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The coronavirus pandemic has forced the issue of mental health to the forefront of our awareness as a society.

We’ve all struggled with extra pressures during this past year, whether it’s from financial pressures, the isolation of working from home, home-schooling children, loneliness, the stress of feeling cooped up, strains on relationships or even just the monotony of every day feeling the same.

In the coming months, as the restrictions of lockdown start to ease, our gyms & leisure facilities reopen and our sporting activities begin to resume, as coaches, there’s no getting away from mental health issues.

Every single one of your group participants and individual clients will be harbouring some kind of mental strain from the measures we’ve been living under for the last 12 months, that go against our instincts as human beings.

And if we add in the fact that according to BUPA, millions of people started a new fitness kick during lockdown and picked up some kind of strain or muscle pull that they didn’t want to have checked by a medical professional for fear of adding strain to the healthcare system, we have a perfect storm of increased anxiety plus previous injury – both of which massively increase the risk for further injury.

In accordance with UK Coaching’s 5 Pillar strategy of our “Duty to Care” as coaches, it’s part of our responsibility as sports and exercise instructors to take into consideration and respect the emotional and mental challenges that our clients might be facing under the surface or behind the scenes.

But what if we don’t feel comfortable with the subject? Or our clients don’t? And what if our clients picked up some kind of muscle strain months ago that they don’t even think about anymore or don’t want to mention for fear of not being able to exercise socially – now they’ve finally got the chance?

Here’s 5 simple steps you can take to improve the mental health of your clients AND reduce their risk of injury, without ever mentioning it, or getting soppy about it:

  1. Inclusion – make every activity you choose something that everyone in your group can do, regardless of their movement ability. The last thing people need right now is to feel left out or different.
  2. Social – choose or adapt activities to involve more interaction between group members or you and your client. After months of limitations, people are desperate for social engagement
  3. Different – Being cooped up in the house and not being able to go places has massively increased how repetitive our movements have been, especially in sitting. Take the opportunity to choose activities that encourage your group members to move their bodies in completely different ways – you’ll be amazed at how uplifting this is
  4. Fun – There’s nothing more powerful in lifting the blues that having a laugh. Choose activities that draw even the faintest smile from your clients can have a profound effect on how much they can relax, so throwing a few fun activities into the cool-down can be especially effective
  5. Successful – Choosing activities that your clients can feel successful with brings a sense of accomplishment and positivity which can help change a person’s state of mind – especially after months of being told we can’t do things.

So even if you’ve got the most “die-hard”, “stiff upper lip” or “let’s just get on with it” clients, now you’ve got some super simple ways to help them, regardless of how much they pretend they’re not affected.

I hope these simple tips help. Feel free to let me know in the comments below, and of course, if you like the idea of doing more to help your clients in this way, without getting bogged down in the details of their issues, I’d like to invite you to join our awesome community of coaches over on Facebook. You can find us at

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