Where's your head at?

Where does your mind go when you are training? Are you thinking about what you need to pick up at the grocery store? Are you running through your to-do list in your mind? Are you worried about how much your body is giggling? Are you comparing yourself to the person training next toDSC03506-Edit-Edit_copy you? Are you obsessing over how many calories you are burning? OR Are you focused on the movement you are performing?

Where your mind goes when you train has you huge impact on the benefits you will reap from your time in the gym. If you find yourself distracted by weight loss goals, body critiques, and your life outside of the gym chances are you aren’t getting everything out of your workout that you could. Being present and training with purpose is the key to a safe, effective and successful training session.

First things first, focusing on weight loss, calorie torching and how sweaty you get during your workout will get you nowhere. Keeping your mind focused on those things distracts you from the task at hand. When weight is on your mind you most likely disregard performance and skill mastery while you ruminate over how this workout will hopefully lead to the skinny body you desire. When you are more worried about the weight loss benefits of your workout then what you are gaining from your training you lose out on becoming healthier, moving more effectively and becoming the best boxer, lifter, ____ (fill in the blank) you can be. You can’t learn to lift better, punch better or get stronger when you are focused on dropping a size. While I know letting go of weight loss goals isn’t easy, focusing on how exercise makes you feel mentally and physically as well as mastering your chosen training activity comes with a million more benefits than being thinner.

Now ladies I get it, we all worry about how we look, it’s normal. And when we are running around the gym full of mirrors in fitted workout attire and bodies are everywhere it’s easy to get caught up in focusing on what is giggling and how good another girl in the gym looks, but we won’t get better “results” with this type of body shaming, external focus. When we stay focused on how we look, we aren’t present. We aren’t experiencing the real awesomeness that is going on around us. We are missing out on the connection with our teammates, laughs with fellow members, tips from our coaches and opportunities to improve ourselves. Look everyone giggles, some people giggle more than others, but we all do and we are suppose to. So stop worrying about how toned someone else’s arms are or how doing a certain movement makes your arms giggle and focus on what you are learning. Be present.

Then there is life and all the stuff we have to do. While you are punching, running or dancing if you are focused on life’s never ending demands you are again missing out on the experience of truly training. Those things will be there for you to do when you are done training, so don’t let them disrupt your “me time”. Training is a time to get lost in the moment. Stay focused on how your body feels, performing what your coaches are asking to, and always trying to better than you were yesterday.

No matter what your training goals are or why you chose the exercise type you did we all can benefit from practicing being present and training with purpose. We need to become students of ourselves. We need to get our inside game right. We need our head in the game. When you are focused on exactly what you are doing in any given moment of your training you can learn about yourself and your body. You start to better understand your limits (and when and how to push them), when a movement feels right or wrong, and things start to click. When you step in the gym distracted and simply go through the motions you are missing out on all the benefits that can’t be measure on the scale.

It’s not about memorizing a combo or movement pattern or perfectly following the steps; it’s about putting yourself in the scenario and understanding why we do what we do. You gotta go inside yourself and feel what you are doing. Sometimes you gotta pull back on your power, strip some weight off the bar and other times you gotta dig deep and unload your inner beast, but if you aren’t in touch with your body and the moment you can’t give yourself what you need. Be present, move with purpose and leave the distractions at the door.

Jessica Storch, MA is a boxing coach, personal trainer, health coach and owner of Knockout Women's Boxing Club in Westmont, IL. Her mission is to empower women to be their best through the sport of boxing. She promotes a health focused mentality and encourages women to let go of the diet mentality. Jessica believes weight loss doesn't equal health and works with women to support them in building healthy lifestyles and happy lives.