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Recap: Mental Health for Fitness Pros


On August 26, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 21st installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included Meridan Zerner, a Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and certified wellness coach; Lynne Brick, the president of Planet Fitness Growth Partners and co-founder of the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation; Victor Brick, the DOM of Planet Fitness Growth Partners and co-founder of the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation; Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness; and Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM and owner of WORX health clubs. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the interim president and CEO of IHRSA and chair of REX Roundtables.

The following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on addressing mental health issues in the industry:


  • Dr. George Everly, PhD developed a graph to demonstrate the public’s psychological reactions to crises and disasters (see the image above).
  • According to Dr. Everly’s graph, society hasn’t hit its rock bottom in the pandemic. It’s everyone’s job to ensure the “valley of disillusionment” doesn’t get deeper — the quicker we hit rock bottom, the quicker we can start to recover mentally and emotionally.
  • It’s important to remember you, as an individual, have been in tough spots before and have made it to the other side. Lean on the tools that have gotten you through in the past.
  • 62% of Americans have reportedly been highly stressed in recent months.
  • Pre-pandemic, an estimated 27% of Americans suffer from some sort of mental illness — that number is now just over 40%. And 37% of people suffering from a severe mental illness don’t seek help.
  • Exercising — working out hard, even — is a great way to help deal with stress and anxiety. It’s important to find something in your day you can control. This is a starting point for more healthy thinking.
  • The general public is dealing with the pandemic in unhealthy ways. One in six people in the U.S. are taking some type of anxiety medication, and alcohol-related hospitalizations are on the rise.
  • Based on life experiences, physiology and psychology, people constantly move up and down a continuum from poor mental health to positive mental health. At some point in their lives, every person will experience poor mental health in some fashion. During the pandemic, everyone’s mental health has taken a hit, making it more important than ever to prioritize self-care.
  • This is an important time to have conversations about your mental wellness.
  • There’s no shame in using medication to help your mental health — it’s not the first and only solution at all times, but it can be necessary to balance the chemistry in someone’s body.
  • Exercising puts your body through positive stress, making you stronger — physically and mentally.
  • Find resources online that give you insights on well-being and positive thinking.
  • Mindfulness practices are extremely helpful — anything from yoga and stretching to stepping back and recognizing unusual, stress-induced behaviors can help with your mental well-being.
  • Tracking your mood and mental health on a daily basis is critical. The decline in your mental health is gradual, and happens when you don’t keep an eye on yourself for an extended period of time.
  • There are several resources for mental health in a crisis:
  • Many people have a greater fear of loss than hope of gain, and in the current condition, that fear of loss has been amplified.
  • Routines are very beneficial for maintaining positive mental health — on a personal level and for your employees.
  • It’s important to have peer groups to encourage you and for you to be an encouragement to others. Reaching out to someone and helping them — making their day better — will likely make you feel better in turn.
  • Certain, even subtle, changes in your diet can help adjust your body’s response to stress and enable you to better manage anxiety.
  • Laughter is the best medicine — try incorporating a joke of the day or funny story into meetings with your employees and teammates.
  • Your staff will appreciate vulnerability — if you’re having a bad day, tell someone.
  • In the coming months, remember these three things: 
    • Be present and aware of your health and well-being, as well as in tune with your staff’s well-being.
    • Be empathetic — everyone has their own story.
    • You’re never alone.

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here.

To access the audio-only version of this webinar, click here.

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 22nd installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: The Opportunity in Virtual Fitness” on Wednesday, September 2 at 2 p.m. EST. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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