By Carrie Myers
Do your clients and participants struggle to maintain focus during their workouts? Long the domain of traditional mind-body workouts like yoga and Pilates, mindfulness has made its way into mainstream fitness activities as well. In fact, increasing mindfulness in just about any type of workout not only helps increase its effectiveness, but could potentially lower one’s risk of injury as well. If learning how to help your clients make better mind-body connections, whether through yoga or other modalities, is one of your goals as a fitness professional, the ACE Mind Body Specialty Certification may be a perfect fit for you.
It is important to note that, even if you’re not interested in specifically teaching yoga or Pilates, you can still benefit from this specialty certification. As celebrity nutritionist, fitness trainer and author of Yes You Can: The Achievable Diet, Diana Le Dean says, connecting your mind to your body is necessary for full function.
“Mindful clients will become more active in their daily lives,” she explains. “Too many people walk around with great-looking bodies they don’t know how to use. A sculpted body that isn’t connected to the mind is like a gilded frame with no painting. When you think about how to develop a muscle group you also learn how to use it, and you’re anxious to try it out. Everyday living becomes easier and more efficient if we teach our clients and students how to connect the mind to the body.”
To help connect mind to body, says Susan Rubin, certified Anusara Yoga instructor and founder of Sage Yoga in Armonk, N.Y., fitness pros should first have their clients pause to coordinate their breath and movement.
“The breath begins before the movement starts and ends after the movement completes. This is sometimes called envelope breathing. Then, as they move the breath supports their movement and the focus on the breath keeps the client in alignment and focused on what they are doing.”
Rubin also suggests teaching your clients and students to focus by using a “point of gaze,” called a dristi point. “The point of gaze keeps their focus and can help align their neck and spine. Rather than finding ways to distract the client when the actions are challenging, ask them to focus on their breath and point of gaze.”
“The greatest super skill in all mind-body training is awareness,” adds Jill Miller, creator of Yoga Tune Up® and an elite instructor at Equinox. “Mind-body fitness formats tend to move at a slower pace, which makes it easier to include clear cueing about how to pay attention to your body. Formats like yoga, Pilates and Gyrotonics emphasize the details within movement, breathing and positions. Personal trainers and group fitness instructors may be working with students in a faster pace, but improving clients’ awareness can increase performance and keep injuries at bay.”
Miller, who describes herself as a yogini who also lifts weights, believes that yoga has helped her apply this awareness to her other workouts. “Typically in yoga, you move quite slowly, and take your attention form point to point within a static pose or a slowly moving dynamic pose. Yoga does not have a need for urgency, and this minimizes injury risk in many ways.
“But,” she continues, “when lifting weights, especially movements that are explosive in nature, like a snatch or a clean, where it is hard to control the motion between A—your start—and B—your finish—you have to program your motor skills to maintain awareness within that fast pace, or else you'll make a major error in position and form. Your mind and body have to anticipate the minute of clearly expressing the movement in order to have impeccability in your form. Yoga is a great way to constantly refine my concentration skills. Then, when I bring them to weightlifting, I speed them up within the context of these new explosive moves.”
The ACE Mind Body Specialty Certification covers the principles that form the foundations of both yoga and Pilates, as well as specific exercises and poses. In addition, you’ll also be shown how to enhance yoga workouts by incorporating additional tools, such as the YogaFit® Core Ball, hand weights and Body Bars®. Additional courses include yoga for those with body-image issues, how to design yoga sequences that complement indoor and outdoor cycling, and yoga for people over 55.
Whether your desire is to teach yoga or Pilates classes, or to simply incorporate the principles into your clients’ workouts, the ACE Mind Body Specialty Certification will bring a little OM into both your life and theirs—and help you carve a new niche into your fitness business.