In the past few months, Olympic gymnast Simone Byers and tennis champion Naomi Osaka have both made the decision to withdraw from their respective competitive sports events to take care of themselves, which has shocked the public discussion on mental health.
The impact of these actions on sports, fitness and the healthy world was discussed at beauty Inc + FN Health Forum last week. This is a one-day virtual summit, which brings together health, fitness, sports, beauty and related industries. It will explore the power of self-care in 2021 and how the definition of health changes during a pandemic.
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In the mental health group in sports and fitness, Dr. leeja Carter, a sports psychologist, and Liz beecroft, a psychotherapist, discussed with Fiona Berwick, head of global marketing communications at ASICs how athletes promote dialogue on mental health, the impact of this high-profile publicity on amateur athletes and fitness enthusiasts, and how brands meet the needs of athletes at all levels and support mental health initiatives. The discussion took place after Byers decided to withdraw from the women’s gymnastics team finals and individual all-round finals of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We should all learn a page from Simone biles’ script, that is, always check your body and know when it’s a good time to pause and rest. She puts her physical and mental health first, but most importantly, she puts her safety first,” Dr. Carter said in the panel discussion. “Thought and body are interrelated. We know that our feelings and ways of thinking will directly affect the physiological function and biomechanics of our body. Exercise is not just physical, it is a very subtle and intimate dance, between your psychological feelings and how you practice and train your body. A person who does not pay attention to his mental health as an athlete is an important part of not paying attention to performance and exercise 。”
Naomi Osaka was at the Tokyo Olympics- Credit: Associated Press
Bicroft is the founder of mentl Sesh and a psychotherapist. He works with athletes and patients with professional fashion, music and sneaker industries. He agrees and points out male athletes, such as NBA Players Kevin young, Paul George and Ben Simmons. A high-profile mental health advocate. “When you consider male athletes, there is another stigma associated with identifying as men and being unable to express their emotions. These gender stereotypes persist as long as men grow up in some cases to cover up their feelings “We’re starting to see athletes talk about it more openly. We still have a long way to go, but I hope the more we can get people to stand up and share their stories, the more we can emphasize the psychological component of the game.”
Physical and mental connection is at the forefront of the discussion. Berwick, executive director of ASICs, explained how the sports brand expanded its founding principle of “sound mind, sound body” (its name is the acronym of Latin motto “anima” SANA in corpus Sano) through the popularity. One of its new initiatives is mind lifter, a tool that provides a front and back thought image and tracks its ten emotional and cognitive characteristics, from focus to positivity, to calm and relaxation. The tool uses facial imaging recognition and self-reported data to show athletes and fitness users the impact of exercise on the brain. To further demonstrate collective impact, asics launched the tool’s global interactive map in July.
“So far, it’s clear that whatever the sport is, it takes only 20 minutes to have a positive impact on all 10 characteristics,” Berwick said. “We are very pleased to see this research carried out around the world and see its changes in a year.”
Beauty Inc + FN Health Forum- Credits: WWD / FN
The brand also conducted a series of surveys throughout the pandemic to track how amateur to elite athletes have changed their fitness habits and attitudes, and to study how blockades around the world affect their relationship with sports and fitness. ASICs also holds various virtual running activities and competitions for its elite athletes.
“This really makes us think about the role of ASICs. Our motto is sound mind and sound body. What role should we play to help our employees, our athletes and our daily athletes – our consumers,” Berwick said.
For other brands seeking mental health programs and how to support consumers of professional and amateur athletes, Dr. Carter and bicroft agree that this approach should be subtle, and any public promotion requires tools and resources.
“I suggest that organizations and companies directly contact community stakeholders and leaders and ask them how to create fitness and health or exercise patterns that suit them and meet their needs in the community. Let yourself work together to create something really useful and beautiful,” said Dr. Carter, a professor at Temple University and executive director of the food and health equity alliance. “When I think about fairness, I think about availability, accessibility, reliability, and things that are culturally grounded and sound in the communities where we seek to narrow access gaps in fitness and health opportunities.”