The Mindful Warm-up
Mindfulness and stepping onto the mats
Last week, my warm-up broke. A dislocated little toe within two minutes of hitting the dojo mat was enough to throw the whole concept up in the air for re-evaluation.
What should a warm-up look like and how could something so simple go so wrong so quickly?
Even for experienced athletes, it's all too easy to go through the motions in the first 10-15 minutes of a training session, especially when the warmup is repeated week after week, resulting in minimal mental engagement.
Warm-up with focus and attention
As my minor but ultimately rather costly mistake showed, the warm-up is when we need to be most alert and receptive to feedback from our bodies.
You won't know how much you really, truly have in the tank until you start warming up and moving around, so being able to pick up on the clues your body gives you early on is crucial. That is especially true for anyone working around an injury, at possible risk of over-training or moving in a cold environment.
Take a lesson from non-competitive yoga
Yogis know that when things get tough on the yoga mat they can always retreat into a child's pose to recover without any judgement from those around them. Despite there rarely being any specific warm-up phase per se in most yoga classes, it is that explicitly non-competitive philosophy that helps protect against injuries and incidents.
CrossFit and mobility
At the other extreme, the better CrossFit boxes (e.g. CrossFit San Francisco) have done immeasurable amounts to promote mobility work and the concept of beginning a session with bodyweight versions of the movements that are to be loaded in the Workout Of the Day.
If you're going to be knocking out sets of loaded squats for example, your warm-up would be designed to mobilize the hips, ankles and spine, followed by some air squats.
The Biofit warm-up
Biofit's approach to the warm-up combines the mindful, non-competitive vibe of a yoga class with CrossFit's laser sharp focus on mobilizing the joints that are going to be used most during the session.
We also occasionally throw in interactive, movement-based and purposeful play at the start of a class as a way to engage (or 'warm up') both body and mind right at the start, before getting stuck into the mobility section.
Most people will only be able to set aside 3-5 hours each week for their exercise regime, so we want to make every second count in class in order to maximize the everyday benefits beyond the studio walls.
Stay present in the moment
When we train we're looking to be present in the moment, as it's happening, without judgement; you are where you are today, there is no end goal, just a continual process of self-improvement. Embrace the grind and don't neglect your warm-up!
More info on the Biofit coaching method for fitness professionals is online here.