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Using Language to Overcome Self-Limiting Beliefs in Health & Fitness Classes

Parkour-based fall preparedness class at a senior living facility

I stepped into the local senior center to teach a class and I was met with self-deprecating remarks from some of the participants. They were telling me how “bad” their balance is. Keeping in mind, Dr. Becca Levy’s research showing the profound impact beliefs have on physical performance and health, I decided to pause the class and proposed a shift in perspective.

Rather than resigning themselves to a narrative of having “bad balance,”I proposed re-framing their beliefs with more positive language such as “I’m here to improve my balance” or “balance presents a challenge.” Challenges can be overcome and they present an opportunity for growth. By adopting more empowering language, they can start shifting their mindset.

It’s imperative for us as fitness professionals to tune into the language our participants are using as it reflects their underlying beliefs about their potential.

When individuals approach us with self-limiting beliefs, labeling themselves as “bad” at certain activities, we can intervene and offer a shift in perspective. By re-framing their beliefs and instilling confidence in their abilities, we can pave the way for growth. This involves introducing new, slightly challenging, and engaging activities that challenge preconceived notions of capability.

Each small victory becomes a stepping stone toward greater self-belief and confidence. By demonstrating our faith in their potential and gradually expanding their comfort zones, we empower them to surpass their own expectations. This journey of self-discovery and empowerment is not just a win for us as fitness professionals, but a victory for our participants.

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