Exercising your body is very important for your physical health. A great benefit of exercise is that it also gets those natural, good feeling neurotransmitters, called endorphins, moving through your brain. Endorphins are important for your overall sense of well-being. Working out can also be a great time to think about those little details that occupy our attention in our busy lives. When we work out, we can process the bothersome influences that occupy our minds, we can plan things for later, even respond to text messages and emails while doing cardio. This is a time to take care of yourself. To tend to YOU.
Your workout time might seem like a great opportunity to process your thoughts and plan out your busy day, but it is much more effective if you let those thoughts go. Whatever your workout consists of, you can be much more productive if you really focus in on what you are doing – just be with you. If you are working on your abdominals, for example, put your whole focus on your abs. Be with them, feel them contracting. Think abs, be abs! Visualize how your workout gets you the results you want. Visualize the shape you want for yourself and think about how strong it’ll get you. Once you get into that space, you will feel clear and it’s more effective.
When your muscles start to burn and you feel like you want to stop, take a pause in your mind and remember that your body is thanking you for what you are giving it. Really hold the focus there. And know that you can always do a little more than you think you can. Then be proud of getting yourself to that next level!
Another wonderful place to put your focus during your workout is on your breath. Breathing is extremely important in your workout. It helps your muscles work in the ways they need to for your best physical benefits. Exhale during the most strenuous part of your exercise. Inhale during the release, or the “negative” movements, as we call it in the weight lifting world. When thoughts creep into your mind, put your focus back on your breath. That will put you back into the overall focus of caring for your body.
We get more of what we focus on in life. The same is true for your physical body. Allow yourself to fully feel what you are doing while you are working out. Focus on the muscle group you are exercising. This way, you can also get to know your body better – how it moves and reacts. Then take it a step farther than the visualizations and breathing. Pay full attention to how your joints move and how your muscles contract. Listen closely to your body. Your body will tell you what feels right and what is most effective – as long as you pay attention.
When I teach my classes, or when working one on one with a client, I remind my students to focus. I can tell when someone is just going through the motions and their thoughts are somewhere else. Often energy and form is lost when your thoughts are not focused. As a personal fitness trainer, I am there to help my students and clients correct their form and technique. But only they can control their full focus. While personal trainers are there to teach, motivate and push further, ultimately it is up to each person to maintain focus.
Let your workout be your time to let go of any thoughts that interrupt your focus. Those thoughts take you away from the process of what you are doing. If you are working out with or around others, keep your attention focused on you. Be fully present with your body. Think of your workout like it is a meditation. Place your attention inward and let all of your other thoughts wait. It’s all about you – allow yourself that! This is your gift to you and in turn, you will have more to give to others. Focus is powerful for an optimal workout. For your best results. Finish your exercise class or workout session feeling more invigorated and accomplished in the time you spent caring for yourself!