look at hot girls on the gym floor while he’d got 100kg on his back, squatting. (OK health and safety issues here but you get my point).

I've seen: a business owner with a busy lifestyle, family and a solicitors firm to think about. I've watched this guy’s demons try to drag him down and keep him there. Slowly, over time, he's created his own gym in his basement, created a realistic routine in his life and started to turn shit around in his favour. He is now on the best training streak of his life!

I've seen: a mum of three come to me with rather low self-esteem, not happy with her shape, with no support from her husband (to the point of needing to hide that she has a coach from him and not wanting to be a better role model to her kids) become what I call a ‘super-mum’. She's changed her whole outlook on her home life, and realised how she can use physical activity to make her a better mum. It’s given her the confidence to smash a Tough Mudder course and become an inspiration to the other mums around her.

I've seen: a ‘fat dad’ (his words not mine) ashamed of the state he'd got himself into, and again, with the desire to have a better impact on his children's health, become an incredible human being. He’s turned into a pioneer in his household, learnt so much, and become so confident he now doesn't need me to coach him anymore. (Though I still ask for help and advice from him).

And lastly I've seen: my best friend… Well let's let him tell you…

"I started off training with Carl 5 months ago and I was a wiry, but still somehow fat and most importantly a very unhappy individual. I was on 7 tablets a day to manage my anxiety problems and all round depression. I was struggling to sleep and had no enthusiasm for anything at work or in my personal life. I started out with two sessions a week and with a bit of commitment it didn't take long for things to change on a physical level...(wider shoulders and all round less pear shaped body) but I'm proud to say that I'm now at the gym 5 times a week and I'm on 0 tablets to manage my mental state. A bad day feels indescribably better when I spend an hour in the gym. Credit to Carl where credit is due. I don't think its as simple as just being shown what exercises to do for however many sets/reps. I believe I've made a much progress as a I have because of his all round approach to training and for that I will be forever grateful".

"Think about the bigger picture here when it comes to physical activity."

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What I feel physical activity can help you out with

  1. Reduce stress: taking a walk or going to the gym can help with stress (1); exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress
  2. Boost happy chemicals: exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. This can massively help with depression or anxiety (2) (or those just feeling blue) so get that training session in the diary
  3. Improve self-confidence: on a very basic level confidence can boost self-esteem (3) and improve self-image
  4. Alleviate anxiety: the chemicals released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders (4)
  5. Help control addiction: the brain releases dopamine (5) the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food. Yes this can be seen as a negative however, on the bright side exercise can help in addiction recovery
  6. Increase relaxation: for some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill (6), even for people with insomnia

So let’s think about the bigger picture here when it comes to physical activity and understand all the benefits that it can have, both seen and unseen, for everyone – including you, the coach!

I could be slightly biased however I feel I'm on if the lucky few who get to say "I genuinely enjoy my working day" as I feel being a coach or trainer is one of the most rewarding careers out there.

We have an ability or more power, I should say, to do amazing things with to people's lives for the better. I don't think that can be taken for granted.

With that being said, it takes way more then just your REPS level 3 certificate to be a decent trainer. So to become a great trainer, this is why I invest my time and money continual careers progression. Clearly I can't recommend the BTN Academy enough, which opens again in April. Going through the BTN Academy has definitely made me become a better coach and I promise it will do the same for you. I always like to look back 6 months and be confident to say "I'm a much better, knowledgeable coach than I was 6 month ago".

It's not just nutrition though. By looking at mind set, business and other related courses, these have been key to my development. That's why I recommend you keep an open mind activity and look for opportunities to learn, be they dedicated seminars, CPD courses or books - you can NEVER have enough knowledge in this field.

Keep learning, keep earning,

Coach Carl