The concept behind trauma informed personal training is pretty simple: it just means approaching fitness in a way that is sensitive to the fact that you may have experienced trauma. Personally, I just assume that nearly everyone I come in contact with has experienced some type of trauma. Estimates indicate that about half of adults have experienced childhood abuse, whether physical, emotional, or sexual. People experience may kinds of trauma, ranging from abuse, traumatic loss, accidents, disasters, work or battle related trauma, illness, assault, and innumerable others. When we consider all of these many kinds of trauma, you can see why I just assume everyone has survived something.
For survivors of trauma, it can be difficult to regain a sense of control and self determination. One way to help clients regain that sense of control in workouts is giving choices. I will often give my clients options during workouts. This is partially just to be responsive to their needs, and help them to listen to their bodies, but it is also good trauma informed practice.
Another thing that can be difficult after surviving a traumatic event is experiencing symptoms of dissociation, depersonalization, or derealization. This triad of "de" symptoms can be experienced as feeling far away from yourself, disconnected from your body, or even feeling like a fake person, or like reality isn't real. These are not delusions, but symptoms that are a reaction to the shock and horror of a traumatic experience. It may sound far-fetched to suggest that working out can help address these symptoms, but mindfully moving your body, with particular attention to the sensations that arise as you move through a range of motion can be a powerful tool to foster a sense of connection to your own body and to the current moment. In short, mindful movement can get you snapped back into your body and into reality.
Something you will find different about working with a trauma informed trainer as compared to some other personal trainers is that I am not going to push you past your limits. If you say you're done after a few rounds of a movement or circuit, I'm not going to press that. You know your body better than I do, and I won't force you to keep going if you say you're done. Please don't read that and assume that means I won't challenge you. I develop a good communication with my clients so that I can tell the difference between tired and DONE. Having the power to reestablish boundaries around your body can be profoundly healing for trauma survivors who have had their bodily autonomy violated.
Trauma informed training can still be challenging, and can still push you to your limits. I just approach training from a foundational belief that you know your body better than everyone, particularly since you live in it full time!
Mom in charge at Enlighten Well. I do body positive fitness, intuitive eating, and whatever else I feel called to do. Get to know me here.