Nxtep offer Personal Training Programmes to help people improve their mental health – be it anxiety issues, stress, depression or PTSD – we strongly believe exercise can help improve everyone’s mental health.


Written by

Chris Nicklin is a certified Personal Trainer with over 7 years' experience, and the owner of Nxtep Personal Training. Chris qualified from Edge Hill University with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Sports Coaching and Performance Development, and has delivered over ten thousand one-to-one Personal Training sessions.

Updated 28/9/2022

Mental illness affects millions of people each year, and depression alone is estimated to affect over 300 million people worldwide, while up to 1 in 20 people in the UK suffer from generalised anxiety disorder. However, exercise has been shown to reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and boost mood. At Nxtep we are a big believers in exercise being key to good mental health, so we are happy to be able to offer personal training programmes to help you improve any mental health issues you may be suffering from.


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Sarah RaoSarah Rao
07:30 30 May 24
20:41 07 May 24
The “personal trainer” at this establishment is very unprofessional and will fat shame people. I do not recommend you will be judged.Edit: No email was left to contact. Leave an email so we can discuss further thank you.
Paul CorriganPaul Corrigan
12:26 10 Mar 24
Sadly I'm leaving the area and would love to take Nxtep with me. I attend the small classes. Chris has created a unique venue that would be hard to match anywhere. The environment is warm and friendly. The sports science work that Chris does behind the scenes to prepare the classes is immense, so that we don't have to worry about it. Just plug and go. Though education is always at hand if required. The classes can be hard work (results driven) but always fun. The equipment is of the highest standard. I've always been around sports but have never experienced anything so positive and rewarding. At 57 there is no way I would ever have thought I'd lift such heavy weights or complete these vigorous exercises. Chris gets you there incrementally and safely but always with great humour. He uses a truly interactive App that plots your progress. A fitness App that actually works, who knew!!Also the clients are lovely and incredibly supportive of each other. Well bloody done Chris!
Aidan McGearyAidan McGeary
07:50 27 Feb 24
Over the past alomost 3 years, Nxtep has been central to my personal growth. Chris and his clients make up a fantastic community of people who have helped me develop in many ways. No one lifts a single kg on my behalf or runs a step for me, but as part of a positive and nurturing environment I have been able to consistently, week in, week out, exceed my expactations of what I am capable of. The Physical and mental benefits I have experienced since being a part of this community have been game changing and I owe them a great deal. Aidan.
Alana McgladeAlana Mcglade
17:44 20 Feb 24
Chris has been absolutely amazing at supporting me on my fitness journey. Everything is tailored to the individual so it suits everyone no matter what stage you're at. There's a really supportive environment that I haven't experienced elsewhere and the flexibility Chris has shown to me when needed has been amazing. Would never go anywhere else now!
Ashleigh PattersonAshleigh Patterson
20:07 18 Feb 24
CHRIS AND LUCA YOU ARE AMAZING AT WHAT YOU DO.At one point i couldnt walk up the stairs... after been hospitalized and locked in a room for nearly a month at pinderfields I was diagnosed with severe asthma to been under observation for COPD at 30 years old and still living everyday with it now, I decided to make a change. I moved to Cheshire I joined @nxtepknutsford and in a matter of months I was competing at @turfgames with the gym familyI cannot thank everyone enough who has been on my journeyNow at 32 I can lift 110kg on a deadliftI can run .... some sort of distance and always improving as much as my lungs will carry me.Never give up and push to be betterWe saw. We came. I conquered! 🏆
Steven ThompsonSteven Thompson
07:40 15 Feb 24
The model works for me , small group of less than 6 with a dedicated trainer . Have used gyms for many years but this model works for me . Complete professional instruction at all times . All about correct technique and protecting back etc . Plus there is no escape - maximising every session and getting maximum benefits . A real community approach .
deborah walkerdeborah walker
10:08 12 Feb 24
Always a great session with Chris .Come away feeling fab
Iain FountainIain Fountain
12:04 06 Feb 24
Have been training regularly each week since October at Nxtep and just wanted to give some feedback on my experience which has been nothing short than excellent. Chris, Luca and the team have provided one and one expertise, techniques, dietary plans to help with weight loss, build lean muscle and improve fitness. Can’t shout their praises enough. Good job Nxtep.
Hannah ThrelfallHannah Threlfall
14:10 10 Nov 23
I signed up for the 6 week body transformation initially to help me get my pre baby body back after gaining a lot of weight through pregnancy. I lost 8.6kgs in the 6 weeks and have since renewed my membership to continue with my progress and I’m almost down 10kgs in total only 2kgs away from my pre pregnancy weight. I have always hated going to the gym and would dread going initially but now I am 8 weeks in, training 3x per week and feeling fitter and much happier in myself it is something I definitely want to continue. I feel it has really changed my lifestyle and I am making healthier choices everyday with a much more positive outlook, my family have commented that the old Hannah is back as before I felt I’d lost myself since becoming a mum for the first time. Chris and Luca are incredibly knowledgeable about anatomy which was very important to me after having a C-section and I have seen huge improvements in my core and lower back stability. I am also enjoying the new friends I am making from the sessions and never thought I’d say it but I’m looking forward to continuing the training long term and being in the best shape of my life!!
Katie MorrisKatie Morris
08:05 15 Sep 23
I've really enjoyed the community at Nxtep. I've never been this thrilled get up before 7am to attend the gym. Chris and Luca are brilliant and I feel I've come so far in the year since I started coming. Looking forward to more progress and the pride that comes with working hard
Lesley SneesbyLesley Sneesby
08:04 15 Sep 23
Thank you Chris and Luca for your amazing help, guidance and support in such a welcoming environment at Nxtep
15:47 03 May 23
I initially joined Nxtep to get a better grip on my fitness levels after yo-yoing for years with sporadic classes and runs. It was an excellent decision as the sessions are three times a week which quickly got me in a good rhythm. Chris and Luca are both fantastic and very patient with a newbie like myself who had never lifted weights before. They have really helped me understand fitness and weight lifting a lot better. They also adjusted any exercises based on my capabilities as I had an injured shoulder for a while, and with the rehab exercises they gave me that’s now back to normal. I can’t recommend Nxtep enough!
15:38 04 Aug 22
I've been working with the guys at Nxtep for about a year now; I originally joined thinking it would be a short-term thing to lose weight for my wedding.A year later and I'm married, 12kg lighter than when I first started, lifting much heavier weights and am in much better shape in general. Chris and Luca have been amazing with my training; they always challenge me to try new things and to push further, which is really helpful for someone who's training has always seemed to plateau in the past.They've also taught me about health and fitness as a lifestyle; there's so much more to it than lifting some weights or constantly being on a diet, and they always keep things new, fun and flexible. They're also really helpful and approachable guys; I've messaged them lots of times to ask for training tips and advice when I'm going to the gym outside of training hours, and they're always more than happy to help.
Jackie KingJackie King
19:38 17 May 22
I first met Chris in January 2020. I was 12 weeks pregnant with my first child. As a trained dancer, and teacher I was hoping to maintain my levels of fitness whilst minimising the risks of my pregnancy. My early dance training concentrated on training my limbs, while often neglecting my ‘centre’ or ‘core’. It wasn’t until a back injury in 2012 due to weak lower back muscles that my approach to training changed. When I first found out about my pregnancy, I worried about my back and how to keep it strong.Chris helped me through my pregnancy teaching me safe ways of keeping my core strong, helping with my postural alignment as well as addressing some muscular imbalances that I wasn’t aware I had. Most importantly, Chris gave me the confidence to continue training through pregnancy. I knew I was in safe hands. Chris is phenomenally knowledgeable in how our bodies work.May 2022, I am currently pregnant with my second child and still continuing to train with Chris at Nxtep. Luca has also joined the team and is a fantastic addition. They are a great team, and I am very lucky to be trained by them both. I would highly recommend anyone thinking about pre or post natal pregnancy training to consider Nxtep.
Sean WSean W
12:09 02 Apr 22
Before starting at Nxtep I would go through a cycle of starting to get fit, injuring my back, then avoiding exercise for fear of making it worse. The same happened when I started here, with my over eagerness to improve leading to the same old injury. Chris and Luca kept me motivated and coached me through the recovery process, allowing me to strengthen the areas susceptible to injury and enabling me to carry on where I’d previously have given up. Now I’m lifting ~100kg more than when I first started and the past few years of persistent back injury seem a distant memory. The guys have helped me with my nutrition, my outlook and overcoming what I previously thought I couldn’t. I can’t thank them both enough!
Paul KennedyPaul Kennedy
22:59 05 Nov 21
I’ve been working with Chris and the team at Nxtep, and the initially just wanted to get stronger and fitter somewhere local when the gym near work was no longer an option due to the pandemic. I know feel really confident handling weights and my diet. I recently saw myself in a film from before I started at Nxtep and other people couldn’t recognise me from me who didn’t know me well so, it definitely works! Highly recommended.
Jordan CraigJordan Craig
20:45 05 Aug 21
Training at Nxtep during Covid was tricky but Chris and Luca made it work! Started with training outdoors in the carpark before we were allowed to move indoors, it was always fun and I feel I made real progress.It never felt just like a business and always felt more caring, I was also doing it as part of my DofE to which Luca/Chris were very helpful with.I've had to stop due to other focuses in life but I've got some real fond memories of the time and am hoping to go back later if I can!
ryan unwinryan unwin
20:29 28 Jul 21
Great personal trainer, his sessions are great and really push you into great mindset to achieve your goals, great knowledge of the body aswell! Would definitely recommend!!
David VDavid V
17:54 22 Oct 20
Wanted to improve all round fitness especially strength and conditioning so contacted & met with Chris.....was very impressed with his approach and was motivated to getting started & looking forward to the challengeChris was fundamental to me in making the nutrition and exercise changes required to achieve goals.... inspiring, motivational, encouraging & supportive he is great to work with......regular tracking & updates help me to stay focused..... Chris is easy to get along with and the sessions are challenging but enjoyable.....

The Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Illness

People often confuse the term mental health with mental illness.

Mental illness is a diagnosis of a certain type of condition, whereas mental health refers to how you feel emotionally and psychologically. People often use the terms interchangeably, but there are some important differences.

For example, someone who is depressed doesn’t necessarily have a mental illness, because it’s possible to experience symptoms of depression without having a diagnosable mental illness. Someone who is stressed out about work could be suffering from what psychologists call “burnout,” which isn’t considered a mental illness. But if those same feelings persist over long periods of time, or become debilitating, it could be indicative of a more serious problem.

A mental disorder is a condition characterized by abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviours, or perceptions. Some examples include schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Exercise is proven to improve the mood both for people suffering with mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety, and for people suffering from a mental illness, but it should not be seen as a cure for mental illness.


Why Does Exercise Improve Mood?

Exercise increases blood flow throughout the body, which improves oxygenation of the brain. Oxygenated blood carries nutrients and hormones to all parts of the body, including the brain. When the brain gets adequate amounts of oxygen, it releases endorphins, natural painkillers that boost energy and relieve tension. Endorphins also increase serotonin levels, which reduces negative thoughts and feelings of sadness.

Regular physical activity has many mental health benefits. While working out alone likely won’t suddenly fix a person’s condition, it will go along way to showing improvement. In addition to the cognitive functions benefits from exercise, the brains also become more resilient emotionally.

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “exercise is medicine.” It has been used for decades to describe how exercise can help with a variety of health conditions, including mental illness. But what does that mean exactly? What do we know about the benefits of exercise on our brains and bodies? And why should we care?


What are 5 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise?

It’s no secret that exercise is good for the body. But did you know it can also be good for your mind? Exercise improves brain function, reduces stress, increases energy levels, boosts self-esteem, and helps manage symptoms of mental illness.

Even if you don’t have a mental health condition, regular physical exercise may help improve your mood, attitude, and mental well-being. Exercise can:

Increase Your Self-Esteem

Exercise on a regular basis is an investment in your mind, body, and spirit. When it becomes a habit, it may boost your self-esteem and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your looks and a feeling of accomplishment if you complete even tiny workout objectives.

Give You More Energy

Increasing your heart rate multiple times each week will give you extra pep in your step, and more energy means a better mood. Begin with a few minutes of exercise every day and gradually increase your routine as you feel more enthusiastic.

Improve Cognition & Memory

Endorphins, which make you feel better, also help you focus and stay cognitively alert for tasks at hand. Exercise also promotes the formation of new brain cells and aids in the prevention of age-related deterioration.

Help You Sleep Better

Even small spurts of activity in the day will aid with sleep regulation. Relaxing activities like yoga or mild stretching might assist induce sleep if you like to exercise at night.

Improve Willpower & Resilience

Exercise may help you become resilient and deal with mental or emotional challenges in life instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other unhealthy behaviours that make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise may also strengthen your immune system and counteract the negative effects of stress.


What Type of Workout Is Best For Mental Health?

Exercise of any sort can help people cope with stress and improve mood. But for those suffering from mental health conditions, what is the best form of exercise?

Some research shows that aerobic exercise is the best way to achieve all five of these benefits. The theory is that aerobic exercise strengthens muscles and heart, while also increasing oxygen flow throughout the body. This allows the brain to work better and feel less stressed.

Resistance training too, however, has also been strongly linked to improved mental health, due to it causing an increase in the size of certain brain areas. Improvement in mental function was linked to this alteration in brain structure.

Mindfulness has been shown to improve psychological wellness and quality of life by reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and there are actually similarities between what people call mindfulness, and what takes place while you’re doing resistance or weight work.

Being more mindful means focusing more on the here and now, including your own thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. Additionally, mindfulness emphasises the fleeting nature of ideas and emotions. You decide whether to act on them or not as they come and go.

As for the individual types of exercise – the answer depends on the individual. Some people prefer group classes while others enjoy more solo activities such as running or cycling. If you are interested in improving your physical and mental health, hiring a personal trainer can be a great option.


Overcoming obstacles to exercise

Obstacles to exercising are very common. They include feeling tired, depressed, or anxious; dealing with stressors like work, family, or financial issues; being too busy; and having no motivation. This article looks at what those challenges might be and suggests ways to overcome them.

Already Feeling Exhausted

Many people find themselves fighting fatigue while trying to exercise. If you’ve been sedentary for a long time, your muscles may be sore and stiff. You may also experience pain in your joints and muscles. These symptoms are normal, but they can interfere with your ability to move well and keep up a consistent workout routine.

Feeling Too Stressed To Start

When you’re tired, depressed or stressed, it seems like working out won’t do much good. But the truth is that exercise is a powerful energizer—and even small amounts of movement can boost energy levels. Try moving around every hour or so during the day to give yourself a chance to stretch, stand up, walk around, or lift something light.

Having No Time

Being too busy often gets in the way of getting regular exercise. In fact, research shows that busy schedules are associated with lower rates of physical activity. So, try scheduling your workouts into your daily schedule rather than waiting until you have time. And remember that even short bursts of activity throughout the day can count toward meeting your weekly goal.

Lacking Motivation

Lack of motivation is one of the most common reasons why people don’t exercise. For many people, the idea of starting a fitness program feels overwhelming because they lack confidence about their abilities or aren’t sure where to begin. There’s nothing wrong with being hesitant about beginning a new fitness plan – in fact, we expect it!

Being In Pain

Consult your doctor about safe exercise options if you have a handicap, a serious weight issue, arthritis, or any other condition or disease that affects your mobility. Pain shouldn’t be ignored; instead, you should take action when you can. If it helps, break up your workout time into shorter, more frequent intervals. You may also try exercising in water to ease any joint or muscle pain.

How Long Does it Take for Exercise to Improve Mental Health?

It takes time to build up to a healthy level of physical fitness, but exercise can have an almost immediate impact on your mental health. For many, simply overcoming whatever barriers they perceived to have between themselves and exercise results in a big boost in mood. This can dissipate quickly though, for example if you don’t keep it regular and you lapse back into bad habits for the next week and don’t manage to exercise again. So it really is best to try and keep on top of it, and get back in the gym, on the treadmill or in the park a day or two after you make your first breakthrough.

Can You Beat Depression With Exercise?

Exercise is one of the best ways to treat depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A study published in 2014 found that aerobic exercise improved symptoms of depression in patients who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Another study showed that exercise helped reduce feelings of hopelessness and helplessness in depressed individuals. Exercise is unlikely to completely resolve depression on its own however, and as with many things, it is usually just a part of the solution, along with other positive steps a person can take.

Can a Personal Trainer Help With Anxiety?

Yes! Many people suffering from anxiety disorders benefit greatly from working with a professional trainer. Following a regular exercise programme where everything is already planned out for you can be a calming thought if you’re suffering from anxiety. Additionally, the fact that it is just you and your personal trainer – with no onlookers – can be another pleasant factor.

At Nxtep, we’re all about complete wellbeing – both physical and mental, and we take a holistic approach to health, with diet and gut health playing a big part in your programme as well as the exercise. We have plenty of experience in helping people with anxiety get fit in a calm, controlled environment, and we know when to push you and when not to.

Does Exercise Help Anxiety And Panic Attacks?

Yes – studies suggest that exercise helps alleviate anxiety and panic attacks. One study found that exercising regularly reduced symptoms of social phobia, while another found that regular physical activity decreased anxiety levels in college students. Research suggests that exercise may be helpful for those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.

Is Exercise Better Than Antidepressants?

Exercise may play a role in treating depression, but there isn’t enough research yet to say whether it works better than medication. There aren’t any clinical trials comparing exercise therapy to antidepressant medications. However, some experts believe that exercise is preferable to taking antidepressants because it doesn’t carry the same risks associated with drugs such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and sleep problems.

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