Mental Health Awareness Week: How to get moving with Better

A good exercise routine can work wonders for our overall wellbeing. That’s why this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is all about movement. Do you need to run an ultra-marathon every morning? Not quite. Even just a dance around your living room is enough to exercise your mind as well as your body. But just how essential is fitness to our mental health? The Mix joins forces with Better Gym for Mental Health Awareness Week to get some answers (and a free four-month membership for The Mix subscribers too!)

A group of young people practice a dance routine in a sports hall

Anna Slorach, is Assistant General Manager at Better’s Kings Cross Fitness centre in London.  She is a Level 2 Fitness Instructor, Level 3 in Personal Training, Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor and Level 1 Mat Pilates Instructor.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Anna. Why does fitness matter to you?

Keeping fit has always been part of my life. When I was younger, I trained as a dancer in musical theatre and spent several years performing on cruise ships across the world. Keeping your body fit and strong is an essential part of being a professional dancer if you want to avoid injury and keep working.

As I got older, I didn’t want to spend so much time travelling so I settled in London and started teaching classes in barre work, Pilates and spinning which I also loved. I heard about the new fitness centre opening in Kings Cross and was thrilled to be able to join the team and develop my skills in management.

What’s the connection between regular exercise and improved wellbeing and lowered stress levels?

Taking the time to do some form of exercise gives you the chance to focus on your body and the activity without being distracted. No matter how stressed you are in everyday life, taking a class, going for a run or playing sport allows you to step away from your problems for a short while. It can help you cool down and perhaps gain a different perspective. Exercise is also a great way to release energy and frustration – and as we’ve all heard many times, it releases endorphins, those cheeky, feel-good chemicals!

What small steps could someone take towards developing a more active lifestyle?

Working out in the gym or going along to a class might be daunting for some people at first but you can start with any kind of movement – you could go for a walk, listen to some music while you do housework or take the dog for a walk. In fact, music is a huge motivator – create your own playlist, stick your headphones on and the time will fly past! If you want to try a new activity, get a friend to go with you at first to build your confidence.

Are there specific types of exercise or workouts that are especially good for wellbeing?

Any kind of physical activity is good for you but it’s important to find something you enjoy. Be brave and try something new and don’t let perfectionism be a barrier. I recently tried Padel tennis for the first time and I was rubbish at it but I had such a lot of fun – I’ll definitely do it again! Fitness isn’t the only reason for taking exercise. I wish I’d had more interest in sport when I was younger but sadly, when I was growing up, it wasn’t cool.

How do mindfulness, yoga and meditation help with wellbeing?

Yoga is very grounding and because you focus on your breathing along with movement, it’s also a meditative and mindful way to get fit. The spiritual aspect of being grateful for your body and the fact that you are able to move is also very positive – it’s a way of celebrating yourself.

Can you share any success stories of working with young clients?

I remember one young woman when I was teaching barre work who must have been in her early twenties. She was very timid and self-conscious and I could tell it wasn’t easy for her to come to the classes. We used to chat a little bit at the start of the lesson and she confided that she had a lot of family troubles and suffered from an eating disorder.

After a couple of years, the change in her was amazing – she was almost a completely different person. She realised that she needed to eat properly if she wanted to do the classes so she learned to listen to her body. But it wasn’t just the exercise that helped – it was also the sense of community and the ‘safe space’ that the classes provided. She found her confidence and learned to love herself. 

Free Better Flex Membership

In the spirit of movement for Mental Health Awareness Week, Better are offering The Mix subscribers between the ages of 16-25 years old a FREE four-month membership. Whether it’s gym, swim or pilates – there’s something for everyone with over 240 Better leisure centres to choose from. To sign up, follow the link below:

Sign up for your free four-month membership here

(Offer ends 30th June 2024)

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Updated on 15-May-2024

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