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What does Trauma-Informed Fitness mean?

Understanding Trauma-Informed Fitness


In the realm of fitness, being trauma-informed means recognizing the profound impact that trauma can have on an individual's physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. It's about creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment where all clients feel respected and understood, regardless of their past experiences. This approach acknowledges that trauma can affect a person's ability to engage in physical activities and their overall relationship with their body and health.





Key Principles of Trauma-Informed Fitness


1. Safety: The foundation of a trauma-informed fitness environment is safety. This includes physical safety—ensuring the workout space is secure and free from hazards—and emotional safety—creating an atmosphere where clients feel comfortable expressing their needs and concerns.


However, being trauma-informed does not mean enabling or allowing behavior that jeopardizes the well-being of others. Our priority is to maintain a community that functions harmoniously and adheres to shared guidelines, ensuring that all members feel seen, heard, and respected.


Upholding Our Values


At Empowered RX, we are dedicated to practicing empathy, inclusivity, and evidence-based fitness. Our values and guidelines are designed to create a supportive environment free from toxic dynamics. This means:


- Promoting respect and understanding among all members.

- Ensuring that everyone adheres to our community guidelines to maintain a positive and safe space.


Addressing Challenges


It is essential to understand that maintaining a trauma-informed environment requires balancing empathy with firm boundaries. This approach helps us create a space where everyone can heal, grow, and thrive without fear of harm or disruption.


2. Trustworthiness and Transparency: Building trust is crucial. Fitness professionals should be open and honest about what clients can expect during their sessions, from the exercises they'll perform to the overall goals of their training. Consistent communication helps in establishing and maintaining this trust.

3. Empowerment and Choice: Empowering clients by giving them choices and control over their fitness routines is essential. This can involve offering modifications for exercises, allowing clients to set their own pace, and encouraging them to listen to their bodies and make decisions that feel right for them. At the same time some people have strained relationships with exercise and a history of disordered eating or mental health conditions making it hard for many members to make their own choices. Our goal is to always give clients as much autonomy in a safe way. This means we often collaborate with treatment teams (Doctors, Therapists, RDs and more) to ensure continuity of care and safety in mind & body.


4. Collaboration: Working collaboratively with clients fosters a sense of partnership and mutual respect. This can include setting goals together, discussing preferences, and being receptive to feedback. Collaboration helps clients feel valued and invested in their fitness journey. As mentioned above, Treatment Team collaboration occurs often and benefits the client in numerous ways. It also allows us to stay within our scope of practice.


5. Cultural Humility: Understanding and respecting the diverse backgrounds and experiences of clients is a vital aspect of being trauma-informed. Fitness professionals should be aware of and sensitive to cultural differences and how these might influence a client's experience and needs.


Integrating Nervous System Regulation, Embodiment, and Proprioception


1. Nervous System Regulation: Trauma can leave individuals in a state of heightened arousal or chronic stress, making it difficult for them to feel safe and present. Incorporating practices such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, and gentle movement can help regulate the nervous system. For example, starting a session with a few minutes of guided breathwork can help clients transition from their day into their workout, promoting a sense of calm and focus. We also have created Empowered Mindfulness Weightlifting, which is a protocol for connecting mind, body and breath with a barbell in ones hands. Meditation and yoga are not everyone’s coffee tea. This is another way to connect and tune inwards.


2. Embodiment: Trauma often causes disconnection from the body, making it challenging for individuals to feel fully present in their movements. Encouraging clients to engage in activities that promote embodiment, such as mindful movement or body scans, can help them reconnect with their bodies. Simple practices like asking clients to notice the sensations in their feet as they move or to feel the weight of their body on the mat can foster a greater sense of embodiment.


3. Proprioception: Trauma can affect proprioception, the sense of where one's body is in space. This can lead to difficulties with coordination and balance. Exercises that enhance proprioception, such as balance training, resistance work, and activities that require body awareness, can be beneficial. For instance, incorporating balance exercises on unstable surfaces or using resistance bands to provide feedback can help improve proprioceptive awareness and coordination.


The Impact of Trauma-Informed Fitness


Trauma-informed fitness can have profound benefits for clients. It can help them rebuild trust in their bodies, increase their sense of agency, and enhance their overall well-being. For many, the fitness space becomes a place of healing and empowerment, where they can develop a positive relationship with exercise and their bodies.


Implementing Trauma-Informed Practices


1. Education and Training: Fitness professionals should seek out training on trauma and its effects. This knowledge is essential for understanding how trauma might manifest in clients and how to respond appropriately. In addition to schooling in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition our trainers have certificates related to trauma-informed movement. We love the Trauma-Informed Weightliftng Cert through the Center for Trauma and Embodiment.


2. Creating a Welcoming Environment: Small changes, such as using inclusive language, being mindful of physical touch, and ensuring the space is welcoming and non-intimidating, can make a big difference.


3. Individualized Approaches: Recognize that each client's experience with trauma is unique. Tailoring fitness programs to meet individual needs and being flexible in your approach is crucial.


4. Building a Supportive Community: Fostering a sense of community and support among clients can enhance their experience. Group classes and social activities can help clients

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