There’s a sweaty time and place for letting the music in a dark fitness studio take over your movements, sure, but zoning out isn’t always the best idea when it comes to working out.
Just like mindfulness can be applied to stressy moments or healthier eating habits, it can be beneficial to practice while lunging and lifting, says Manhattan’s Nimble Fitness owner and uber qualified fitness pro Daniel Lucas.
“It’s kind of the foundation of my whole personal health and wellness program, and we do guide our clients toward it, too,” he says.
Lucas offers functional fitness programs (both personal training and small group classes) at Nimble’s locations in Union Square and the East Village, where the focus on bringing careful awareness to how you’re working out is constantly apparent. So what does it look like to sweat mindfully, and what exactly does it do for your? Here are three reasons you should practice mindfulness during your workouts…
1. You’ll get stronger, faster. Exercises are more effective when done properly, and being mindful of your movements will help activate the right muscles and more. Think about how much harder a squat is when you sit your butt all the way back every time and contract your glutes on the way up, rather than just popping up and down using your quads. “If you’re doing a deadlift and you’re not being mindful of your positioning and form, the effectiveness of that movement goes way down,” Lucas says.
2. It’ll help you avoid injuries. “Only we can know ourselves and our own energy,” Lucas says, so being mindful of how your body feels in each moment will help you avoid situations that could end in disaster. That could mean skipping a tough boot camp on day you have knee pain or choosing a modification during an exercise that’s really hurting your lower back, for example, rather than just pushing through it blindly.
3. It may help you enjoy your workouts more and stick to your routine. A recent study found that people who practiced mindfulness during exercise reported more satisfaction with their workouts, and as a result, showed up for them more often. Lucas says the findings make perfect sense. “Taking a moment in the beginning of a session to get someone to be present and connect to their body, that always helps them with understanding the change that’s then created through the training session,” he says, “so you really can feel the benefits from any work you’re putting in.” And you deserve that, really. —Lisa Elaine Held
If you want to be mindful at the gym but don’t know where to start, try these simple exercises that help you practice it until you master it…
(Photos: Larkin Clark for Well+Good; Nimble Fitness)