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Coaching people with ADHD

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

This post is purely based on my own experience working with clients with ADHD. I am not an expert by any means but hopefully someone might find it useful. At the bottom are some links to further information backed by real experts so please do take a look at these or seek professional advice through your doctor.

Many people associate ADHD with school aged boy's. However, many adults including women are now getting diagnosed in adulthood mainly because as children it was never picked up. ADHD behaviours in girls are often mis-diagnosed or dismissed because they manifest differently.

I work with people, mostly women who have been diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. I often chat to them about it, admittedly have a giggle about the things they do but it does affect how I train them for sure. I create a safe space for everyone I work with so they can be themselves, say and behave however they want. They can't help being disorganised, late, preoccupied, have mood swings and be obsessive. I can help how I deal with those things.

What have I learnt from working with ADHD client's? People with ADHD are attracted to weight training and personal trainers because outside the chaos of their brain and it's constant noise, it offers them structure, consistency and clarity which they crave because they mostly dislike their ADHD traits so weightlifting offers them opportunities for some "normality". They like following strength programmes and tracking their progress and having a gym trainer who offers them familiarity and grounding.

However, that doesn't mean it's all plain sailing. They tend to be all or nothing people. So when they decide that gym based training is their latest thing. They will throw themselves all in. Their training goals change from one week to the next and they expect results yesterday. The downfall to this is they are at risk of over training so it's my job to slow them down, keep them grounded and set realistic targets. The busy gym environment isn't always an ideal place to maintain focus so quieter times to train need to be found; head phones can help and I have to refocus them on the task often. I also find that even though they like having a programme to follow, left to their own devices they will stray from it for other 'new, shiny exercises' or they complete all the programme's in an hour!

The other more serious side to ADHD is that they are more likely to develop disordered eating habits. This can be forgetting to eat altogether, obsessing over certain foods and over eating. All I can do in this situation is make them aware that it's likely part of their condition and seek help if needed. It is possible to help them organise their meal times better but this is best left to the professionals.

If, what I have written or the links below ring true with you please seek professional advice. Or, if you already have a diagnosis and would like help with your training from an experienced, inclusive coach please do reach out. (@npinspiredcoaching).

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