During my Sport & Exercise Psychology degree I became fascinated with the psychology of exercise for everyday people. While I enjoyed sport psychology, I developed a true love for the psychology of exercise, and we had the perfect opportunity to combine the two in our third Mind Health session.
I wanted to teach the contestants some powerful mental skills so they could get the most out of their training and challenges. Many people go it alone with will power - they simply try their hardest and push themselves to the limit. But adding Skill Power by learning focused psychological skills helps you push beyond your limits. If you think about it, this is often what a trainer does – motivates you through the session, painting a picture of success to get the most out of you. But these skills can also be developed internally – you can become your own personal trainer. The skills we focused on developing were Self-Talk and Visualisation. If applied correctly, these skills, like all mental skills are designed to:
· Improve performance
· Increase enjoyment of the activity
· & Generalise to other areas of life*
We used the example of assault bikes to practice our mental skills, but I wanted the contestants to practice the skills in their training sessions**, apply them in challenges, and take them home whenever they left the house.
After all, the contestants won’t always have the support of Shannan and Libby. It’s important they learn how to motivate themselves using the power of their own minds. Shannan wakes up before the sun to do his own sessions before spending the day motivating others. Libby punches out snappy 10-minute workouts between media interviews. Why? Because they talk themselves into it. They visualise their own success! I wanted the same for the contestants. I wanted them to start to become their own trainers!
Of course, though, great trainers don’t only push you. They help you enjoy movement, make you feel confident, understand what motivates you, dissolve any embarrassment you feel, and compassionately support you to work your way through your barriers. In my words, they help you develop a positive relationship with movement. And, just like Sport Psychology can help you develop the mental skills to push yourself further, Exercise Psychology can help you develop a love affair with moving your body (yes, it is possible!). The best way to you keep up with physical activity is to enjoy it, so ensure the trainer you develop inside your mind helps push you further and also makes the journey one that is fun for you as a unique individual!
For my top five tips on developing a great relationship with movement, read my blog Movement – Get It Like You Like It.
*After all, Sport psychs just stole them from mainstream psych to begin with!
**Psychological skills are like any other skills – they have to be learned – but with practice you get better at them, they become second nature, and your performance skyrockets!