At Reflex Nutrition, we value mental health just as much as physical health. We've been chatting to our PTs, influencers, colleagues, friends and family to get some real life stories and break down the stigma attached to mental health!
We wanted to share them for Mental Health Awareness Week in the hope of starting a conversation, breaking down barriers and coming together as a community to support each other. Here's Paul, a Reflex PT, with his story.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Paul Gillingham and I've been part of the fitness industry since 2005. I'm based in Crawley, West Sussex and work as a lifestyle coach, online fitness coach and a Personal Trainer. The main reason I got involved with the industry was because I am so passionate about educating others to help them become happier, healthier, fitter and stronger within their own bodies.
What does mental health mean to you?
Mental Health has become so big recently and that's even before the COVID outbreak. I've been with ex partners that suffer with mental health and work with many people that suffer with mental health. I think as a coach it is so so important to just listen rather than to talk sometimes and it's an area that I really am so passionate about trying to make an improvement in.
I really believe that the exercise part now is such a small part of the overall process of trying to help people and so I really like to get to know the people I work with and always offer my lifestyle programme first.
What’s your personal experience with mental health?
As mentioned above, my ex-wife suffered with a severe generalised anxiety disorder so I had to very quickly understand the symptoms and how would be the best way to support her.
Many friends and family members I know, plus various clients also suffer with depression anxiety and many other forms of mental health and I just do my best to listen, to smile, to be as positive as I can be around them and just offer advice, guidance and assurance that they can always reach out and talk to me.
Do you believe exercise/health and fitness have a positive impact on mental health?
100% exercise makes a positive impact on mental health and that can just be going for a walk with a friend or family member. With my PT business I always like to offer an 'all inclusive' package so not only do I take care of their workouts and nutritional plans but I make sure I speak to them outside of sessions just to see how they are doing. I also run outdoor classes which I know makes a huge difference to those that come along.
How do you motivate yourself and/or your clients when motivation in training is lacking?
If you asked this question in 2019 it would be very different to the answer now. Now I'm in a great place, I switch off from social media by 8.45pm EVERY night, I go to sleep by 10pm EVERY night and before my day starts I read and mediate EVERY morning.
My clients and friends all know this and also know what I've been through, so they know I am literally here to help them. I'm very outgoing and very positive so they know that whatever troubles they have or however bad their day has been they know I will always pick them up and give them a great workout.
A few encouraging words for anyone struggling?
A few words of advice I can literally give to anyone is just never ever give up. If you get knocked down then get back up and if you get knocked down 7 times then get back up 8.
If nothing else, last year has taught us that life can be very short so focus on YOU and only YOU and be the best version of your greatest self you can possibly be. Also know that it's not an overnight success or a quick fix but if you can give yourself a year and hire a great coach then you can literally turn your life around.