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TRADIE yoga, mindfulness and a focus on nutrition and mental health are being brought to construction sites by construction project manager and nutrition coach Pip Seldon.
“We always see such a strong focus on safety on site, but it’s my belief that safety is influenced by the overall health of tradies,” Pip says.
Pip lost her older brother Dale, a carpenter, to suicide in 2009 when he was 35 and says it became her motivator for change.
“As I’m often on site, I’ve seen first hand what the guys go through – the physical work, the long hours, the poor job security – so for me it was important to be able to give back,” she says.
“As a project manager we couldn’t do our job without these guys.
“My experience in losing Dale has motivated me to do this. He put on a facade that he was happy and enjoying life, and we had no idea how he really felt. There was never any time that he opened up or asked for help or support.”
Pip says that the construction industry is embedded in macho culture but that she is starting to see a shift.
“There’s definitely a push to encourage guys to open up,” she says.
“We need to let go of the macho element, to allow them to be honest about their feelings without the fear of being judged.
“Guys typically take on pressures and stress and particularly tradies who are on the bottom of a chain from client to builder to contractor, and they’re wearing all this stress on their shoulders to deliver a job on time and to certain standards.
“We need to give them the tools to help themselves.”
Pip started the Healthy Tradie Project last year, running healthy eating workshops on construction sites, including a 30-minute workshop of mindfulness and yoga.
“The guys have been very receptive to it – I’ve been astounded by the participation, and the appreciation that their health and wellbeing was valued.
“It’s breaking new ground I think, it’s not something that’s typically seen and it’s a real culture shift. It’s new and different, but it’s so important that we take a proactive approach to safety and mental health.”
Pip says that taking the time to talk is important, too.
“We have become very process driven but we need to come back to the basics of communication and taking the time to talk and listen,” she says.
“And be prepared to not always have the answers – it’s enough to be a sounding board.”
Pip says she is planning to launch Tradie Yoga this year, following her yoga teacher training in Arizona with Baron Baptiste.
“The yoga classes will be just for tradies, so they don’t need to go to a studio, they can feel comfortable, turn up in their high-vis, hard hats and boots,” she says.
“We noticed last year that they all felt the benefits and started to recognise that stopping, slowing down and moving their bodies in a different way when they’re continually doing the same movement over and over the body is a way to bring in the stretching to keep it supple.
“It doesn’t mean you have to sit on a cushion and meditate, it’s about bringing mindfulness into their everyday activities. Whatever they’re doing, being mindful and present in the work.
“It’s guaranteed to improve safety and reduce incidents on site.”