There is so much talk about ‘mindset’, that the word is beginning to lose its meaning. The consistently overly-positive view of health and fitness that we see on social media channels has created unrealistic expectations of an ‘acceptable mindset’. More often than not, many people try to implement this overtly unrealistic positive outlook on life that they begin to suppress any negative thought or reaction to the world, which in turn, causes more harm than good. 

So, let’s get one thing cleared up. Even Fitness Professionals are human! A better way to exercise your mindset is by understanding types of thinking and then implementing more structured techniques to ensure cognitive health whilst progressing in your craft as a trainer or client. 

Let’s address two types of behaviours: Fixed mindset and Growth mindset.

The fixed mindset tends to believe that their perception of any given opportunity is fixed and unchangeable. This person tends to try to prove themselves through their endeavours and take failure as a setback that inevitably destroys their confidence. A common trait of this mindset is quitting or giving up on hobbies due to failure and taking these failings as a personal attack on their abilities. Do you recognise any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms in your clients?

Juxtaposed to the growth mindset that believes their own talents and abilities can be continually developed and improved over time, regardless of talent or giftedness. This mindset tends to believe that any skill can be learned, developed and mastered and any failure is a form of constructive feedback in which they use to power themselves up to improve. They will then usually explore their options, undertake learning and upskilling to challenge themselves in order to adapt and become better. 

Henry Ford was quite accurate when he said, ‘whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right’.

Dr. Carol Dweck, Stanford University Professor of Psychology is renown for her work on the mindset. She looked at how mindset can be nurtured in early childhood which will inevitably set the individual up for the mindset they will mature into. Many of her studies found that mindset can be moulded through how you communicate with another person, for instance, she found that praising someone’s intelligence or talent ruined motivation levels and lowered performance, due to it consolidating the belief that individuals did not need to keep trying as they were naturally gifted. In comparison, praising someone on their efforts, dedication and commitment seemed to enhance motivation to continue to work hard because they were praised for attribute development. This made them believe they could do more. Having said that, a person’s behaviour is determined by a myriad of factors, so let’s not get caught up in all the variables. Keep in mind that this is a general overview of what has been found most common. 

“When they believe that their intelligence is predetermined, limited and unchangeable (fixed mindset), they doubt their ability which in turn undermines their resolve, resilience and learning. But when they have a growth-mindset and believe that their abilities can be developed, students show perseverance and willingness to learn. What’s more they achieve remarkable results even in the face of hardship and difficulties.” (Yeager & Dweck, 2012) 

Reflect on how you praise and motivate your clients? Do you address their natural talents? Or do you commend them for their learned attributes?

If you have a topic that you would like me to discuss, please comment below!

Until next time,

Yours in health & fitness,

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