Chris Feather, founder of 98 Gym is our first guest for mental health month. The former rugby league player has an enduring passion for fitness and competitive grit which has seen his success both on and off the field. Chris’s philosophy consists of a breed of hard work, mental strength and willingness to suffer. He talks us through how the fitness industry aligns with mental health and all the benefits that come with training and testing your ability.

What effect has working in the fitness industry had on your mental health and wellbeing?

Ha! This is a good one… The last 2 years have been testing. 

Seriously though, it enables me to train daily alongside like minded people, push myself and reach my full potential both physically and mentally. The big picture; I think this makes me a better Husband and Dad which is my main goal and priority. Helping other people do the same also gives me extreme job satisfaction. 

What benefits does exercise and training have on mental health?

Exercising and training releases endorphins which increase your general mood. I’m also a big believer in capability breeding confidence, the fitter and stronger you become the more confident you will feel. I also use training to ‘clear my head.’ By exercising daily, this helps me make better decisions. As I said before, my goal is to be fit for my family. If I feel fit I feel like I’m an overall better person in general. I also believe it’s important to regularly test your ability, you won’t know what you are capable of if you don’t test yourself. 

How long after routinely training someone do you notice a change in their mental state and overall mood? 

Honestly, it usually only takes 1 day to see a change in mood. This is due to the immediate endorphin release after the first session. 

Having gone through lockdown & running a business, times must have been tough, what did you do personally to look after your mental health during this time? 

During lockdown looking after my mental health came with looking after the small habits. I made sure I trained 5 out of 7 days. I tried to drink minimal alcohol. Tried to sleep 7 hours per night. Drank >3 litres of water daily. Spent lots of quality time outdoors with the family.

For those who are struggling with their mental health and motivation, what do you recommend in terms of training/exercising? 

My advice would be to set realistic goals and build up slowly. Quick fixes are never the solution. Aim for longevity and do your research. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Getting fit is hard work, but the mental and physical benefits are well worth it.