Personal Training Sports Performance Hypnotherapy

Sports performance: The importance of mind fitness

Written by Nat Young – Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga Teacher

Sports performance hypnotherapy
Nat Young, 2013

This is a picture of me after finishing the second leg of my first triathlon. It was a double super sprint distance – one super sprint triathlon in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon. It was also perhaps the scariest event I’ve ever taken part in due to the open water swim. I had only ever swam in open water once and that was about a week before the event (I won a place on the event the week before, so basically went into the event with no specific tri training!) 

It’s amazing how much we can achieve with sheer determination but one thing’s for certain – I couldn’t have got through it without Nick’s coaching support in the week leading up to the event. The ability to provide this kind of support isn’t easily learned but Nick is a natural coach at heart. This is what makes him a fantastic Personal Trainer!

Mind challenges

While competing, I also gained a huge appreciation for the mind challenges you experience, especially when you don’t feel prepared for your event. I’d taken part in several running events before the tri and had been lucky enough to have the time to physically prepare for all of them. This event therefore felt very different – I had one week to get ready. Being something new that I had never done before, I was already feeling outside of my comfort zone. Then there were all the ‘monkey chatter’ thoughts over whether I was up to the challenge and whether I’d made a mistake by choosing to compete with no specific training. My determination combined with Nick’s coaching got me through that. Then there were the thoughts I had as I was competing – with Nick watching from the sidelines, dealing with these was all down to me. ‘That person is in front of me – I need to beat them’, ‘Argghh why can’t I swim as fast as everyone else?’ , ‘My legs hurt’, ‘I feel sick’, ‘It’s really hot’, ‘Oh crap I’m hungry’. You get the idea…

Mental preparation

While I now have training in sports performance hypnotherapy and understand the science behind mind fitness, no amount of experiential training is a substitute for the experience you gain out there, experiencing those mental challenges for yourself. The whole experience taught me that mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation, if not more so. Without it, I don’t think I would have got over the finish line.

Get in touch

If you’re looking for a Personal Trainer or sports performance hypnotherapist to support you through your next fitness challenge (especially if that challenge is overcoming the barriers to get started), please get in contact so we can have an informal chat about how we can help you meet your goals. We can help you #getmindandbodyfit!

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The Strength of the Human Spirit

Written by Nick Young – Personal Trainer.

What a weekend for sport! We had the cricket world cup where England won by the slimmest of margins. We had Wimbledon, where Djokovic won the men’s singles in a thrilling finale, again by very slim margins. And we had a Lewis Hamilton victory at Silverstone, where victory was decided by the timing of a safety car.

On a personal level I was delighted to help out Natalie this weekend at base camp for @racetothestones – a 100km trail run  along the Ridgeway, the oldest path in  the UK – where she was providing a much needed and welcome yoga based stretching programme for the entrants at the end of day one. And what an experience that was!

One thing jumped out at me in this very difficult event where I meandered and talked to some of the participants. There were young and old, male and female, supremely fit athletes looking for a personal best and relative beginners doing it for a good cause alike taking part, but with a shared sense of destiny and achievement. I was in awe of these competitors, and their ability and determinedness to work through their pain and tiredness to achieve the goal they had set out.


What do all these winning people have in common? Well I think there’s a couple of things. The first thing is belief. As humans, we are all capable of way more than we think we are, we just have to believe in ourselves. Whether you’re a sportsperson taking part in your first or 100th event, or even in the business world or any other part of your life, with the right mental attitude and preparation you will be better at it.

That’s one of the things that elevate Lewis Hamilton or Novak Djokovic above the rest. As a personal trainer I of course know the science behind improving your performance or physical wellbeing. But a much harder nut to crack is the self-belief that you can do it.

Supporting roles

The second thing is the support they have built around themselves. Take a look at any top sporting star and it’s clear they haven’t achieved their goals alone. They have family, coaches, physios, nutritionists and many more among their entourage. These supporting individuals have a hugely important part to play in the success of these top stars.

That’s where I come in as a supporting player in your success. We may not all be sporting superstars, but we are all amazing in our own way. Using various tools such as coaching, goal setting and targeted sports performance hypnotherapy with Natalie, it is my privilege to work with you to bring out the best in you, to help you gain that self-belief and physical fitness that will elevate you beyond what you thought possible.

Any personal trainer (including me!) can come along and give you lots of exercises to do which will make you tired, and may make you stronger and fitter, at least in the short term. But as you can see, the fitness aspect is only one part of achieving your goals. Let’s work on those goals together.

For more information on personal training or personal coaching, click here or contact us for an informal chat.

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Facing fears: physical and mental challenges

Written by Nat Young – Yoga Teacher and Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist.

I feel very apprehensive about posting this but I’m doing so because I know so many people struggle and I want to show you all that I struggle too – you are not alone! Struggles can be both physical and emotional. I think my struggle is mainly emotional and it’s based on fear.

As a yoga teacher I feel I should be able to do a headstand. Guess what? After over 10 years of yoga practice, I’m not there yet! This photo is my best attempt at a headstand so far and it was taken a couple of months ago. I know I have the physical strength to hold my bodyweight on my arms, so I’m convinced my challenge is a mental one.

While I’m quite scared of headstands, I know if I keep practicing I’ll get there eventually. I just need to face my fear! This mindset applies to so many challenges that we face in life. Whether it’s yoga poses we think we can’t do, races we think we can’t run or emotional struggles such as anxiety and stress that we think we’ll never beat. As scary as it sounds, the key is to face your fear!

What struggles would you like to overcome?

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Hypnotherapy for performance anxiety: Feel the fear and do it anyway!

This article is focused on start-line anxiety in runners, however, the explanation applies to all types of performance anxiety.

Imagine this: you’re getting ready for your first race. Your heart is racing and you’re sweating as you watch everyone line up at the start line. Are you going to be able to face your fear and race your heart out? Or are you going to sit this one out and miss out on what could be a personal best? Many people will turn the other way, missing out on a wonderful experience. The same sequence of events can also come up in other areas of life from work to relationships. You then have a choice to make: overcome your anxiety, or let it control everything you do (or don’t do).

One of the most common feelings in life is that of feeling uneasy when in unknown situations. Indeed, one of the most common reactions to anxiety is avoidance of situations where you find yourself feeling this way. This avoidance is a form of self-sabotage. Have you ever walked away from something important because it just felt ‘too hard’? This is what we’re talking about.

Although understanding the cause of your anxiety is important, the best way to overcome it is to look at how you respond to your fears. Sometimes the way we respond to fears can even feed fears and make them worse! By identifying how you respond to anxiety and working to change your counterproductive responses, you can overcome your anxiety and accomplish your goals.

The psychological explanation

An important element of psychology when it comes to fear and avoidance is something called ‘negative reinforcement’. This refers to behaviours which are rewarded because they remove unwanted feelings or stimuli. For example, when I have my car headlights on at night, an alarm goes off when I open my door to remind me to turn the lights off. That beeping is so annoying so to get it to stop, I turn off the lights. Doing so ends the beeping and peace is restored. In this situation the beeping is negatively reinforcing me to turn the lights off. It is rewarding me by removing the annoying noise, and the next time I use my headlights I’m more likely to turn the lights off before I open my door to avoid it.

Negative reinforcement in anxiety is avoidance. Each time you attempt to accomplish a goal but let fear stop you from achieving it, you are negatively reinforcing yourself and sabotaging your goals so you don’t have to feel fearful anymore! The more you avoid anxious situations, the more likely you are to avoid future anxiety-inducing situations and this becomes a vicious circle.

So what can you do to help yourself?

So how do you overcome avoidance behaviour and accomplish your goals? The answer is to catch yourself in the moment. Once you realise that you are avoiding anxiety, the next step is to force yourself to face your fear and see the situation through. Even if the situation doesn’t quite work out the way you hoped, mistakes can provide a valuable learning experience. It’s also important to remember that overcoming avoidance takes practice but with perseverance your anxiety may disappear altogether. The more you face those fears, the easier it will be to handle new ones, and the more goals you will accomplish!

Need help with performance anxiety? 

We offer hypnotherapy and psychotherapy for anxiety. If you would like some help, why not get in touch?

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Hypnotherapy for confidence and self-esteem

Acceptance of where you are at a moment in time is important for mind fitness. However, you also need to challenge yourself for change to happen. Many people benchmark themselves against other people rather than looking inwards to identify what needs to change to be more successful. This mindset can be troublesome as we then become reliant on other people to validate our self-worth. This can leads to issues with confidence and self-esteem.

Why comparing yourself with others can be counterproductive

There’s certainly nothing wrong with looking to other people to inspire you. If you’re a competitive athlete or working towards a particularly challenging goal, having a role model to look at is often useful. However, solely focusing on being better than someone else isn’t always helpful to your self-esteem. Perhaps you’ve begun to think you’re falling short? Instead, let’s reframe the situation – why not focus on you?

Set a ‘stretch’ goal

Here’s a fitness-related example of how you could focus on yourself rather than comparing yourself to others.

Set small, achievable goals focusing on what you want to change. It could be as simple as aiming to run an extra 30 seconds, cycling your usual route a minute faster, or maybe swimming an extra length. Secondly, when taking part in an activity you want to improve, practice positive ‘self-talk’. For example, you could say “C’mon, you can do it!” The more this is practiced, the easier it becomes. Your brain is like a muscle and it needs to practice a different way of thinking to get better at it. Your changes might not be achieved overnight but sometimes the smallest changes in your thought patterns can yield the biggest results. Especially when you look back and see where you’ve come from!

Challenging yourself to be better than you rather than other people puts the control of your destiny back into your own hands. The problem with always comparing yourself to others is that you can start to believe you are not good enough. You are good enough. So why not focus on identifying some of your strengths and reframe how you’re going to achieve your goals?

“When taking part in an activity you want to improve, practice positive self-talk”

Need a break?

It’s also helpful to recognise when you’re feeling tired and need to give yourself a break! How you handle setbacks is also important when it comes to improving your self-esteem.

Get in touch

If you would like some help with confidence and self-esteem issues, get in touch.