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Why group fitness could be the key to your 2017 health goals

Why group fitness could be the key to your 2017 health goals

When you think about joining a fitness program, you usually think of it as an individual effort. True, you might desire to attain the fitness of a certain friend or acquaintance, but they too maintain an individual training routine. Whether you’re interested in strength training, aerobics, meditation, or yoga, you only think of such fitness programs based on personal preferences. Your choices are not determined by what others want, but what you want. You would not think of starting on meditation just because others are meditating. Even the gym you join most probably only offers packages for an individual.

    Nevertheless, have you ever thought about team-based fitness programs? Have you ever considered approaching fitness as a group, and not as an individual? Now imagine, what if the choice of a gym, fitness exercises, and frequency of exercises, was elevated above your preferences to be a group decision? This article will review potential advantages that justify a group fitness program. Team-based fitness programs have become a significant trend in modern gyms, becoming even more popular by the day, and it is important to understand why.

    Why choose team exercise?

    People have always recognized the value of team-driven fitness programs but never acknowledged it. Consider this: many of the people who join a first class gym for aerobic exercises can afford to have a few machines at home for the exercises. They may even have an excellent swimming pool, and a spare room to convert to an exercise room. Yet even if they can afford to, they prefer exercising in a local gym where others will also frequent. What they are doing then, is unconsciously responding to the need for a social context where they exercise alongside others.

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      It is easier to maintain a diligent and consistent training routine when you are a patron of a gym than you can ever hope for when exercising in isolation. That is the reason why the most successful bodybuilders and fitness gurus have almost always been members of a publicly-available gym and not a personal gym. Subscribing to a gym where you can train alongside others helps build a discipline, a commitment, and an innate desire to attain optimal fitness that wouldn’t be possible on your own.

      Advantages of Group Fitness Programs

      1. Transforming Competitors into Allies

      Now consider this: an acquaintance of yours seems to have been born in a gym. They have managed to chisel out a body shape that belongs to magazine covers. You respect and privately admire his or her fitness achievements, and would only wish to attain just a percentage of their success. Well, you can hate, avoid, and ignore them as you try to pursue the same end, if not better, on your own. That however, does not help as much as it would if both of you followed the same fitness program. Imagine how easy it would be for you to follow a fitness program alongside a person who motivates you and gives you a few secrets that really work. Then you could stop being competitors and become allies in pursuit of optimal fitness. As such, one of the reasons you should join group fitness is the potential to surround yourself with positive energy, where you train alongside those you respect and admire.

      2. Learning From The Team

      Having allies in a fitness program ensures that you train alongside people with whom you share a goal. Not only do you have common interests and preferences, but you are also chasing the same outcome. This means that they will probably know something you do not, and vice versa. Group fitness programs thus give you a platform to share with others, compare different approaches, and select the best routines based on results.

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      Eventually, the fitness program becomes more than finishing a few exercises, and gradually transforms into a learning opportunity towards attaining optimal fitness. You start taking fitness training seriously, and it stops being a trial and error routine, since you can now use a single training instructor and consult the most advanced manual together. As such, joining a group fitness program will help to increase the opportunity and outcomes of learning about fitness training.

      3. Building on Collective Motivation

      Exercising with a team replaces the ‘me’ perspective in fitness training with a ‘we’ perspective. After a tough day at the office, you stop saying “I don’t feel like going for exercises today,” and start saying “and we still have to go for exercises today.” It would have taken personal motivation to abide by a fitness training program if it was an individual program. However, being a team adds a collective motivation to abide by the fitness schedule, regardless of your mood. Your discipline and commitment is fired up by the collective dynamics of the group.

        4. Gaining a Team’s Psyche When Approaching Challenges

        Maintaining a devout fitness training calendar or schedule is often discouraged by numerous challenges you meet along the way. Like that time when your muscles are hurting, when you feel like your ligaments are torn and you cannot even manage to squat, let alone follow rigorous compound exercises. When something is highly recommended but you cannot even think about trying it, being a part of a group gives you the mindset to give it a go.

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        Your challenging exercises stop being an option and become part of your training goal when you are in a team. You might have joined fitness training to eliminate stress levels in your life, but even after that, the group will keep you improving. You will have to approach challenges with a team mentality and soon enough, they stop being challenges. Joining a group fitness program is perhaps the easiest route to overcoming your training fears as well as personal stress.

          5. Elevating the Value of Fitness

          Finally, joining group fitness programs elevates the priority of fitness training in your to-do list. You might desire to lose that weight or get a solid six-pack, but the cost of getting that is not reflected in your lifestyle. Group fitness training however, challenges that lifestyle to the core. You keep the time, consistency, and routine set for exercises not because you feel like, but because that is what the team has agreed upon. You will attend some sessions halfheartedly, and some you would otherwise avoid, but the outcomes will justify the team discipline. Group-based training helps make a fitness program more than a personal decision, and you embrace it in your daily routine as something that is part of your personal preferences and wishes. Soon it becomes a habit and a discipline you are used to, a state that is very difficult with personal exercise.

          In conclusion, the benefits of group fitness programs outweigh the advantages of personal training programs. Tapping into the group mentality can help you keep a disciplined diet formula, maintain training routines, and optimize fitness training in ways that would otherwise be impossible if the training was based on your choices and moods. The five benefits explained above, are only some of the advantages that justify why you should join a team-driven fitness program. When it is all said and done, you may train as a team, but the fitness you consolidate is yours and yours alone. That was your goal, after all, from the very beginning.

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          Image Credits:

          Trainer assisting group of people with stretching exercise Via Freepik, Group of people performing stretching exercise Via Freepik, Billy blanks tae bo workout Via Pixabay, Group of people performing tree-pose yoga exercise Via Freepik

          Featured photo credit: yanalya via freepik.com

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          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

          Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

          Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

          I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

          You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

          Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

          When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

          I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

          Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

          Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

          Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

          1. The Inner Critic

          This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

          • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
          • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
          • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
          • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

          The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

          Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

          2. The Worrier

          This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

          The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

          3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

          This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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          This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

          The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

          4. The Sleep Depriver

          This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

          The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

          • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
          • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
          • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
          • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

          How can you control these squatters?

          How to Master Your Mind

          You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

          Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

          There are two ways to control your thoughts:

          • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
          • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

          This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

          The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

          Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

          For the Inner Critic

          When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

          You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

          For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

          You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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          “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

          If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

          • They rile up the Worrier.
          • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
          • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
          • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
          • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

          Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

          Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

          For the Worrier

          Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

          Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

          You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

          • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tense

          Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

          If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

          Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

          “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

          Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

          If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

          Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

          Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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          For example:

          If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

          “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

          Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

          “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

          Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

          For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

          Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

          The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

          • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tension

          I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

          Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

          Breathe in through your nose:

          • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
          • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
          • Focus on your belly rising.

          Breathe out through your nose:

          • Feel your lungs emptying.
          • Focus on your belly falling.
          • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

          Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

          Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

          One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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          Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

          For the Sleep Depriver

          (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

          I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

          Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

          1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
          2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

          When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

          From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

          For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

          If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

          You can also use this technique any time you want to:

          • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
          • Shut down your thinking.
          • Calm your feelings.
          • Simply focus on the present moment. 

          The Bottom Line

          Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

          You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

          Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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