Photo credit: Peloton
With over 51 million people in the U.S. experiencing mental health symptoms, it is important for counselors to share ways to help people experience relief year round.
In addition to counseling, many people use exercise as a form of self-care and symptom management. Unfortunately, the pandemic interrupted fitness routines, forcing people to exercise at home or outdoors. While some individuals and businesses scrambled to figure out new routines, Peloton, the latest worldwide fitness craze, stepped up and taught people ways to experience fitness and wellness during a very turbulent time.
The popularity of Peloton has grown exponentially over the last few years and the company experienced significant growth during the pandemic. No company is without controversy, yet Peloton worked to create appeal to an international audience and to people from a wide range of fitness levels, social perspectives, and learning styles. As a former group fitness instructor and currently licensed counselor specializing in sport & exercise, I was impressed with Peloton’s reach and techniques to help people feel better physically and psychologically. With this in mind, I wanted to share five things that Peloton can teach us about mental health.
Peloton teaches us that we can plan out our exercise so that we can focus on success. Their programs help people take the guesswork out of fitness planning.
Similarly, counselors work with people to create individualized plans to help them reach their goals. Having a goal helps people focus on their emotional development without the need to figure out a plan on their own.
It is fun and motivating to see others enjoying their exercise plans. It helps people gain interest in working on their own exercise and wellness goals. When browsing social media, it’s impossible to miss posts about people’s workouts. Nowadays, we also see more posts about people’s experiences with counselors. Campaigns such as Mental Health America’s “Fight in the Open” encourage people to share their mental health successes as ways to encourage others to reach out for help, too.
Some people want physiological cues during exercise classes, others want a motivational speech. Peloton teaches us there is room for different learning styles and one style is not better than others. Just like people have a favorite Peloton instructor, they also have their favorite counselor. Counselors use theoretical orientations to guide their practice. It is ok for you to talk with multiple counselors to see who is the best fit for you. Counselors are open to hearing about your ways of learning to help you identify strengths and
live your best life.
Trying different kinds of exercise (such as cycle, tread, yoga, Pilates, strength, cardio, and meditation) can help us learn new ways to exercise our bodies and minds. Counseling interventions vary as much as physical exercises, and you can try different techniques to gain insight into the effectiveness of your thoughts and emotions, such as art therapy, music therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, wilderness therapy, and psychodynamic interventions. Ask your counselor about different and creative ways to help you reach your goals.
Peloton teaches us to be kind to ourselves and to use a positive mindset to boost confidence. Counseling teaches us ways to use self-talk to enhance our sense of wellbeing, build confidence, and to recognize the successes we have each day. While it is important to understand our problems from multiple perspectives, it is equally important to see positive aspects of life by recognizing the ways we talk to ourselves.
I believe there is a strong connection between our minds and bodies and am hopeful that public conversations about mental health and wellbeing continue to be at the forefront of many people’s minds. Some Peloton instructors, like Becs Gentry and Kendall Toole, discuss their challenges and how they overcome roadblocks. In an Ali on the Run Podcast episode, Becs talked about how she works to build confidence and finds psychological strength to move through tough segments of her runs. Additionally, Kendall Toole advocates for mental health awareness and encourages people to mindfully experience their emotions and to use music as one way to enhance moods. We can learn a lot from each other the more we listen with compassion and encourage each other to live fully and peacefully.