THERE is little Hunter businesswoman Chloe Semenyna will not reveal in the name of building awareness and support for those with mental health issues.
That’s because Ms Semenyna, a personal trainer and founder of the all-female, “mental health friendly” gym The Self Care Sisterhood, has had her own share of battles.
As a teenager she suffered chronic migraines, then when studying her final semester in her primary teaching degree in Newcastle she became so sick she was bedridden for 18 months.
Ms Semenya finished her degree and was working in early childhood when she had a back injury which served as a catalyst for her to realise the importance of movement for her physical and mental health.
In 2013, just before she was diagnosed with Bi Polar II disorder, she attended a fitness trial at a gym and discovered a passion for movement and a dislike for male-dominated gyms.
She did a certificate three and four in personal training and a diploma in holistic meditation then founded The Self Care Sisterhood. Offering a supportive environment for women with or without mental health issues, the gym’s focus is on mental health rather than illness.
“We have a really clear philosophy as to what we are about – the first is ‘she moves for her mind’, so we are moving for mental health not weight loss,” she explains.
“Secondly, we advocate that self care is not selfish, movement is just one part of your tool box but you have to think of emotional and mental health, seeing a psychologist for support and so forth.
“Thirdly, we actually encourage our women to count small victories and not calories. We focus on building them up to the strengths they already have but maybe they don’t know they have it. Rather than taking out of their self care cup by saying ‘You need to lose weight’, we add to the cup, showing them that turning up is the biggest victory and encouraging them from there.”
Ms Semenyna, who takes medication and sees health professionals to maintain optimal mental health, recently relocated her business from Broadmeadow to Hamilton.
The gym offers 15 classes per week and classes are small to ensure any client suffering anxiety or mental health issues are most comfortable and can receive one-on-one support if needed.
The gym has a monthly Sisterhood Session, often inviting a speaker and just getting together for fun.
“My main issue with the Sisterhood is suicide prevention because I know a lot of girls have struggled in the past and I have struggled with it and I am a suicide survivor. These sessions ensure women can connect and don’t become isolated.”
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