Tomorrow, (May 17th, 2021) England opens up a little bit more after the 3rd lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New laws mean we can sit indoor cafes/restaurants, attend in-person fitness classes, and spend time with people in our own homes (amongst other changes).
For many, yes.
Yet, for those suffering with an Eating Disorder (and many other mental and physical health conditions), easing restrictions means facing experiences, people and challenges that have (for a long time now) been largely un-faced.
It means shared meals. Unsolicited comments. Unpredictable events. Small steps back to the office. Pressures to have fun, to laugh, eat, drink, be with others and generally engage a little more in that complicated thing we all call ‘life’.
All things which can trigger and fuel an Eating Disorder after a long time in a safe, manageable cocoon.
So how can we, as FitPro’s, but also as kind and compassionate human beings in whatever walk of life, support and look out for someone (and each other) at this time, when things change
A G A I N.
- If someone says ‘No, thank you’ to a suggested plan, please don’t question, challenge or push. It might have taken them years to build up to going out for dinner, and after a long time away, this will likely need re-building. They’ll say “Yes” when they’re ready, and they’ll appreciate you for sitting tight and waiting in the meantime.
**In fact, if anyone (ever) says ‘No, thank you’ to anything NEVER question this. I’m learning about the big ol’ concept of boundaries in my personal life right now, and this is an example of one. Respect it. It’s there for a reason, we all have them and we all need to use them as/when necessary.**
- Keep an eye on an increase in opportunities for in-person exercising. With more face-to-face class options available (and more fitness settings opening their doors again), pressures to exercise may increase, and urges to compulsively do so may soon follow. We’ll never be able to monitor or fully keep track of this (online or offline) but it’s important to be aware. Teach your class as a whole, but don’t forget to see each unique individual within it.
- Bump (hopefully not literally) into a client in the street? Please don’t ask when they’ll be back in your class or comment that “I haven’t seen you in the studio since we un-locked! Are you not working out right now?!” You run the risk of putting pressure on them to return, and there may be many reasons why they haven’t. Lots of us want to continue online, for example, and returning to the studio’s isn’t top of the list. Acknowledge it’s nice to see them, and leave it at that.
- Don’t automatically…hug. For COVID reasons (LOL) but also because touch is personal. Sometimes we don’t want to be squeezed or embraced. Sometimes we’re still learning how we feel within ourselves, without the need to bring in how we feel in the arms of someone else. Maybe, test the waters a bit first? See what Hugging Vibes someones giving off before you go IN.
And…if anyone’s wondering…I am UP FOR A HUG. Just not a long, all-encompassing one, K? Those ones are just awkward AF.
(*and spritz yourself first plz).
- Avoid appearance based comments. This applies ALWAYS. But especially now, as we’re likely to de-layer a bit (as summer hopefully arrives!) and we get the chance to take our coats and THOUSANDS of layers off inside. (*RIP the Wapping Wharf Steps…I hope to never return to you*). Talk about something/EVERYthing other than how someone ‘looks’. What’s important is how we f e e l.
Some people might not have worn certain gym wear in a while, and/or they might not have worked out in the company of others. Give people the space to ease themselves back in gently, I know you’ll make it a safe one.
- Going back to the office? Leave your diet chat at the door. It was boring pre-pandemic and…
“YES Sheila we are eating our lunch at 11:15am and YES these are the same leggings we had on yesterday WHAT OF IT”.
Same goes for a fitness based setting. Avoid relating food to movement. Avoid openly commenting on your own food intake or movement patterns. The majority of the time (although seemingly harmless) often mindless comments aren’t helpful.
- Remember you are not responsible for someone’s ‘whole’ health. If you’re a FitPro or someone in a profession where you might be looked up to or seen as having your sh*t together (in any way), people *may* approach you with a whole lotta ‘stuff’ going on inside their head. The amount of people doing this will likely have significant increased since you were last in the studio.
Hold them. Be with them. Advise them and guide them (if/when you can within your professional remit) but your priority is YOU and only you. Do what you can, but do NO MORE.
Remember, we can support but we can’t save. Make sure someones here for you too.
We got this. And we got each other. Promise.
We just go easy on both, and take our time with it ALL.