Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (mostly) on Sundays. Enjoy!
My Online Personal Training Journey – Meditation via Movement
February always catches me a bit on the hop. I’m no sooner over the sheer joy of it not being January any more than it seems to be March again. As such it’s time for my monthly update on my adventures with callisthenics. I’ll be honest I’m still not feeling like posting progress pictures but there has been a change, more in my outlook than anything else.
Last month was about moving backward to go forward, getting form correct to get full benefit from an exercise and I was on board with that but it still chafed. My life tends to be extremely goal driven and while I had accepted the need to take a few steps back, they still felt like steps back and a little uncomfortable.
I’ve realised this month that there was a fundamental disconnect in my approach here. Taking steps back being retrograde implied that there was a discrete goal to reach and that’s just not true. I’m on this path because I want to get healthier and stronger yes, but there’s no end goal I’m working towards, it’s a continuum. My trainer, Steve, has been doing callisthenics for 12 years and while he does some pretty involved exercises, he also continues with basic callisthenics, sometimes weighted, sometimes not, and it’s all done very slowly.
It struck me that I was rushing through my exercises as if I had to get somewhere when I just don’t. Exercise time, even the small amounts I do on a daily basis, is a time I put aside for myself and my own well being. When I do the same with my guitar I don’t rush through a bunch of scales as quickly as possible. I savour the time I have to play and enjoy the fact that I am taking a little time to spend on myself. I don’t know why I had never thought to apply the same approach to my callisthenics.
What seemed most obvious when I thought about it was that the closest parallel is with meditation. My meditation time is 20 minutes I put aside for my mental well being. There is no end goal, the purpose of meditation is simply to practice being in awareness, it’s a joy because it does me good and because there’s something psychologically rewarding to allow yourself some time for self-care. Armed with this new knowledge I found a new passion in my strength work. Knowing there’s no goal I’m not rushing to complete a set because I know that rushing means I get less value. I’m also not rushing because this is ‘me time’ and why would I try and compress that? I’ve stopped seeing a set of 20 push-ups because that’s not what I’m doing. I’m doing 1 push up as well as I possibly can, usually that means slowly.
It doesn’t make a push up any easier, it certainly doesn’t make rows any easier but not thinking about getting through a set and simply savouring the exercise means my enjoyment has increased tenfold.
I used to genuinely dread squats, not because they’re hardest (that’s rows) but because it’s a 40 rep set and in my mind that ‘took ages’. By simply removing the negative connotation with something taking ages, I allow myself to enjoy the exercise in full awareness being glad that I have the time to do it.
Just like my meditation focuses on breathing, this meditation focuses on movement. In focusing on the exact moment I am in I find a serenity I’ve not experienced before with exercise. My arms still hurt though.