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A guideline for gyms and trainers welcoming returning clients in the face of the pandemic

With gym doors finally opening after two months being forced to close, trainers and gym goers are rejoicing. We can finally swap our 2L milk bottles filled with water for real weights!

COVID-19 has created an environment in which eating disorders unfortunately thrive. This is because of social isolation, need for control in uncertain times and daily life that makes is easier to hide disordered behaviours.

This is also a time as a health professional to be aware of your clients needs specifically those with disordered eating and clinically diagnosed eating disorders. The problem is that it can be difficult to identify and is unlikely your clients will be forthcoming with such personal information.

As a trainer you know all too well the benefits of physical activity and there is good evidence for your role to play a crucial part however, we need to make sure your clients are safe mentally and also physically.

- Low blood pressure

- Anaemia

- Increased risk of bone fractures

- Amenorrhea (absent menstruation) or Oligomenorrhea  (infrequent menstruation)

- Cavities, gum disease, tooth enamel erosion, sensitivity to hot & cold

- Constipation, diarrhoea, cramps,

bloating, bowel problems

- Calluses on knuckles

It is common for individuals to display some but not all signs as disordered eating behaviours vary. And because one symptom is identified doesn’t mean that person has an eating disorder.

So, how can we help in the gym?

1. All trainers and gym owners to familiarise themselves with the guidelines (Eating Disorders: Recommendations for the Fitness Industry)

2. Support a healthy and inclusive environment

3. Recognise warning signs and refer appropriately

4. Identify suitable referral processes for higher risk clients

5. Support recovery in collaboration and maintain best practise

Written by Sarah Why, Accreditied Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist and owner of The Good Food Clinic. Part of Sarah's skill set allows her to work in the specilaised area of Eating Disorder management and recovery. She is passionate in increasing the communities awareness of disordered eating and eating disorders.


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