NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Benefits of Team Training for Fitness: Motivation and More

One of the hardest things about trying something new is that deep-rooted fear of not being able to do it. When you want to achieve something and feel you are on shaky ground about whether you actually can achieve it, the odds of you starting the task drops.

The Payoffs of a Team Support System

IMG_0184.jpgOne of the best ways to ensure that you overcome that fear is to have a support system or team behind you. There’s a lot to be said about the phrase, “There is strength in numbers.” Having that team environment and support system will allow for hefty payoff in your training. Take a look at some of the benefits.

  • Accountability with like-minded people: While this may be the most obvious result, it also happens to be one of the most beneficial. Having a group of people who will follow the same training plan can help to keep you accountable in both your workouts and goals.
  • Punctuality: Having a support team behind you in your health and fitness goals often correlates with your “workout buddy.” Having someone or a group to meet at the gym will not only get you there more often, but will also get you there on time.
  • No excuses: There are about a million and one excuses that we all can come up with as to why you won’t get yourself to your workout. But by having a team behind you, the excuses drop quickly and the desire to make less and less of them becomes more and more real.
  • Encouragement: Sometimes we all need a little bit of encouragement to keep us moving along and staying motivated. If you have ever been on any sort of sports team, you quickly learned that the power behind encouragement from more than one person is strong and can really get you going.
  • Social network: As we know, the wide world of social media has exploded and is constantly at our fingertips. And in the exercise world, creating a social network in your workouts beyond face-to-face time in the gym is a great tool to keep yourself on track and “like” what your friends are doing. Exercise is more than fitness; it’s about the social experience involved, too.
  • Motivation: We all have experienced those times in our fitness journey when we have wanted to give up. The demand is too hard, the time we have available is pressing, or the work project gets in the way and we quit. Having a team support system behind you will allow you to get over that roadblock and move in the right direction: forward.

Tri-bikes.jpgTraining within a group or team setting provides you with more than you thought you needed to meet your fitness goals. And training with a group of people who are working for the same thing can be powerful and even unstoppable!

Try NIFS’ Triathlon Training Program

If you are looking for this type of environment, you should try our Women’s Go Girl Triathlon Training Program. Training with a group of 30 women who are all working to cross the finish line at the Eagle Creek Triathlon in August is a fun and empowering thing! Give it a “tri" and challenge yourself to something new!

Early-bird registration is May 10–31. Spots are limited, so register now. To read more about the Go Girl Tri-Training Program, click here.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manger. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS motivation accountability triathlon training program

Music as Motivation: Give Your Workout a “Tune-up”

ThinkstockPhotos-499628790-1.jpgIn a world where trying to gain a competitive edge is at an all-time high, everybody is searching for the next big thing to help bring their workouts to the next level. Many individuals end up using some type of ergogenic aid. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, an ergogenic aid is any substance, mechanical aid, or training method that improves sport performance. Dietary supplements and special equipment are two common avenues that athletes use (sometimes legally and, unfortunately, sometimes illegally).

Consider Music as a Motivational Aid

Do you use any ergogenic aids? You may think that you do not, but chances are you probably do. One of the most popular ergogenics that gym-goers currently utilize is music. “Music?”, you’re probably asking yourself. Yes. I know it does not really fall into the category of substances, mechanical aids, or training methods, but the music can have very similar performance-enhancing effects.

Do you listen to music while you work out? If so, what kind of music do you listen to? For me personally, music allows for a sense of focus to happen. I pick my favorite workout song (Guns N’ Roses: “Welcome to the Jungle”) and I find every bit of energy I have to push through a personal record attempt or final set of a hard training session. That is what training is all about.

In many cases, regardless of the type of exercise you perform, you must break the barrier that stands between you and that next step. Music also allows for a positivity to flow throughout your workout. It makes everything more enjoyable! Let’s face it: if every training session were boring and stagnant, how long would you continue on that program? My guess would be not too long. You have to enjoy yourself to some extent while you are busting your backside, and music might be a way to do that.

My Workout Music Preferences Survey

As I was contemplating music and this blog, I thought to myself, “Alex, does everyone listen to music when they work out? What kind of music do they listen to?” I decided to create a little survey that I sent out to the employees of NIFS to get the cold, hard facts about music. In total, 36 NIFS employees completed the survey. Check out the results below!

What best characterizes the type of exercise you perform most often?

  • Cardiovascular (i.e., running, biking, etc.): 16/36, 44.44%
  • Resistance training: 12/36, 33.33%
  • Cross-training: 4/36, 11.11%
  • Other (please specify): 4/36, 11.11%

Answers included: “Real work—kettlebells” (I wonder who that was), mental exercises, and combinations of resistance and cardiovascular training.

 What type of music do you generally listen to on a day-to-day basis? (not when working out)?

  • Alternative: 3/36, 8.33%
  • Blues: 0/36, 0%
  • Classical: 2/36, 5.56%
  • Country: 4/36, 11.11%
  • Jazz: 0/36, 0%
  • Metal: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Rap: 2/36, 5.56%
  • Pop: 11/36, 30.56%
  • Rock: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Classic rock: 2/36, 5.56%
  • Techno: 1/36, 2.78%
  • I do not listen to music: 0/36, 0%
  • Other (please specify): 9/36, 25%

Answers included: Folk, Christian, Dance/New Age, and combinations of the above genres.

 Do you listen to music while you work out?

  • Yes: 27/36, 75%
  • No: 9/36, 25%

 What genre of music do you listen to while you work out?

  • Alternative: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Blues: 0/36, 0%
  • Classical: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Country: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Jazz: 0/36, 0%
  • Metal: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Rap: 5/36, 13.89%
  • Pop: 11/36, 30.56%
  • Rock: 3/36, 8.33%
  • Classic rock: 1/36, 2.78%
  • Techno: 2/36, 5.56%
  • I do not listen to music: 7/36, 19.44%
  • Other (please specify): 3/36, 8.33%

Answers included: Skrillex, Dance, or “music in my soul OR Jerry’s loud music.”

 If you had to choose only one song to get ready for an intense training session, what would it be? (artist and song name)

Regardless of what type of music you listen to, try to make it part of your exercise routine. If you already do, keep at it. I think it will make your workouts more focused and potentially more fun. As the legend Lil’ John said, “Turn Down for What?” So turn up the volume and rock out with your weights out!

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 Note all songs are trademarks This blog was written by Alex Soller. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS motivation nifs staff workout music

Bored of Your Workout Program? Try a “Wild-Card” Week

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 2.12.51 PM.pngWe’ve all done it. New lifters, old lifters—everyone has experienced that week where your normal training program just doesn’t have the same motivation for you that it did in the past. Monday is chest-tri day, Tuesday is squat, Wednesday is back-bi, so on and so forth. No one is immune to this feeling, especially if you are as religious about following your program as many of the NIFS members are.


Would You Eat the Same Food for Every Meal?

Think about it in terms of food. Do you eat the exact same thing for each meal every day of the week? Some might, but I can guarantee it’s not the most enjoyable thing in the world. However, most people approach planning meals for the week with a slight variation on the meals they prepared the week before: similar main ingredients, but maybe with a different spice or two, which will make a world of a difference. (Mmmmmm, food. I’m getting hungry, so let’s get back to training.)

But what causes this? Why do you all of a sudden just not feel like doing your program for that day or week? The most obvious answer is the fact that you may have been on this program for multiple weeks. Mentally, you are drained from the regimen, and your body is telling you that it might be time to change it up.

I think this is one of the most common training mistakes. Your body is ready for a new challenge or stimulus, but you tell yourself to suck it up and do the same program for another two months. You have seen progress that you’ve made (and recently stalled) with that program and have a hard time thinking you will find anything better. I think many individuals stick to the same program for way too long. This leads to other weeks where you just don’t feel like completing what is assigned for that day.

How to Overcome Workout Boredom

So what do you do, decide to take a week off of training? Not recommended. What I do recommend is to have what I call a wild-card week. In a wild-card week, you choose exercises that work similar movements/muscles to what your normal program targets, but with different (or more fun) exercises.

Here are four typical exercise choices with a “wild” variation to each.


 

 

Remember, your training program should be enjoyable. That is what keeps bringing you back each week. Listen to your body when it is time to switch it up and don’t be afraid to add in a wild-card week to your workouts every once in a while!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Health Fitness Instructor and Athletic Performance Coach. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS fitness center motivation workouts attitude training focus programs

Swimming in the Off Season: A Great Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-77738803.jpegNothing sounds more dreadful to me than putting on my suit to jump into the pool to do some lap swimming on a sub-20-degree winter day (unless, of course, it’s a belly-smacker challenge—then I’m in!). But with the vast benefits that come from swimming, the draw tends to be a little bit enticing (and here are some ideas for finding motivation to swim). When you are looking for what to do with your workouts over the off season, consider giving swimming a try.

Benefits of Swimming

Swimming can offer more benefits than I have time to list, but let’s take a look at what I think the top 6 are. And if swimming really isn’t your thing, keep on reading; I’ll share some other pool workout ideas that don’t involve lap swimming.

  1. Builds endurance, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Considered to be one of the greatest total-body workouts, swimming covers pretty much all the basics that you might want in a workout.
  2. Helps build bone mass and tone muscles. While many think that because swimming is non-weight-bearing, bone density cannot increase, studies have shown differently. Swimming also helps to tone muscles of the body just like strength training does.
  3. Gets heart rate up without the impact on the joints. Most exercises that are cardio based like running and biking take some serious impact on the joints. “Taking the weight off” in the pool allows you to get the blood flowing through your body without the impact from your body that you get from other cardiovascular exercise methods.
  4. Aids in flexibility. With the repetitive stretching that takes place in the different swimming strokes, you can increase flexibility through swimming laps on a regular basis.
  5. Promotes high caloric burn. Depending on the intensity, duration, and stroke, swimming can burn equal to or more calories than going for a run.
  6. Good for the psyche. Like all exercise, swimming releases endorphins into your body, which bring those feel-good emotions. With the stretching that takes place during the strokes along with the rhythmic breathing, swimming can actually help you to relax.

Natatorium Lap Swimming is Now Included in Your NIFS Membership*!

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Other Water Workouts

Maybe you never really learned how to swim, or the water intimidates you. Don’t worry; there are plenty of other water exercises that you can do to get yourself into the pool and comfortable in the water without sacrificing a good workout. To name a few, you can try water aerobics, treading water, step in water (this is like a step class where risers are put into the bottom of the pool), aqua jogging, lap walking, and shallow-water runs.

Take some time to explore the Natatorium pool! NIFS now offers unlimited use of lap swimming at the IUPUI Natatorium (*eligible members only, see details). See the NIFS service desk to get started, and take your off-season training to a new level!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio motivation swimming stretching relaxation

NIFS Slim It to Win It Weight-Loss Competition 2017: Back and Better!

Slimit16pic2.jpegNew year? Yes. Weight-loss goal? Yep. Team competition? Sign me up! It’s time to get ready for our 7th annual team weight-loss competition, Slim It to Win It! If you are looking for an opportunity to participate in team training that provides accountability, nutritional guidance, and an uplifting environment that is designed to help you succeed, this may be your thing!

Slim It to Win It Details

Slim It is an 8-week group training program geared toward seeing you be successful in fat loss. Throughout the eight weeks of training, you will experience what we hope to be a transformational period. Check out the program details:

  • 8 total weeks of group training.
  • Training dates: February 5 to April 1.
  • 16 scheduled 60-minute workout sessions per week with a NIFS coach.
  • Must attend 14 out of 16 group training sessions to be eligible for prizes, track your food in MyFitnessPal, and complete both the pre- and post-competition BodPods.
  • Nutritional guidance through tips, recipes, food tracking, and meal-planning suggestions.
  • Teams of 10 people (up to 4 of whom can be guests to NIFS).
  • Group camaraderie and motivation.
  • Pre- and post-competition BodPod assessments included.
  • Accountability through encouraging, fun, and safe team training!
  • Two participants will be randomly selected to use, at no cost, the My Nutrition Coach app.

Sign Me Up!

Slim-It-logo.jpgHere are the details of how to get registered:

  • Come to the NIFS service desk between January 14 and 28 to register, or call 317-274-3432, ext. 216.
  • Fee is $40 for NIFS members (fee will be waived if you get a nonmember to register also!) and $185 for guests—this includes full membership access for the duration of the program.
  • Upon payment you will receive a label to place your name on the signup board with your preferred coach and training times. SPACE IS LIMITED SO REGISTER EARLY.
  • Schedule your pre- BodPod with a NIFS trainer between January 29 and February 4.
  • Training begins the week of February 5 and runs through April 1.
  • Post BodPod assessment will take place April 2–8.
  • Grand finale: April 10.

Prizes! Who Doesn’t Love Prizes?

The team that loses the highest average percentage of body fat will win the Slim It to Win It competition! Winners will receive three months of free membership upon eligibility above. Also, the top male and female losers will win three months of free membership to NIFS. And lastly, runner-up male and female top losers will receive two months of free Personal Nutrition Coaching with NIFS Registered Dietician Angie Mitchell.

We look forward to walking with you on this journey for 2017!

For more information, visit nifs.org or contact Amanda Bireline or call the service desk at 317-274-3432, ext. 216.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition motivation weight loss group training accountability workout Slim It to Win It BODPOD

7 Benefits of Group Training for Introverts

IMG_0803.jpgWhen most of us hear the personality type words introvert or extrovert, we think of them in terms of how people act when in a crowd or a room full of people. But have you ever thought about it in terms of your exercise environment? Are you the type of person who likes to have their headphones on and work out alone, or are you the more social type that gets more out of your workout when you are in a group or with your exercise partner? While both have their benefits, working out in a group is high on the list for many people today.

Working out with others provides a lot more than just someone to meet at the gym to check the workout off the list for the day. Even those who tend to be more introverted can learn that working out in a group setting can offer you something in the workout session you didn’t even know you were looking for!

Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons working out with others yields greater gains than being alone:

  • Motivation: Working out within a group can provide you with the motivation you would not get while working out on your own. Everyone needs a little motivation sometimes to push themselves to the next level, and working out with others allows that to happen naturally! And there are psychological theories that when others are present, productivity goes up.
  • Accountability: One of the main reasons that people join a group or find a workout partner is for accountability. While some are religious about getting their workout in, a majority of people need a reason to get themselves there. When you have a group that you feel is expecting you to come to class, you are much more apt to get there.
  • Inspiration: Chances are that within a group, someone has a story that will inspire you to keep going. Take time when working out in the group setting to get to know the others, listen, and hear their stories. You never know what will inspire you to keep going.
  • Group camaraderie: Not much needs to be said here; when the feeling of team is present, the connections are powerful!
  • More challenging: If you ever were or are an athlete, you know firsthand that when others are around you tend to perform better. When I played soccer in high school and knew that a college coach was going to be at a game to recruit from the school I wanted to attend, I would bring my A+ game and then some. When working out around others, you naturally challenge yourself more than if you were alone.
  • More enjoyable: Let’s face it, working out with others is so much more fun! When you are by yourself there most likely isn’t too much laughing, joking, and sharing in a challenging experience with others. And to top it off, when the gains are made, there is nothing better than getting to celebrate with someone else.
  • Social interaction: And last but certainly not least, we all need a little social interaction in our lives! Even the most introverted person needs to have interaction with other people, and what better place to do it than working out, since a majority of your time is exercising and not talking!

With all the benefits of working out in a group setting, it’s no wonder that so many people gravitate in that direction. If you are looking for a great way to break into the mold of group training and are considering the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon this year, sign up now for NIFS Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program! Experience the benefits of training in a group firsthand! Training starts January 25, 2017!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: motivation group training accountability challenge 5k Mini-Marathon Training Program personality type introvert

NIFS Lifestyle Rx Program Member Robyn Britt


Thanksgiving has come and gone and its time to look forward to the holiday season that is fast approaching! What better way to start, and save some cash, than with NIFS’ 9th Annual Online Auction! The Online Auction was created to help sustain scholarship opportunities for some of the members of the NIFS Lifestyle Rx Program.

The Lifestyle Rx Program provides extra guidance and observation to individuals with chronic medical concerns. A NIFS’s Lifestyle Coordinator communicates with the participant’s physician and helps plan workouts geared to his or her specific medical needs. The scholarship component of the program is determined on a needs basis and allows for some participants who are unable to work, due to their physical limitations, to come in and get the help and guidance they need at NIFS.

I would like to highlight a current member of the Lifestyle Rx Program, Robyn Britt. Please take a few moments to watch the video and listen to Robyn's journey!


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Auction Information

Our Online Auction begins Friday November 25 and runs through Monday December 19 at 11:00pm. There are a lot of great items that everyone can enjoy so be sure to get your bid on today!

AuctionImage.jpgFor questions about the Lifestyle Rx Program please contact Rebecca Newbrough at 317-274-3432 ext. 263  rnewbrough@nifs.org.

This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.


 

Topics: exercise motivation weight loss member NIFS programs health lifestyle

Fitness Goal Setting: Why You Should (and How NIFS Can Help)

ThinkstockPhotos-487716564.jpgYou hear it all the time: “Set your goals—it’s that time of year again!” I can assure you that this will not be the last time you hear about goal setting, either. The types of goals that you can set are endless: professional goals, personal goals, financial goals, exercise goals, and the list goes on. Well, goal setting is actually something vital to being as successful as possible, and has some extremely significant benefits to keep you focused and accountable, as well as help you measure progress. These benefits apply to all types of goals, so let’s take a closer look at why you should participate in goal setting.

1: Goals Help You to Move Forward—Energizer

Setting specific goals helps you to set your mind to something, to have direction, and to stay focused. They give you something to plan and work for, so when you begin to lose that motivation and focus, you are pushed quickly back on track. We all have those inner desires, and having goals allows those inner desires to move outward.

2: Goals Set You Up for Success and Positive Self Image—Confidence Booster

Having goals in place can definitely set you up for success and allow you the opportunity to boost your confidence and attitude. When you have specific goals and eventually are able to accomplish them, a part of you becomes proud of what you have done—and rightfully so! When you achieve those goals, you allow yourself to set even larger ones and boost the image that you have of yourself and what you can do.

3: Goals Help the Impossible Become Possible—Mountains Become Hills

We all have big dreams, and sometimes those dreams seem like they could never become reality. When you take the impossible goals that you have and create baby steps or smaller goals, that “impossible feat” suddenly becomes a small incline uphill, rather than a climb to the Everest summit. Setting goals and a realistic approach to achieving them allows you to really make something of what you truly hoped for.

4: Goals Help You Be Accountable for a Lack of Success—Accountability

Writing down concrete goals and setting a date of completion keeps you accountable. But in the event that something prevented you from accomplishing that goal, you can look back and learn from it. And it’s no secret that one of the best ways humans learn is from our mistakes. So instead of putting your tail between your legs if you don’t achieve what you wanted, allow it to be a teachable moment and grow from it.

5: Goals Stretch You—Make You Better

Putting specific and challenging goals ahead of yourself stretches you and makes you better. They push you out of your comfort zone, making you grow and realize how much you really are capable of doing. We all want to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and setting goals that challenge you allows you to do that.

So what are your goals? What is on that list in the back of your mind that you thought was impossible? Pull it out, strategize the stepping stones you need to take to get there, and start!

If one of those goals is to complete that 5K or half marathon you have thought was impossible, let 2017 be the year to achieve it! Let NIFS help you take those baby steps to achieve your goal through our Mini-Marathon Training Program. Our group training programs will help you take that goal and make it a reality! Early bird registration starts October 25th!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise motivation goal setting group training mini marathon accountability attitude challenge goals 5k

Crucial Conversations: I Have 99 Problems, But My (NIFS) Gym Isn’t One

karen8.29.16.jpgFor the next installment of Crucial Conversations, a series where I have a chat with some very inspirational individuals and share it with all of you, I speak with a woman who needs no elaborate introduction. That’s because not only is she pretty well known around these parts, but also because she wouldn’t have it.

She is about the business of being fit and staying fit, no frills or fancy Instagram posts, just the business, and business is good. I am referring to longtime NIFS member Karen. I had the opportunity to ask Karen a few questions about being an “ageless warrior,” what keeps her motivated, and why she continues to make NIFS her fitness home. Join me as we uncover some of the things that make this amazing individual tick!

Tony: Tell me a little about yourself.

Karen: I was born in Indianapolis in 1958 and attended Arlington High School. During my time at Arlington I ran track and field and played volleyball. I got married in 1983, and my son was born in 1984.

Tony: Besides being a high school athlete, have you always been generally healthy, fit, and active?

Karen: I used to do workout videos, when they were popular, with my young son. At the young age of 25 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure [hypertension] after the birth of my son. This was hard for me to process due to my healthy lifestyle and healthy nature. It was something that I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. I began to feel restless and my life was becoming too mundane. I hated only being able to go to work and go home every day. At this point in my life I began to become depressed. I felt that I was not accomplishing anything in my life.

Tony: How did you make the change to pull yourself out of the rut you were in?

Karen: My son was in school and doing after-school activities, and my husband was heavily involved in church, and as a firefighter he was gone from home at least two days a week. I wanted to have something of my own; I wanted a place to go to meet and talk to people, a place where I could better myself every time I was there. I felt that the only place it could be was the gym. During this time I had fallen even deeper into depression, but by April of 1994 that would all change. My husband began working out at NIFS, and I would ask him where he was going to work out and he stated NIFS. He eventually purchased a membership for me, and it was the greatest gift he ever gave me. I joined NIFS and I have been a member for 22 years.

Tony: So how did you get started?

Karen: I began to look into going to group fitness classes. Every time I became stronger and the classes became easier for me, so I would begin going to more advanced classes. I started with step, spinning, and boxing, but my true transformation began when I began taking HIT class and group training. I was in the first Slim It to Win It competition, and to compete with other members was very exciting. Each time I would look for the next challenge to accomplish. I felt my body getting stronger and my endurance was increasing; I was feeling better about myself and my life, and I was looking forward to each limit I could cross.

Tony: What has created the most change for you?

Karen: I would have to say that my change came with the challenges I faced to make myself better in the gym. I began noticing these changes when I was able to go farther and longer than I could before. I felt this process could never end; if I worked at it, I would be able to surpass all of my limits, and with each and every class I knew there would be a new challenge for me to defeat. I’ve been able to make new friends, and for me exercising is a way of life. I am the result of hard work, I am in great shape for someone who is 57 years old, and I feel that my medical issues are very minor due to the effort and time that I have put in at NIFS. It has also allowed me to deal with stress, and it gives me a generally positive outlook on life. I would like to thank all of the trainers who have helped me along the way with my transformation, especially Tony Maloney.

***

I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing lady the first day I arrived here at NIFS eight years ago, and have had the continued honor to work with her in so many different capacities. From BOSU class, HIT, Slim It to Win It, and group training, Karen has seen and done it all, and has not just done it but done it well! She took on a nickname I gave her a few years back: “Grumpy”; but those who know her know that she is far from it. But she is focused, and when there is work to be done, she is all business.

Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise depression fitness center motivation member group training HIT Slim It to Win It Crucial Conversations student athletes hypertension making changes

Software Update: Why Mindset Is Crucial to Fitness Success

ThinkstockPhotos-524261293.jpgI recently attended the Perform Better 3-Day Functional Training Summit in Chicago, where the leaders of the fitness world converged to drop a whole bunch of knowledge and inspiration on fitness pros. I have been attending this, what Alex refers to as a “Fitness Concert,”every year since I started at NIFS. It is something I really look forward to yearly, and this year was even better because I had seven other NIFS pros with me. Just as in recent years, it was a great experience of learning, refocus, and reenergizing.

Attitude: A Missing Puzzle Piece

But this year I left with a different feeling than in the past. I felt that I had been missing a very important piece of the success puzzle for so long, and it had nothing to do with movement. It was probably the most powerful of everything I took away from the “concert.” Most years I cultivate new ways to challenge the body through movement and methods of training, as well as grab a few great ideas about how to help people see what their true self is truly capable of. But not this year. Now don’t get me wrong, those topics were presented, and I enjoyed hearing those concepts, but they did not create the biggest impact for me this time around. The biggest idea that created the most impact for me was that MINDSET matters the most in fitness (and really anything you want to accomplish).

Brian Grasso was the presenter who really changed the way I think about creating change, and really blew my mind (pun intended) by revealing that life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem. I am a huge believer that things happen for a reason, and me choosing to see Brian’s presentation that day in Chicago was on purpose. In a previous post I wrote about an experience attending Wanderlust and the impact the concept of mindfulness had on me, and no more than a month later I was sitting listening to Brian talk about why mindset matters the most in anything we wish to be successful in, or to create change.

“Life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem.”

My Top 5 Takeaways from the Perform Better Presentation

Brian presented so much in a short amount of time—far more than I could do justice to in a single post. But here are my top 5 takeaways from his life-changing presentation.

Mindset is not motivation. Mindset is understanding YOU and how you see and interpret the world, and how you fit into it. Motivation, or motivational speeches and activities, tends to be short-lived with a crash at the end. This cycle is similar to illicit drug use; it provides an intense high followed by an equal low. This will result in two things: the want for more of that feeling, and the feeling of failure. Brian gave the perfect example by presenting the question, “Why are Tony Robbins motivational speaking engagements always sold out?” He provides that emotional response, making people feel great, but eventually that high goes away and people are left to their original problems, and feel the need to go back and get more motivation without focusing on the main issue: a negative mindset. 

The unconscious mind drives your life: Our unconscious mind drives our lives and shapes our world. It serves as our software for our behaviors. Our software can be shaped by the sequence of the unconscious which is:

Influence            Perceptions      Belief System      Expectation
(we incur)           (we carry)           (we accept)            (we hold)

These are some pretty powerful drivers for our behavior; knowing what is driving the behavior allows us to really change a lifestyle that needs help. Our software (unconscious) can be classified as either fixed or dynamic. Fixed is thinking what you see is the absolute truth; this mindset is usually negative. A dynamic mindset is “rewriting” the unconscious and seeing yourself in other ways. Another great example Brian provided to drive home this point was this: when you purchased your new iPod, you didn’t find your favorite music on it when you pulled it from the box. You had to download the songs you wanted. Your unconscious, so to speak, works the same way; if you don’t like the song that is replaying in your head, CHANGE THE SONG!

Perceptions that we carry don’t have to be our story. Brian said something that really spoke to me: “We talk to ourselves like we would not let anyone in the world talk to us.” Simply, our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and that it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that. But we do it to ourselves every day. This negative self-talk stems from the perceptions we carry about ourselves, others, and life in general. These perceptions can hold us back from making real change. Brian described the story of circus elephants and how they are tethered to a post by a rope tied around one of their four legs. At a very young age, a much smaller rope is used to tie them, which is strong enough to keep them there. As the elephant ages, trainers would use the same size rope, even though the elephant could easily break through it. But they don’t…why? Because the elephant is conditioned to believe that the tiny little rope is strong enough to hold him back. Do you see how strong perceptions of ourselves can be, and how mindset is the key to unlocking potential? 

Conscious vs. unconscious. So the unconscious mind is considered the driver and where behavior is created through impulse. It is believed that the unconscious mind already knows the right answer, and the only job of the conscious mind is to make the unconscious story true. Conscious choices create behavior through action, and this is where most of today’s self-help strategies engage, at the conscious level. But if most decisions are already made, and the story of YOU happens in the unconscious mind, these strategies will be unsuccessful. “We concentrate on amending physical behaviors without recognition of the drivers behind them,” Brian said. I equate this idea with something I feel I know a great deal about, movement. If you have a bad movement pattern (negative mindset), and you load that movement pattern (self-help at the conscious level), you will simply reinforce that bad movement pattern (negative mindset). On this point, Brian shared a quote from Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sophie Henschaw; she states, “The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results is an inner struggle.” Pretty powerful statement considering we as a society have become so reliant on the development of goals and daily affirmations as strategies for success. But if we take time to consider that the deeper portion of our mind is what is really driving our behavior, it only makes sense that, for sustainable change, the focus is on the unconscious and strategies that deal directly with that level of the mind.

“Our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that.”

It’s a story, plain and simple: Mindset, as stated above, is understanding YOU and your story. Your story is developed through that sequence of the unconscious (influences-perceptions-belief system-expectation), and awareness of that sequence is a powerful first step. Because here is the thing: you can change your story. It doesn’t have to be fixed! You don’t have to respond to influences with negative actions or thoughts. You do not have to carry those influences that do not lead you down a positive path. And if your belief system is based on principles and not personality and environment, it will be more apt to deal with the changing world around you.

Bottom line is, if you want to change your life, update your software and change your story. I leave you with another impactful quote that Brian shared with the group:

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
—Carl Jung

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness fitness center motivation attitude functional movement mindfulness mindset