Did I tell you about that time I stopped training for six months and it destroyed my mental health?

Training To Improve Your Mental Health

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

5 min read

Hey, it’s Russ.

I used to write new articles every week, and then I stopped.


Truthfully, it’s because I was struggling with my mental health.

It’s the first time it’s ever happened in my life, and it hit me like a brick up the butt!

I struggled to focus.

I pulled out of family engagements.

I simply didn’t feel like myself anymore.

And perhaps the weirdest/most frustrating part of it all is that I had no idea why it happened.

(Until my girlfriend showed me where I fucked up.)

You see, I absolutely love what I do. I enjoy creating programs, and seeing pictures of you guys using those programs in your local gyms, and getting tagged in posts where you’re showing off the results you have earned from them… so it made no sense to me why I suddenly transformed from wanting to teach people everything I know about losing weight and building muscle, to feeling like I had nothing to say.

Crazy, right?

My girlfriend Sally pinpointed the issue – a lack of social interaction.

You see, there was a lot of upheaval at home last year. I had closed my personal training business after 21 years. This enabled my partner to get back to her career by landing a job she’d waited years for, meanwhile I could focus on beefing up russhowepti.com on a full-time basis and take care of our kids.

I was not expecting how hard this change would hit me at all.

But when Sally explained that I was missing social interaction, it made perfect sense; the last two decades had been filled with encouraging back-slaps and shrieks of pain in busy gyms, but suddenly I was alone all day. My schedule consisted of taking the kids to school, cleaning our home, then sitting at my laptop working until they came back. It’s no wonder I felt más desubicado que chupete en el culo.

Oh, and then there was this monumental fuck up…

You remember my newest e-mail, in which I told a story about how I took six months off the gym because I was “too busy to train”?

Yep. That.

I barely left the house for six months.

Sure, I got a stack of work done, and I love that you guys enjoy using this beast of a website, but in taking all this time off I actually made my own situation worse. I’d stupidly dropped the main thing I enjoy doing (lifting weights), and simultaneously erased what is perhaps the only bit of social interaction I get nowadays!

I guess all those brief moments of trying to maintain eye contact as you say “Hi bro” to the guy who’s always bottom-half-naked when you walk into the changing room, and the hours I spent yelling at people to “Fucking lift it!” were just as important to me as they were to the client.

As soon as I re-introduced fitness into my daily schedule I started to feel better (once I got over the fact that I wasn’t as ripped as I used to be!). It’s a journey which sucked at times, but one which I’m glad I took, because it educated me on things which I had no prior experience with, and here we are one year later, I’m back to teaching people everything I know about losing weight and building muscle.

Case closed.

Which brings me to the crux of this article:

Training can be just as important for what’s on the inside as what’s on the outside.

In a study published by the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine back in 2010, researchers showed that partaking in regular strength training can lead to significant improvements in brain cognition, higher self esteem, and a reduction in anxiety. Amazingly, the benefits of regular social interaction are almost identical. (1, 2)

This makes your daily trip to the gym even more important than you already thought it was!

Because while the physical benefits will differ depending upon what you’re training for (i.e. some of you will be focusing on fat loss, building muscle, gaining strength, or improving athletic performance), the one thing we can ALL take advantage of is the mental health benefits which are provided by regular exercise and social interaction at your local gym.

So if I can give you one piece of advice today, it’s this:

Prioritize your “me time” in the gym.

Seriously, don’t feel guilty about spending time working on yourself, because in doing so, you become much better for the people you love.

And finally, no matter what you’re dealing with right now, whether you’re having a tough day at work, or you’ve got a family member who thinks you’re gonna quit your diet and re-gain all the weight you lost, I want you to remember this:

In your pocket is a device, and on that device is a message from a personal trainer who has worked with over 100,000 people, and he thinks you’ve fucking got this.

Now go lift something heavy (and I promise I will too!),


  1. Herring M. P., et al. Mental health benefits of strength training in adults. Am J Lifestyle Med (2010).
  2. Umberson D., et al. Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. J Health Soc Behav (2010).

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Get More From Russ!


I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

One response to “Training To Improve Your Mental Health”

  1. Ruby avatar

    Training helped me a lot with my own mental health that’s for sure

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