These seemingly opposite practices strike the perfect balance between yin and yang.
“We used to see meditation and mindfulness as separate from high intensity interval training, but we are learning that they are perfect complements,” says Michael Gervais, yoga instructor at Equinox in New York City and senior manager of group fitness talent. “With a combination of HIIT and mindfulness, we are simultaneously training the body and the brain, sharpening the memory and boosting the production of new brain cells all while burning fat and building strength."
That’s the idea behind the new Headstrong meditation podcasts, which Gervais created, that you can listen to before a HIIT workout (or any form of fitness for that matter). "Doing a short meditation before exercising can reduce injury risk and recovery time," says Gervais.
Though Headstrong is designed to be done on its own, this routine actually marries the mindfulness of meditation with the intensity of HIIT. “With this type of workout, we are stimulating brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), a protein that works like Miracle Grow on your brain cells,” says Gervais. “BDNF is intensity- and complexity-dependent, so the harder you challenge yourself, the more you’ll get out of it.” The routine also targets every major muscle group in your body.
“Give yourself positive cues such as “I can do this” to push past what you think is possible,” says Gervais. For a less intense, more mindful practice, follow the breath cues between each exercise. For a more intense routine, skip them. Run through the following sequence once as a movement prep for another workout or for a physical reset. Do it twice to work up a sweat.