Mindfulness and fitness: a mighty combination as a habit not hashtag

I’m missing my gym sessions at FF. It’s been a huge adaptation. Firstly trying to lock down equipment amidst the train from home equipment rush. Plus there’s also the mindset shift required.

Every year, a handful of ideas or philosophies have a tendency to trend in popularity.

These ideas then become movements that frequently manifest as popular hashtags masses tend to get behind.

One of these emerging trends is very relevant to our current times: #mindfulness. (close to 20 million instagram posts at time of writing)

The irony being the manner in which people act out or display their adoption of the practice only serves to highlight the absence of the skill or habit being enthusiastically espoused.

The origin of mindfulness is steeped in many different ecclesiastical practices, including the obvious ones of Hinduism or Buddhism, in addition to fields like yoga and meditation.

Mindfulness can be simplified for better understanding to a couple of key aspects.

  • Forming a habit of paying better attention.
  • Living in the moment with an improved ability of suspending judgment.

Simultaneously mindfulness is being less reactive, like a slave, to our past conditioning and routines.

Mindfulness is an ability, if you will, to become like a masterful mind surfer.

One adept in the practice of mindfulness skillfully navigates the barrage of big surf emotional waves and thoughts that are a constant current in our minds.

Allowing those tides, no matter if torrential floods or flatter streams, to naturally flow.  What’s more, to do so without getting attached looking for the ultimate wave to joyride or be smashed up in their churn.

There are so many documented benefits, both scientific and anecdotal, for adopting the habit of mindfulness.

It might be a reduction in stress or an increase in focus. It could manifest as an improvement in resilience. Furthermore those gains, physical and mental, also translate to improved emotional intelligence, creativity and even collaboration.

This overall shift in improved physical and mental well being sets you up for greater success. Not only in your fitness regimes but also other, often more important, aspects of life.

Here are four quick tips to improve your overall competence in mindfulness during periods where normal training routines have been disrupted. Some to be more mindful of perhaps as we remerge.



1) Be Where You Are

There’s many gym moments that are hashtagged #mindfulness where it’s clear the espouser has taken a stream of selfies to capture perfect form or physique. Often in between sets, navigating edits and filters. to make the magic moment look just right.

This impossible chasing of perfection (what is that anyway) is the anti thesis of mindfulness in action.

If you are looking to build your online following, selfies  and videos might well be an essential part of your strategy. Perhaps it’s better done with a habit of actually being where you are.

When training, train. Treat your photo shoots as a separately planned activity. Or, if you really wish to be mindful, have a training buddy capture truly ‘candid’ shots as you train.

Keep your focus then later, with less filters or edits, select the best authentic shots.

‘Be where you are’ is sound advice for every aspect of life. In this down time of isolated training it’s been a great opportunity to learn this habit.

When you’re in the gym working out, be there. If you are out with your friends for quality social time, then put down the phones, worry less about the selfies and be there too.

Be where you are.



2) Suspend Judgement

We can become so fixed in our mindsets and beliefs. This relates to our fitness routines, business regimes or even broader lifestyle and relationship habits.

Yes, there might well be classic wisdom that stands the test of time. For example highlighting obvious poor form or mis use of equipment at the gym may be something to chortle at or leverage as an educational tool.

That said, provided some classic principles are considered and accounted for there are always other perspectives to ponder.

We see this in the gym for strength, toning or training, or even in the kitchen for nutrition and diet.

We often hear and see new insights from credible specialists who are finding methods to mix things up.

A fixed mindset often shows itself through our instant opinions.

An open mindset, or a growth mindset, is seen through less haste to jump to judgments of right or wrong.

You can rest assured that in this period of massive change and adaptability, an open mindset and innovation in fitness and nutrition will emerge. We’ve already been seeing these ideas shared through media.

Mindfulness is a combination of gratitude for classic wisdom married with an open mind and less judgement.



3) Notice Your Body And Your Environment

So many people are attached to their newest robotic limb. A smart phone.

Try instead to notice your breathing, your body and even your broader environment.

Take those workouts for example. In lieu of selfies or videos during your work out, use the time in between sets to pay closer attention to your breathing and your body. Channel your energy and focus there.

When you start to pay attention again to the real world, not the virtual one, news feeds or status updates, you might be amazed at the clarity you see or creative ideas that spring to mind.

An increased acumen of all your senses, sights, sounds, smells and sensations both inside and out (a little like the Cullen vampire family in the ‘Twilight’ series) is a good indication of mindfulness at work.

Isolation and social distancing have, vicariously or serendipitously, been a catalyst for many people to revisit their values in this regard.


4) Meditation

Mindfulness can be encouraged, improved and mastered through a regular, if not daily, practice of meditation.

Meditation is a skill itself which many people find difficult to get into or master. I’ll be writing an extended piece to help identify specific practices for meditation. It’s something I’ve embraced for close to 20 years.

For now, the first step, if you’re not already taking it, is to allow a short period of time on your calendar, ideally daily, to quiet your mind.

You don’t need to spend hours surrounded by candles or whale music.

In fact there are many reasons why first thing in the morning, 15 minutes only, simply focusing on following ones breath will induce mindfulness into ones life.

Government and specialist bodies are predicting there will be an increase in the number of people facing mental health challenges.

Isolation, social distancing and the stresses associated with financial pressures or job security will add to the existing havoc.

Meditation might help silence some of the negative self talk, inner doubts and minimise some of the worry, anxiety and stress.



Mindfulness can be like a muscle. The more you work it the stronger it will grow.

To simplify or summarise the journey of turning mindfulness from a hashtag to a daily habit ponder this:

Calmness of mind is a priceless gift one mindfully gifts to self.


Feature Image: Chase Kinney – Unsplash