“As an elite athlete, you are expected to get the job done but not everyone understands the toll this can have on your mind.”
F45 Challenge x Cheatcode Foundation
Athletes competing to be the best in the world develop a level of toughness that drives them to excel at a young age. However, what many of us don’t see is the inevitable pressure that comes with having to perform on a consistent basis. Slipping on the blocks at the Olympics or missing a penalty shot at the World Cup, for example, could mean losing a medal, a title, or a team position. In recent years, more athletes have spoken out about their mental health challenges throughout their professional career. These shared experiences have not only increased mental health awareness around the world but have also taught us the importance of practicing mental fitness. Just as we take care of our physical health through exercise and nutrition, checking-in on our mental health is a key component of optimizing holistic well-being. This F45 Challenge (C33) we’ve partnered with the Cheatcode Foundation — a non-profit organization working with world class athletes to increase the accessibility of mental health services across the US. You can support the Cheatcode foundation for this Challenge by joining Team Cristina (F45 Ambassador) and checking in at your local F45 studio. For every Team Cristina studio check-in, F45 HQ provides a charitable contribution to the Cheatcode foundation. To learn more about participating in the next F45 Challenge, find your local F45 studio.
How to Practice Mental Fitness
As we enter the final phase of Challenge 33, it’s important to spend some time reflecting on your Challenge goal, training progress, and emotional state (including your level of motivation)! Oftentimes it’s easy to get caught up in striving to be better that we forget to prioritize recovery and self-care. Putting too much focus on reaching a goal can create a great deal of emotional stress and pressure that has the potential to cause mental fatigue. Practicing mental fitness means acknowledging changes in our emotional state while working towards our goals, and is important in helping us avoid burnout. We spoke to Cheatcode Ambassador and soccer player Amobi Okugo about his mental fitness routine and how it has helped him overcome many of the pressures that come with competing at the elite level. Amobi has played at the top level in the MLS and the USL and now currently plays for Austin Bold FC.
“I didn’t fully comprehend how important mental health was until I was well into my professional career. When competing at the highest level, there is always another player trying to take your position on the team. While your organization may value you, it’s also a business. They wouldn’t be doing their job to make the team stronger if they weren’t always on the lookout for other skilled players. Every athlete struggles with mental health in some capacity throughout their career — from battling injuries to dealing with criticism after poor performance. When I was recovering from an injury, the thought of potentially re-injuring myself and wasting all the time I’d dedicated to rehabilitation caused a ton of anxiety and fear. When it comes to overcoming mental challenges like this, the first step is to recognize these emotions as opposed to ignoring them. By acknowledging negative emotional triggers we automatically become more self-aware. This allows us to develop strategies such as reflecting on positive feedback in order to shift away from a negative mindset. More often than not we put so much energy and emotion into being the best that we lose the meaning of why we set goals for ourselves in the first place.”-Amobi Okugo
Mastering a Mental Fitness Routine
Developing a mental fitness routine is one of the best ways to increase self-awareness and boost confidence. F45 Nutritionist Kim Bowman has a few strategies to help you get started.
- Reflect on your Challenge progress and remind yourself why you set your fitness goal from the beginning.
- Visualize one thing you want to accomplish/achieve before each workout.
- Compliment yourself by acknowledging positive experiences that occurred throughout the week or writing out positive feedback from others in a journal.
- Meditation & Breath Work are scientifically supported as excellent methods for relieving anxious or stressed feelings. Even just 5 to 10 minutes of meditation or breath work can improve focus and ease anxious thoughts.
Amobi Okugo is a professional soccer player, Cheatcode ambassador, entrepreneur, media host, and philanthropist recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient. He was drafted in the first round of the 2010 MLS super draft and has since played over 200 competitive games for teams including Philadelphia, Orlando, Kansas City, Portland, and Austin.