One of the common reasons adults, hockey parents, and weekend warriors flock to the fitness centre on a semi-regular basis is to provide an hour of uninterrupted silence in what’s normally a frenetic week. No emails, no text messages, no kids asking for money (pretty sure I used that one a couple weeks ago).
You’re there to invest in your body and to leave your brain behind.
And it’s dangerous.
The problem with turning your brain off in the gym is inefficiency. If you only get three hours to yourself to spend in the fitness centre each week, getting the most out of that time is important, right?
I know, earth-shattering stuff.
So how do we enrich each hour?
Instead of shutting your brain off completely, think of your hour in the gym as existing on another channel. Your regular channel is the one that’s oversaturated with requests for your attention, so when you get to the gym, flick the switch and demand some of that attention back.
Be mindful of your routine. Don’t try something because you saw it on a silly exercise informercial. Pay attention to the movements and exercises that will work best for you. And if you’re unsure of what will work, ask. Steph St. Laurent contributed a fantastic article last week about the benefits of personal training. It might be a good idea to book some one on one time, even if it’s just once, to get the ball rolling.
And once you do get the ball rolling, tune your brain to its highest frequency and stay on task by thinking of these three body parts.
If I’d titled this section core instead of hips I’d still be accurate, but you’d accuse me of copping out and I’d feel bad. So think of your hips instead. If you’re performing exercises that demand movement and exertion from your hips then you’ll be maximizing a body part that’s called upon frequently in your day to day life.
Think about it; walking, running, picking up hockey bags - it all involves hip movement. The only thing that doesn’t require hip movement is sitting in rush hour traffic, but if your hips are healthy and loose then you’ll be a lot less stiff when you finally get out of the car.
Your spine and the muscles surrounding your shoulders are a crucial key to your posture, the health of your neck, and ultimately, your ability to move around and be happy. Chest and arm exercises are important if you’re headed to the beach, but if you want to strut around every minute with your head held high and blood flowing easily into your brain, then you need to open yourself up to exercises that work your deltoids, traps, and glutes.
Alright, we’ve got the core surrounded after all. One of the most important things I’ve learned during personal training sessions is that no matter what exercises you’re doing, each rep starts in your core. Bicep curls? Engage your core, then pull the weight. Pull-downs? Core, then back, then traps. Your body is working to its greatest efficiency when it has a strong, unbreakable base from which every repetition begins.
While the other two points are mostly here to remind you to perform exercises that target the hips and the back, the abs are used in the process of every movement you make in the gym.
Except the movement to leave the gym. Which you’re now free to do, great job!