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Reset your exercise mindset

Intent and meditation are important assets in achieving fitness goals.

For high-performers, the start of a new year inspires the opportunity to cleanse mental and physical buildup from the past, and focus on constructive ways to achieve your fitness goals. Furthermore has partnered with science-based haircare company Living Proof to celebrate the launch of their Perfect hair Day™ Triple Detox Shampoo, which removes hair and scalp buildup (from product, hard water, and pollution). Together, we present The Cleanse Movement, featuring actionable, inspiring ways to cleanse your fitness mindset and routine, and unlock your true potential.

Whether it’s finally nailing a personal record or getting leaner, the focus of an athletic goal usually falls on the physical—how the body moves, how much it lifts, and how far it can run, swim, or stretch. While boosting your physical capacities is essential for fitness achievement, there’s another facet that’s equally as important: your mind. Commit to your exercise regimen by cultivating meaningful intentions beforehand. This will center you and encourage mindfulness during fitness. “Being fully present and aware while you’re exercising helps your workouts become more effective and efficient, because you’ll be paying attention to how your body feels and what it needs,” says Michael Gervais, creator of Equinox’s HeadStrong meditations, and director of group fitness talent and development in New York City. Focus can aid in warding off injuries—since you’re more cognizant of bodily discomfort—and cultivating worthwhile intentions and motivation.

Here, three strategies for bringing mindfulness into your 2019 fitness goals.

Start with intent.
If you’re really looking to see progress, it’s not enough to just show up to the gym.

“For many people, going to work out becomes so automatic that it’s easy to forget why you’re there in the first place,” says Miriam Parker, a Tier 2 trainer at Flatiron in New York City and certified yoga and meditation teacher. “Doing things with intent helps you make decisions that are more aligned with what you want or need. You therefore have a clearer sense of purpose, and leave the session feeling more accomplished.”

For a big picture approach, take a moment to think about what you hope to achieve during the next three or four months—like training for your first marathon or starting a yoga practice—and what you hope it can bring you. Maybe it’s a sense of confidence or the chance to carve out some personal time in a busy schedule.

On a more micro level, before each workout, think about what exercises you are going to do and why you’re doing them, whether it’s to find serenity before a tough workday ahead or tone up your arms so you feel stronger. “You can close your eyes and visualize these intentions or take time to write them down—both will help honor what you set out to do and strengthen the mind-body connection,” says Parker.

Mid-workout, harness the power of meditation.
A valuable way to bring clarity and focus to exercise is by incorporating a few minutes of meditation at various points during your workouts. “Breath-based meditation is one of the easiest ways to connect the mind and body,” says Gervais.

During your mid-workout recovery periods, stop completely, and breathe in for four full counts, and out for four full counts, for one to three minutes, depending on how you feel and how long you need to recover. Try to repeat this at least a few times during workouts lasting 45 minutes or longer. “Focusing on the breath draws your attention on what’s happening with you, not around you, so you can assess how much you can push yourself, and if you need to make any changes in your intensity or speed,” says Gervais. “Doing deep breathing also brings your nervous system into the parasympathetic state, which is a relaxed state where your muscles recover, so you can really get more out of your workout.”

At the end, do a body scan.
Before you head for the showers, check in with yourself by doing a full-body scan. “A body scan is a helpful type of meditation for athletes because it connects your mind to physical sensations,” says Gervais. “It trains the mind to focus, pay attention, and filter out noise, so that you can notice and potentially act on what you are feeling.”

Find a quiet place to sit, and, starting with your head and working your way down consider each part of your body for five to ten seconds to check for tension or pain. If you notice that a particular area is tight or tender, you might spend more time addressing that through foam rolling, stretching, or physical therapy. Like a breath-based meditation, a body scan also brings you into a parasympathetic state, Gervais adds, so you’ll be activating a healthy recovery even before you leave the gym.