HCM Issue 6 2021

Page 12


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Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – healthclub@leisuremedia.com

PTs are likely to find themselves on the front line when it comes to working with people with disordered eating Dr Bunmi Aboaba COVID-19 lockdowns have triggered a spike in mental health issues, which for some manifested in disordered eating. Statistics from eating disorders charity, Beat, show an 140 per cent increase in demand for their helpline services between February and November 2020. There are also more reports of health club members asking their instructors for help with non-hunger eating and food-related issues. Professionals working in health and fitness have a pivotal role to play in the fight to help people overcome

these self-sabotaging tendencies. Getting help early is the key to success, the NHS has seen a million people seeking help with obesity, while eating disorder helpline services are overwhelmed and GPs can’t cope. It makes sense to have specialist training available for personal trainers and fitness professionals in the health and fitness industry. This is partly because PTs are likely to find themselves on the front line when it comes to working with people with disordered eating. They’re also well placed to encourage a client to utilise other support, such


Issue 6 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021


PTs and fitness instructors could be trained to be food addiction coaches to support clients

as therapists, nutritional support, friends and family and, if necessary, doctors and medical services. A health and fitness professionals’ attitude towards helping people build healthy relationships with food and their body can play an important part in their recovery. Another strong reason for PTs to upskill in this area is that they interact with clients regularly and so are in a position to identify disordered eating patterns – sometimes in the early stages – and use coaching skills to prevent someone from developing a full-blown eating disorder. Referral from the NHS GP services to specialist PTs could be a gamechanger and also increase the standing of fitness instructors and the industry in the eyes of the public. My mission is to create an army of food addiction coaches, armed with the facts, strategies and techniques to create transformation and fulfilment with effective, resultsbased methods and compassion. Helping a member or a client change their relationship with food, while healthily increasing their physical activity levels is the way forward. We need a paradigm shift in the way we approach disordered eating and as health and fitness professionals, together we can do just that.