Maisie is an eating disorder service coordinator currently living in Nottingham. She came to Nottingham four years ago to complete her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, and stayed to then complete a masters in Mental Health Research at the University of Nottingham. During her masters she began working at First Steps, and that’s where she still is now. Maisie shares her next adventure, creating her own business: The Mind and Body studio.
During my teenage years I struggled with disordered eating, over-exercising and depression, which I still work to keep on top of now. It was a long battle for me, and I know when I’m stressed as my old disordered eating thoughts creep back in, and I start feeling guilty about not exercising enough, or eating more than I think I should.
Fortunately, I can recognise this and use it as a warning sign to help me figure out what’s stressing me at the time. While over exercising for me was a big problem, exercising for up to four hours a day, and crying once when the physiotherapist told me I had to take a week off from exercise, having injured my knee running (an injury I still have now due to all the running I used to do), exercise is now by biggest therapy.
Exercising, be it lifting weights in the gym, attending a fitness class, going for a run, or competing in a Spartan Race, allows me to completely switch off and focus on myself, leaving the stress of the day behind. It’s also an excellent form of self-care for me, as it’s the most time I take to focus just on myself, and not worry about anyone else.
It’s the power that exercise has to support me now that has encouraged me to look into using exercise as a mental health support. Exercise has so many benefits; boosting endorphins, relieving stress, socialising, improving physical health. However, for many, particularly those with eating disorders, exercise can do more harm than good, which is why I think if exercise is going to be recommended for mental health it needs to be done so in a supportive, safe environment. Therefore, I want to create the next evolution of gym, supporting individual’s mental and physical health equally.
The Mind and Body studio will not only feature your traditional gym equipment; cardio machines, weights, mats, and group exercise classes, it will also feature mental health support; peer support sessions, counsellors, personal trainers specialised in mental health and over exercise support, and self-help groups. To allow individuals to achieve all-round wellness, in a gym not filled with jacked up guys, and girls wearing next to no clothes. It will be targeting individual’s with existing mental health problems, low self-esteem, and body image issues, those that will benefit most from bringing exercise into their lives, in a supportive environment, without competition or judgement from other members.