Gratitude has become a hot topic lately. Gratitude journals, writing down what you are grateful for every morning and/or night, or even telling people what you’re grateful for every day. I love all of the ways we can practice gratitude and certainly believe that they help us. I also believe there is another way to practice gratitude. And that’s through movement.
We are taught to be grateful for movement, to be grateful for our bodies and all they do for us. But what if we don’t just have to be grateful for our bodies? What if our bodies can teach us to be grateful? What if it’s not one or another.
Hear me out.
When I coach group classes or even in my semi-private and private training, I like to push my athletes physically, mentally and even to a degree, spiritually. It’s easy just to give clients really hard (or really easy) workouts. It’s easy to tell them to eat this or cut back on that. Truthfully, it's easy to move your body. But, if we exercise or eat without intention or without really thinking about the WHY, well, it just doesn't stick and people don’t get the results they want.
When we push ourselves physically, we become vulnerable. Our bodies are working extra hard to regulate themselves, desperately trying to get more oxygen in our lungs, to pump our blood harder, and to support our hearts as they begin to work faster. This physical vulnerability is the perfect opportunity to develop gratitude. Heard of the expression, “break them down to build them back up?” This can be relevant when talking about building gratitude. If, at our most vulnerable state, we can bring ourselves to a level of gratitude, I have found that with practice, gratitude becomes our homeostasis.
Why should coaches help their athletes practice gratitude?
I’m convinced gratitude is the secret sauce. It’s the thread that patches all the goodness in life together. As a coach I want my clients to thrive and to reach their goals in every area of their life and I am lucky enough to help them do this through movement. Before starting a class or personal training sessions, we (my clients and I) have gratitude check-ins. Everyone has to offer three things they are grateful for but it can’t be open ended. It has to be specific–it has to be things they really have to think about. They have to work for it. Working for something challenging is when meaningful change and learning happens. As they are training, we try to remember those three things. Try to remember the good feelings that come up when reflecting on gratitude. Feeling loved, supported and energized. All of these feelings elevate our physical and mental state and that way we can really get the most out of training.
What’s an example of coaching gratitude?
During the height of the pandemic and nationwide lockdowns, like most gyms, ours was shut down. The gym for many of us is not just a place to build your body, but it is a community. Since most of us were confined to our homes, I came up with a 30-day bodyweight workout challenge. We used couches, cans, pillows… anything you could find in your house. The point of these workouts was not just to give people something to do, but it was a way of staying connected. I made an effort to hold people accountable by having them show me “receipts.” They had to reply or send a video or picture confirming they did the workout that day. If they missed even one day, they were off the list. I know this might seem a little cutthroat, but at the time everyone enjoyed being held accountable for something. I’m known for holding my clients accountable to their goals, so this style of a challenge was another form of normalcy for people. And normalcy is something we were all grateful for. I included gratitude reflection questions, quotes, or thoughts along with these workouts to emphasize that when life throws us a curveball, that's when we double down in gratitude. That's when we push to stay connected and to hold ourselves accountable. If we as trainers do our jobs correctly, hopefully we not only help our athletes with their physical goals, but their mental goals as well, helping to build more determined, resilient and grateful individuals.I firmly believe that pairing movement with a gratitude practice will elevate our physical, mental and spiritual well being.
Here is a workout from my 30-day challenge! Give it a go and send me the receipts! Tag me and Rhone on Instagram and let us know how it went and what you are grateful for.
"THE FLOOR IS LAVA"
Descending Ladder 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 of:
Threading The Needles
Side Plank Hip Dip
Elbow Plank Hip Dips**
Every time you break, there is a 20 burpee penalty at the very end. The movement standard is that your knees cannot touch the ground at all. If you come all the way down, that is a penalty. You can rest by pushing your hips up into a down-dog position but feet and hands must stay in contact with the ground until all reps are completed.