As group exercise instructors, our job is to motivate and guide others towards better physical health.

But in the midst of constantly giving energy to others, it’s easy to forget about our own mental well-being. 

As important as it is to take care of our bodies so we can #StandAtTheFront and lead our classes, it’s equally crucial to take care of our minds. Here are five ways we group exercise instructors can support our mental health: 

1. Understand Signs and Symptoms of Poor Mental Health

Before we can support our own mental health, we need to understand what the warning signs of poor mental health are. This way, we can quickly identify and intervene when things don’t feel OK.  

Symptoms of common mental health problems, like stress and anxiety, might include: 

  • Feelings of constant worry or anxiety 
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Problems with sleep, including poor quality 
  • Changes in mood or energy levels. 

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important not to dismiss them. These could be warning signs that your mental health is being impacted. 

By acknowledging these symptoms, you become more aligned with your mental health needs and can take appropriate action. Awareness also helps in seeking professional help if necessary, ensuring that small issues don’t escalate into larger problems. 

Top tip: We’ve written a guide for instructors on group exercise and mental health. It covers the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems, tips for supporting your mental health, and where to go for support.  

Download this guide here. 

2. Prioritise Self-Care

We’re used to putting the experience of our clients first, whether that’s staying behind for a coffee with the whole class or being a shoulder to cry on when a client needs support. But it’s important to make time for yourself as well. Schedule some downtime for activities that you enjoy. These might be: 

  • Reading a new book or an old favourite 
  • Listening to a podcast 
  • Having a coffee in your favourite café 
  • Taking a long bath 
  • Going for a walk-in nature 

Whatever self-care looks like for you, designate time to make it happen. Even 10 minutes every day can make a big difference. Taking care of your own needs will help you recharge and be more present not just for your classes, but for yourself. 

3. Connect with other instructors

As group exercise instructors, we often work alone and can feel isolated at times. Walking in and out of different venues is exciting but also challenging. It’s important to connect with others in the industry who understand the unique challenges of our job. 

Consider joining an online community of fitness professionals, attending workshops or conferences, or even just reaching out to fellow instructors for a chat. EMD UK members have access to a closed Facebook group where they can network, chat, and share tips with instructors across the UK.  

Having a support system from other instructors can be incredibly valuable in reducing feelings of isolation and providing a sense of camaraderie. 

4. Get Good Sleep

Sleep is a cornerstone of good mental health. As group exercise instructors, our energy levels are key to leading enthusiastic and motivating classes. However, our demanding schedules often lead us to sacrifice our sleep for early morning classes or not be able to switch off after late evening teaching. This can potentially lead to burnout and mental health issues over time.  

After a long day of instructing, it’s vital to wind down and ensure you’re getting adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation not only leads to physical fatigue but can also make feelings of anxiety and depression worse. In contrast, good quality sleep boosts your mood, sharpens your concentration, and enhances your decision-making abilities – all of which are essential for successful instruction. 

Try to establish a consistent sleep routine – aim for at least 7-9 hours each night. Consider using relaxation techniques before bed, such as reading, meditating, or having a warm bath. Avoid exposure to screens close to bedtime as the blue light emitted can interfere with your sleep cycle. 

Top tip: We recently wrote a blog on how you can boost the quality of your sleep. Read these top tips here. 

5. Always Seek Support When Needed

There may be times when we need extra support to maintain our mental well-being. It’s essential not to shy away from seeking help when necessary. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. 

Consider talking to a trusted friend or family member or reaching out to your GP or local mental health support services. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help – it shows strength and self-awareness. 

Over to you 

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. As group exercise instructors, we need to prioritise our own mental health in order to continue providing quality care for our clients. 

We hope these five tips will help you prioritize and support your own mental well-being as a group exercise instructor. Remember, it’s not selfish – it’s necessary! 

Additional reading