Mindfulness and meditation seem to be popular buzzwords and all the rage lately. Why? Ultra-successful people will tell you that the only time you can be 100% effective is when your mind and thoughts are in the present moment. Sure, you can plan for the future or contemplate and learn from the past, but all of your power lies in the Now.
Furthermore, living in the present will also increase peace in your life. Hanging out in the future (future-trippin’) often involves worry, anxiety, and fear of the unknown. Letting your mind linger in the past often leads to regrets and your “should of-s”. “Oh darn, I should have done this, I should have done that…” referred to as “Shoulding all over yourself” 🙂 Messy and not healthy!
OK, let’s dive in. The first 2 of the 3 concepts are linked to your breath. All 3 come directly from my 16+ years of teaching, training, and loving Pilates.
1. Just Breathe – The 2 rules I share with clients when it comes to breathing are:
a. Exhale on the Exertion – the hard part of the exercise
b. Exhale when you’re working against gravity – This is simple on your Total Gym: When your body and the Glide Board are moving UP the rails towards the tower – it’s an exhale.
If you’ve been training for a while, this may already be subconscious for you (no need to think about it anymore). But remember back to when you first started working out. You probably had to concentrate on when to inhale or exhale. This little focus kept you present and in the moment. Even if proper breathing is second nature for you, when we get to those last few repetitions and towards muscle fatigue during a set, the tendency is to hold your breath. I’ve been working out since I was 12 years old and I still have to be present and catch myself holding my breath when taking the muscle to failure (full fatigue) – which I recommend you do on every set to get the most out of your workout.
2. Suck It In! – Before you begin your exhale, slightly tug your belly button towards your spine, and then accentuate that contraction throughout your exhale – like you’re trying to fit into your tightest jeans! See the video to learn why this is so beneficial!
3. Squeeze and Hold – the muscle you’re working at the peak contraction. And squeeze and hold for a good, full second. This is an internal squeeze (like flexing your biceps in the mirror!) and enhances the actual contraction instead of just moving the resistance from A to B. Most importantly, it keeps you fully focused on the muscle you’re training. The result? Maximum benefits from each repetition of every exercise you do. This exemplifies my favorite Pilates principle: Focus on the Muscle, not the Movement. In Pilates, we train the body from the inside!
I’ll end with some great news: You can only have one thought at a time. Thus, if you’re focused and present on each repetition of each exercise using these 3 simple concepts, guess what you’re not thinking about? What happened (or didn’t happen) at work, To-Do lists, the kids, what the stock market is doing, what you’re making for dinner, what you need at the store or anything else in the past or future which can disrupt your peace and concentration.
Once again, the benefits?
• Max ROI from your Total Gym Workouts
• Being Present and Focused = More Peace
• Being Present, Mindful, Focused, and in the Now during your Total Gym workouts are great practice for approaching other things in your life with the same mental discipline.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but the Now is a gift, and that’s why we call it the Present!”