What’s your definition of fitness? For me, in the past 15 years of my career, I’ve learned so much about what fitness is and what the word means. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to use fitness as a tool to improve my mental strength.
Despite it being a passion of mine, I’ve found that just talking about mental health wasn’t making much of a change. Sharing an open approach to mental health is essential to recovery and opening up about your experiences, but so is building your resilience.
Having worked in the emergency services, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being present in the aftermath of over 50 suicides. Each and the all had at least one common themes that lost the person along the way.
When you’re suffering or trying to work through a mental health issue, it can be extremely hard to recognise your self-worth and celebrate your achievements. Fitness can give an incredible path to slowly rediscover that sense of self-worth from hard work. Even setting out to take on a workout and beginning that day having finished it is a huge achievement to be recognised
The feeling of being alone and having no network to support you through the down days is a huge contributor to mental ill health. The fitness community is like no other – whether you’re training together with other people, or even training alone but being part of a wider connected group doing the same plan, sharing scores and chatting about the workout, it can help no end. Within fitness there is no competition or will to have another fail. Opening up through exercise as a common language to others is the perfect way to break barriers and create bonds that turn into support networks without equal. (Continued below)
As you’ll know, Covid-19 has created a global mental strain like none other in recent history. With more focus on personal health and working out from home and with social distancing regulations looking likely to be in place for the rest of the year, now is the ideal time to take on some functional fitness workouts.
Over lockdown I started to take signature functional fitness workouts and give them alterations to take on at home and turn them into tools to build your mental strength. What looks like a massive workload on paper but one that you can just keep chipping away at is the foundation of Strong Body, Strong Mind sessions.
This super-accessible dumbbell session is a perfect example: a 60-minute challenge that anyone can do and everyone will feel more mentally resilient and, indeed triumphant for finishing. You’re going to be working in five-minute blocks, then resting for the remainder before the next five-minute block begins. Start the clock on your phone, pick some good music and settle into a solid hour. You can do this. Together, we all can.
Every 5 minutes for 60 Minutes complete the following:
1) Burpee Over Dumbbell x 10
These can be step-up and step-down burpees and even step over. But for the perfect form, lay your dumbbell on the ground beside you and drop into a press-up position (A). Lower your chest to the ground, hop your legs back in and jump laterally over the dumbbells (B). Repeat on the other side, alternating until all reps are complete. If you don’t have a dumbbell use a weighted backpack or any weighted item for this.
2) Skipping x 100
If you can do double-unders, do 50 reps in total. If you don’t have a rope, do 100 standing jumps. With all of them, keep your head up (A) and focus on using small movements of your wrists to spin the rope (B) rather than making big loops with your arms.
3) Dumbbell Hang Clean and Jerk x 30
Holding a dumbbell at your sides, hinge at the hips to lower toto your knees (A). Now pull the weight up, using your hips to power it up to your shoulder (B). Stand up straight, then bend your knees slightly to help power the dumbbell straight overhead (C). Change hands on the way down and repeat. Alternatively replace with a weighted item that you can swing to overhead.