“Giiirrrrrl, that abs and those arms! How do you do it?”
That is the question I get asked a lot lately and as I was doing my morning workout, I pondered upon the question.
How do I do it?
I have had the opportunity to observe some of the members of my boxing studio a few times as I waited to be called to the ring for a padding session.
As I watched this group of people going through their warm-up routine with a trainer, I noticed a significant point as a fitness teacher.
These people worked so hard. They moved so fast and breathing so hard and yet, they have missed a point that makes all the difference.
Nearly all of them were attacking and moving blindly, not really paying attention to what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
Let me tell you a little secret.
When you’re in a fitness class, your teacher can actually tell when your mind is not in the game.
After you teach for quite some time, you can actually identify the telltale signs when someone’s mind has drifted off to a far far away land.
Unfocused gaze, wrong alignments, limbs flying everywhere, to name the few.
What separates a toned body and one that is less toned? How can you tone your body?
Everything takes time. It’s a well known adage and everyone knows this.
Same thing applies with toning up our bodies.
There is no shortcut. Unfortunately. However, it is possible to tone up our bodies in less time than it usually takes. It improves our energy consumption and it keeps us motivated.
Insert awareness into the equation.
It sounds easy. Well, it’s anything but. And it takes time until it becomes automatic.
Awareness is the key to toning up the body in less amount of time as well as the answer to the question “Why am I not toned even though I workout like hell?”
First of all, check your motivation to exercise. Is it because you want to be like a size zero model? Yeah, been there, done that. I was miserable, it didn’t work for the long run and it devoured me inside out. But let’s leave motivation for another post.
Instead, today we’re going to unpack awareness in movements.
What is in your mind when you move? Not just workout but also when you walk in the street, for example.
Do you have earphones on? Do you stare at your phone all the time? Are you always distracted by your surroundings?
Do you notice the movements of the muscles inside your body as you move? Do you contract and release your muscles as you move? Do you realize what’s happening inside your body as you move?
Those are two different things you do when you move and each will give you a different result.
When I move, I make sure I’m aware of each and every muscle I’m using.
To do this, you first have to know which muscle(s) you’re using when you’re doing a movement. You either teach yourself (Youtube, books or fitness apps) or you (really) LISTEN to your instructors (I can’t stress enough how important it is to really listen).
Then, you make sure you contract and engage the muscles you need for the movement you’re doing, by PUTTING 100% AWARENESS ON THE MUSCLES YOU NEED TO USE.
For examples, when I’m doing crunches, I am fully aware of my abdominal muscles. I can feel them pulling my upper body off the floor as I contract and engage them. Same goes with push up, for example, I feel my abs muscles tighten, giving me the extra help to push myself back up as the muscles in my arms do their work.
Too many times I’ve seen people just moving without awareness of what their muscles are doing. Their bodies might be in the class but their minds are elsewhere.
Results are harder to achieve when you’re not fully THERE.
You’ll also feel more grounded if you’re able to pull yourself back into your body because that’s exactly what it is.
The key to toned body.
Pulling yourself from the outside into your inside and being fully present in the moment.
You’ll notice the gradual change.
You no longer need as much energy, you run out of breath less than you usually do, you’re more in tune with your body and the next thing you know, you look in the mirror and your body is toned!
It’s no magic. It’s no sorcery. It’s attainable and everyone can do it. You just need to know what to do.
Move with awareness, move efficiently and most importantly, HAVE FUN!