For the majority of my school years, my physical training was in a big, loud, bright box full of people running on hamster wheels, using both free weights and machines, and looking at themselves – and each other – in all the glass and mirrors (which were everywhere). It can be fun to train like that, but I found I was focusing on everything except my body and whatever movement I was doing at the time.
As I got older, and grew into an outdoor/mountain athlete, my training took on the human powered sports of climbing, cycling, skiing, hiking, and running. These were all done outdoors, usually quietly, with an emphasis on form, function, movement, and skill development. For a long time I felt I could do one (inside, using equipment, with others) or the other (outside, skill or sport oriented, alone). It took years for me to merge these two into one but through my training in kettlebells and life coaching, I have been able to.
As a mountain athlete, and nature lover, I do most of my training outside, in the sun and wind, with no shoes and, usually, no shirt. This enables me to stack the hack(s) of natural light, grounding, training, meditation, fresh air, and being in nature by feeling the sun and wind and earth while focusing on what position I’m in; basking in the natural world, and building a skill without the distraction of music, clanking weights, traffic, and those aforementioned rows of humans on hamster wheels…
You may not have the luxury of training in the mountains, or even outside, but do the best where you are. Perhaps there’s a park, or just a parking lot. Find a space, remove your shoes if possible, breathe, and focus on your movement. These are the kinds of small, simple changes that will reap huge rewards.
At first, you may find the absence of music, background noise, a training partner, or all those pretty bodies in the mirrors is hard. You may find your thoughts and emotions of what you can, or can’t do, bubble up. Good. Focus on those voices in your head, get in touch with your thoughts and feelings, listen to your self talk. Part of focusing isn’t just on the exercise or movement you’re doing in the moment, it’s the perspective you bring with you to everything you do.
My Lesson Learned
Through small changes, like training barefoot to focus on my connection to the ground, I learned how to remove the aid of the shoe holding me in position, and learned how to make the best position for myself. While this is just one example, I have found the carryover of focusing on what I’m doing, rather than multitasking, doesn’t just work in my training (regardless of whether it is inside or out). Spending time with my spouse, working, studying, creating, focusing on what I’m doing, and not having ten things going on at once, enables me to have a much higher output – even if it’s on less things.
If you are used to playing music, talking with others, or watching a screen, it may be hard at first. Learn to quiet your mind and be present. You’ll be amazed what some focus on what you are doing can do! It may sound silly but, how often are we not doing that? When you’re driving, are you drinking coffee, eating a sandwich, talking on the phone, interacting with your navigation, and finding a song on the radio all at once? Which thing are you doing? Put simply:
Do what you’re doing.
Then do something else.
I am a Climber, Creator, and Coach, and specialize in teaching people how to Think Better and Move Better so they can Live Better. I also Mentor creatives in how to get their art (movies, books, podcasts, or other) out into the world. If you would like to learn more, please contact me.