Holistic wellness has become a bit of a buzzword in the health and fitness industry, floating up here and there as and when needed, often misused, or taken lightly as another fad.
However, it’s so much more than just a filler term or random word indicating a new trend in the industry. It’s an entire movement and a paradigm shift in how we think about health and wellness in general, encouraging participants and trainers alike to make smarter decisions.
There’s a lot to know and understand about holistic fitness and its many facets worth discussing and dissecting to get a clear picture of it. As the fitness industry continues to evolve and grow, clients and audiences get smarter with their needs and wants, and trainers have access to more advanced information and knowledge; it only makes sense that they would want to upgrade their approach and skill set.
To better apply holistic fitness practices and what they entail, we need to develop a deeper understanding of what it is in the first place.
What exactly is holistic fitness, and how is it defined?
Holistic fitness can be defined in many ways, but perhaps the simplest way of understanding it is that it’s an approach that goes beyond the physical.
Holistic fitness, similar to holistic health, is a form of training that takes a look at the entire individual rather than focusing solely on their physical training. The goal is overall wellness that expands various areas, including improving physical fitness, mental and emotional health, and other facets of one’s health.
There’s a lot that goes into holistic fitness, which is why it’s such a gamechanger for people who adopt this lifestyle; it focuses on making you healthy from the inside out rather than at the surface level.
It’s a comprehensive approach to fitness that covers oft-neglected areas in your typical forms of training, incorporating practices to improve mental and emotional health as well as indicators of wellness like heart health, blood pressure, body weight, fat percentage, sleep, pain management, ease in depression and more.
What comes under the umbrella of holistic fitness?
Holistic fitness is a broad term that includes multiple facets and areas of focus. It’s a detailed, well-rounded approach to fitness that addresses different dimensions to improve both internal and external health while simultaneously achieving different fitness goals.
Rather than trainers offering workouts in isolation or focusing on split exercises and sets, the approach expands to what is most beneficial overall. Holistic fitness includes physical fitness, nutrition, mindset, and mindfulness coaching and takes a behavioral approach. The goal is to incorporate practices and behaviors that will benefit clients in the long run, not just in the present moment or in the short term.
The interventions and recommendations are more detailed and intense, bringing in elements of rigorous physical training, dietary adaptations, and consistent lifestyle changes that will help clients make a lasting change. Results may be slow with this process, but it’s fair to expect them to be more sustainable as well.
Holistic fitness may bring about a 180-degree change in clients. Still, it’s not necessary an overnight adjustment. It requires the dedication and expertise of multiple trainers or a professional with multiple fitness trainer certifications that teach them the ins and outs of each dimension.
Holistic fitness takes a trainer’s skill sets to the next level, giving them tools and insights to bring significant lifestyle adaptations to their clients’ lives. It’s possible to pursue this professionally by obtaining CECs and additional certifications that will allow you to pursue multiple types of training and specialties at a fraction of the cost.
How can you make your approach to fitness training more holistic?
As a trainer, it’s your job to adopt principles and practices of holistic fitness into your approach. When dealing with clients, it’s vital that you know how to address their needs and help them meet their goals without compromising their health and safety.
When it comes to your overall fitness training and programs, it’s essential to look at fitness from a wider lens, factoring in everything from your client’s current health and fitness assessment to their mobility restrictions, lifestyle habits, health conditions, and dietary needs. It cannot take a cookie-cutter approach to wellness, and neither can it neglect these very crucial aspects.
Any program you design should consider these factors, and your training sessions need an aspect of mindfulness from your end and your clients’. It also makes a difference to have a client who is deeply committed to and shares the same ideology to health because they’re more likely to stick to the program you create.
Lifestyle wellness coaching is a major aspect of this, and having a certification in it can boost your approachability and access to your clients. It works to address clients’ mental and emotional barriers and roadblocks and heavily emphasizes lifestyle adaptations rather than quick fixes. Nothing can top that closeness for a trainer and make a breakthrough with your client.
Key areas to focus on for more holistic fitness and wellness
When it comes to holistic fitness, you will have to think beyond the gym or training ground. Whether you’re a fitness trainer and professional or an enthusiast looking for more insight, holistic fitness requires greater commitment than other training methods.
It’s especially important to diversify and open up your training approach and bring more variation in it to adapt to the main aspects of holistic health and fitness, including the following:
Physical fitness is perhaps the most evident aspect of a health and wellness journey because it is one of the most foundational aspects. However, it’s also important to branch out the type of physical fitness you practice. Any good, holistic fitness program will incorporate elements of everything from cardio to strength training, combining multiple disciplines to keep various forms of movement in check. It’s not the same as randomly throwing together a cup of weight training, a teaspoon of pilates, or a dash of yoga, but rather following an exact recipe based on the goals and intended outcome.
A good trainer will be able to design a program that may have a primary focus such as strength training but bring in diverse forms of exercise such as stretching, yoga, and active rest and recovery to a regimen. Instead of focusing solely on bulking up and building muscle or leaning down and burning fat, a holistic fitness trainer will simultaneously factor in other goals and work to build a sustainable approach to overall wellness.
You cannot and should not push your clients to exert themselves and risk injuries or neglect their medical health to achieve a visual goal. The very difference between a good trainer and a bad one is knowing where to draw the line.
Holistic fitness is heavily focused on and inclusive of mental health and wellness too. You can expect to have your thinking and cognition challenged or work with clients to challenge their biases and preconceived notions of what they believe. From reorienting mental frameworks and thought processes to creating programs that challenge clients to alter their beliefs, a whole lot goes into the mental aspect of fitness. After all, many of us are trying to challenge our minds and overcome the self-limiting beliefs and thoughts we’re convinced of, and it’s difficult to do it on your own.
When training to be a mentally healthier version of yourself, you’re likely to struggle with a lot of issues, but a good trainer knows how to focus on effective mindset coaching, keeping you focused, and stimulating you mentally, so you grow and perform better than you did before.
This is important to focus on because the mind-body connection is very real and should not at all be underestimated. Our minds and bodies are more deeply than we realize and should be treated as a unit. You cannot or should not think of them as separate or neglect one for the other.
ALongside the mind and body, you also need to work on emotional health and wellbeing. Many people are guilty of suppressing their emotions or neglecting them altogether. When we are emotionally unhealthy, we tend to rely on all sorts of damaging methods and coping mechanisms, including drinking, drugs, partying, excess junk food consumption, sabotaging our physical health, and much more. It may not be obvious or apparent from the get-go, but it’s definitely something that a lot of people struggle with.
You cannot sustainably or realistically accomplish holistic wellness until you factor in emotional health. As a trainer, your job will often take on a counseling or mentorship role and capacity, helping and aiding clients through tough moments, experiences, and emotions both inside the gym and out. Many might struggle to eat right or have other issues such as depression and anxiety (refer to the section above on mental health) that make it harder for them to stick to the prescribed plan.
Emotional health can be improved through a combination of dietary, lifestyle, and fitness changes as well as other methods such as therapy and medication, which require medical intervention.
Social wellbeing may not be directly tied to fitness itself, but it is something that can’t be overlooked either. A person’s ability to form well-meaning, genuine connections and relationships with those around them is a massive factor in how you work together. Whether you’re working with them as a coach or trainer or on the other end of the spectrum as a client, until there is social health and cohesion, it’s very challenging to move ahead. It encompasses people skills, personality, outlook, and communication skills, among other qualities.
Spiritual health seems like pseudoscience or psychobabble to many, but those who know what it’s like to be spiritually stunted, feel lost or hopeless, and disconnected from anything beyond the self, know it’s an isolating experience. Spirituality isn’t the same for everyone and isn’t always tied to religiosity, but it can take different forms depending on your own beliefs and practices. Meditation, yoga, prayer, and mindfulness can all add to one’s spiritual practice and help ground those who practice them.
What are some of the ways to add holistic habits to our lifestyle?
It’s not rocket science to figure out how you can practice holistic wellness and fitness. There are many simple steps and additions such as Improving one’s diet, adding movement that conditions, working on strengthening and improving mobility, adding rest and recovery to your fitness regimen, working on mental and emotional health, and finding balance in all areas of your life. These core tenets of health and wellness may take some figuring out but are worth it once you get the hang of them.
Holistic Fitness and wellness aren’t inaccessible and should be more of the norm in health and wellness. It’s a great approach to ensure that it’s not all about aesthetics and the superficial appearance of fitness, focusing instead on one’s internal, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing as well.
If you’re interested in adopting this approach and bringing it to your practice as a certified personal trainer or to learn more about alternative methods and techniques, take a look at our fitness instructor certifications here.