Minimalist Mindful Fitness – 5 Key Practices

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What the Hell is Mindful Fitness Anyway?
Recently I received this question from one of my readers:
“What activities and/or cues have you found to be most helpful in incorporating mindfulness into your clients’ activities? Walking, breathing, something more meaningful to each person? Do you have an activity that you tend to start with to introduce that concept?”

First off, I want to say this is a great question. Many people struggle with how to start practicing mindfulness and/or fitness with so many fitness options the possibilities can be a bit overwhelming.

So here is my
Minimalist Mindful Fitness Guide –
5 Key Practices to Get Your Started.

1. Intention –
The first practice I start with most of my clients is identifying their list of internal and external goals. We look at how many pounds they want to lose or how many miles the want to run, but we don’t stop there.

We also look at how they want to feel and what they think losing weight or getting in shape will do for them. By looking at their intentions first, they connect with deep motivations and a sense of purpose.

2. Journaling –
The second practice I recommend for all my clients is journaling. Many people trying to make a life change struggle with judgments, self doubt, and internal criticism. The purpose of journaling is to increase awareness without judgment.

I have my clients record a very basic journal of what they eat, what activity they do, and their state of mind. I also ask them to notice any connection between these three. Lastly, I encourage them to write down one thing everyday they are grateful for.

I do this before we start with any exercise or nutrition plan. Because I want them to just notice what’s going on.

Often without any prompting, they will identify ways they are sabotaging themselves or areas where they need to do some investigation.

Because this wisdom comes from within these revelations are much more powerful than anything, they’ve read in a book or heard from a trainer.

3. Habit Formation
Many trainers have a particular exercise regime or nutrition plan they employ with clients. But I believe the best nutrition and exercise plan is the one you will actually do.

The main problem with most diet and exercise plans is they demand too radical change too quickly. The main goal of the MindFitMove method is not to help you lose weight or gain muscle.

Let me repeat that again because I know it sounds crazy. The main goal of MindFitMove method is not to help you lose weight or gain muscle.

The main goal of this mindfulness based fitness approach is to help you create more awareness and then use that awareness to make different choices.

The first two practices help establish a baseline awareness. In habit formation we take that awareness and start making change a reality.

First, I find what that person likes to do and get them to do more of that. I believe that if it doesn’t fit smoothly in your life you won’t do it.

For example, I had one client who liked riding his bike so I got him to ride his bike up a steep hill 3 times a week. I had another client who lived next to a lovely park so I got them to walk and eventually jog in that park.

The hardest part of regular exercise is the regular part. By finding, a physical activity you enjoy or at least don’t despise. You vastly increase your chance for success.

4. Set the Stage
Once we’ve established baseline awareness and started creating new habits then we work with specific mindful fitness techniques.

The fundamental mindful fitness technique is creating an environment for mindfulness.

I encourage my clients to exercise outside, to exercise without the use of music, and to exercise with the intention to focus on their bodies.

These 3 techniques all help create an environment of mindfulness. And though they don’t require a ton of concentration. They do lay the groundwork for intense focus and spacious awareness.

5. Active Mindfulness – 4 Mindful Fitness Techniques
Once we’ve established an environment of mindfulness, then we use advanced mindfulness based fitness techniques to increase awareness and focus during exercise.

I’ve used these 4 mindful fitness techniques in my own practice as well as with my clients.

1. Noticing before and after –
At the end of your work out take a minute close your eyes and focus on how you feel now vs. how you felt before you exercised. This practice helps connect us with the ease that exercise can bring. It also tunes us in to any aches that may indicate any problem areas we need to work on.

2. Cadence –
Cadence is the rate at which your feet hit the ground when running, or the speed that your pedals turnover in cycling. When practicing with cadence we simply notice how it changes as we exercise.

Cadence helps us in two ways:
One. It helps us tune into our bodies natural rhythms
Two. Working to maintain a fast even cadence will decrease injuries and increase speed and efficiency.

3. Pay attention to sound –
The world is filled with sounds we never notice. But when we open our sense, we often find joy in the sound of chirping birds and the even pad of our feet on the trail.

In addition to enjoying our natural environment, sound can also reveal imbalances in our exercise form.

For example, I’ve noticed, as I get tired my footsteps get louder. Louder footsteps means higher impact and lowered efficiency. So, by working to run quietly I increase my speed and decrease the stress on my body.

4. Breath-
Breath practice often gives us cues about how we are approaching exercise and our life in general. No matter what the activity, noticing our breath can help us perform with greater skill and confidence.

In yoga, the breath helps us move the body in an even rhythm. In endurance events like running and cycling, our breath tells us when we are pushing too hard or moving out of sync. And in weight lifting, our breath not only helps us connect to movement, but also works to stabilize and strengthen our bodies.

Simply Amazing
There are 1000’s of books on fitness and eating, but most of them overcomplicate everything with complex theories and complicated techniques. What’s so amazing about these practices is how simple they are.

Using just these 5 practices people can make amazing progress towards establishing a mindfulness based fitness practice.

Mindful fitness isn’t about taking one model and applying it to everyone. It’s about establishing principles and then investigating how those principles apply to your life.

Because of that, no two people will ever approach mindfulness based fitness the same way. But it also means that this practice can adapt and change as you change. It can become an organic part of your own growth and that’s why it’s such an amazing tool for lasting transformation.

Thanks very much to Kelsey for sending in this question. Kelsey has been one of my best and most loyal readers from the beginning of my blog. She is an awesome physical therapist and super cool lady.

If there is a question, you have please feel free to leave it below or email me and I’ll do my best to address it in one of my future posts.

Photo Credits


Talking Your Way Through A Mindfield

Man walking through mudSpeaking In A Minefield
Speaking is like walking through a minefield blindfolded. We are so focused on ourselves we often fail to see that our words have blown up. Our meaning has been scattered to the winds but we are none the wiser.

Here are three communication mines we face, as teachers, students, managers, and employees.

1. Confidence
The correct amount of confidence is tricky. Have too much confidence and you lose connection. Have too little confidence and no one listens.

You have to be honest about what you don’t know. At the same time, you have to feel ok about your limitations.

When I work with my teaching partner in Yoga school, I notice that I’m most effective when I’m calm, but not cocky. Whenever I think I know exactly what to do, I lose her.

Confidence has to do with our ability to be aware and present. When I’m attentive and focused, I give clear directions.

Life is more than just knowing it all. Experience is great but only when it gives us more space to be present.

2. Projection
We usually project what we want to see. We miss all the things that make others unique. Without this data, we can never connect with them.

Nevertheless, I’ve found some projection is necessary for effective communication.

When directing someone into a Yoga pose you have to project your own understanding of the movements onto your student. At the same time, you have to hold an awareness of how your words are affecting their body.

This balancing act is present in all communication. If we notice our words losing impact it’s great to check in on how we are projecting and whether or not it’s working.

3. Frustration/confusion
As a teacher, my students don’t owe me anything. As a friend, employee, or even manager the same is true.

Having authority can lead us to believe we are entitled to be listened to. However, this attitude is rarely helpful.

Instead, we must try to make our communication accessible.

When I was working with my Yoga partner I noticed frustration arising when I gave a direction and she didn’t do anything.

She may have been following the instruction already. She may have not understood. She may have thought my directions were wrong.

Why she didn’t move doesn’t matter. My job as her teacher is to make my directions work for her. This asks me to I invite rather than command her to act.

In every situation, we should always work towards invitation. This has more to do with the attitude we bring than the words we use.

The key is remembering that we are indebted to our listener. They have given us their attention. We must repay this gift with the calm attention and clarity.

MindFitMove Practice
– Think of something you’d like to communicate to someone: A partner, friend, co-worker, student, or boss.
– Take a few minutes and write out exactly what you want to say.
– Then put this aside for a couple hours or a couple of days.
– When you come back too it read it out loud to yourself.
– Try reading it with confidence and then with uncertainty.
– Try reading it imagining their face in a scowl and then in a smile.
– Try reading it as a demand and then as an invitation.
– Then reflect of these tests and rewrite the phrase.
– Finally try expressing this idea to them keeping in mind the 3 mines you learned about in this post.


How Is Criticism Is Good For You?

Criticism is one of the hardest things to hear. However, criticism doesn’t have to be all negative. If you able to hear it with mindfulness, criticism can be a chance to see yourself and your ‘criticizer’ on a deeper level.

Criticism >= Stomach Punch?
Recently I was talking with a senior member of my spiritual community. While we were talking my business, the Mindful Fitness Movement, came up.

He expressed concern about how I talked about my time at the monastery. He suggested it was inappropriate to list the 2 years I spent at the monastery on my business website.

The next thing I knew I found myself getting defensive and reactive. What I heard him saying was, “I had no business trying to help anyone at all.”

I was able to explain why I listed the monastery on my site and leave the conversation skillfully.  Still, I left feeling very agitated.

3 Windows Of Criticism
Later after I calmed down I was able to look at what I call the 3 windows of criticism.

1. Their Truth – This is your best guess at what the criticizer is expressing. My best guess was, “Training at the monastery is a sacred tradition. I want to honor that tradition.”

2. My Fear – This is the fear that the criticism triggered.
My fear was, “I’m afraid my spiritual community doesn’t support my work. I’m afraid the person I respect thinks I can’t help people. What if he’s right?”

3. The Value – This can be a shared value or two separate values that each of your is trying to support. The value I saw was, “We both want to honor and support a tradition that helped us find peace and meaning.”

It is hard to hear a person’s values through their criticism. But it’s important to try and see what they care about.  Even if you don’t support how they are trying to meet those values.

MindFitMove Practice:
Think of an occurrence in your recent past where you felt criticized. Then follow the steps below.

1. Write down what you remember the person saying. (Try not to interpret or write assumptions)

2.Write down what your reaction was in words and/or thought. 

3. Write down the feelings that came up for you when they said it.

4. Write down Their Truth, Your Fear, and The Values you were both holding.

Once you have gone through these steps it’s up to you to decide which if any action needs to be taken. Often when we receive criticism our willingness to hear and understand the person is enough to make the difference.

Remember that it’s not about blame. It’s about finding a way forward that honors both of you.


What Is Mindfulness? – Start Today

What Is Mindfulness? – Start Today
Hey, You! Pay Attention!
People seem to think mindfulness is complicated, but it’s actually very simple. Mindfulness means paying attention. Sure I know what you’re thinking, “I’m already paying attention.” But what are paying attention to?
We have million things to pay attention to. We pay attention to Email, to Facebook, to Reddit, to Google, to iPhones, and to TV. In the past decade the things we pay attention to have grown exponentially. Which means there is less of our attention to see what’s going on in our heads.
It’s Kids Play
When I was a kid I always thought my mom had eyes in the back of her head. She always knew when I was trying to pull something off. I didn’t fully understand this until I took a job teaching preschool.
It’s easy to tell when kids are getting into trouble. They look suspicious, they get really quiet, and something is clearly going on. Kids don’t realize how obvious they are. From their perspective you seem super human when you catch them.
The reason teachers and parents can catch little kids sneaking around is they have a larger perspective. The kid’s perspective is this little box, but the parents can see the big picture.
Zoning In
You’ve probably already had this experience. It happens a lot to people when they exercise. It’s often called, ‘being in the zone.’ Your mind opens up and you aren’t so focused on the small things. Instead, you get a big picture view of your life.
This is why exercise is so therapeutic; it helps us make this shift. People have told me they love exercise, because it helps them process their day, see things in a new way, and even solve problems.
Sometimes this shift in perspective is more dramatic. There are moments when, all of a sudden, we shift from the little box to the big picture. It feels like we’ve woken up out of a fog and we can see clearly at last. We call them epiphanies, realizations, or A-ha moments.
In one moment our whole perspective on the world and our lives changes. These moments give us great joy and can start us on the path of enduring transformation.
What’s amazing is we don’t have to wait around for these moments to happen. We can plant the seeds for these life-changing moments everyday. We just have to have the right tools.
That is what the Mindful Fitness Movement is all about. Exercise will help you have a more fit body, but if your mind is still clouded you’ll have the same problems in a slimmer body. Mindfulness can help you be calm and relaxed, but without taking action you can slip into dullness.
When you combine these two practices your life will become a give and take of realization and actualization. The fitness practice helps clear your mind and the mindfulness practice gives you the confidence to keep going.
When you engage in mindful fitness, you can do more then simply create a healthy mind and fit body.  You can reduce your suffering, grow inside and out, and change your life for the better. I know because I’ve lived this transformation first hand.
A 5-Minute Solution
So you might be thinking GREAT! But how the heck do I practice mindfulness? My life is hectic and I can hardly find time to exercise. Mindfulness is the realm of monks, new agers, and yoga teacher, but in truth mindfulness is for everyone.
The great thing about mindfulness is that you can start by practicing for just 5 – 10 minutes a day. You’ll be amazed by how big a difference 5 minutes a day makes. You just have to be willing to give it a try.
MindFitMove Practice
There are two simple practices that take 5 minutes or less a day:
The 5-Minute Meditation
Meditation can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here is an easy way to get started. Just follow these three rules
1.     Meditate for 1 – 3 breaths at a time.
2.     Start with 5 minutes a day.
3.     Do it regularly
     (Great times to start the meditation habit are before or after exercise, first thing in      the morning, or last thing at night)
Here is a simple meditation you can try.

  • Pay attention to your breath as it goes in
  • Notice as it switches from in to out
  • Pay attention to your breath as it goes out
  • After 1 – 3 breaths stop
  • How did you do? This isn’t about good or bad. It’s just about checking in.
  • OK now start again

Remember it’s totally normal for your mind to wander. That’s why we stop after just a couple of breaths. Meditation isn’t about laser focus for hours (unless you are a Zen master). It’s about working out our attention muscles. Little by little meditation helps us create space in our lives.
The One Sentence Journal
Journaling can seem like this huge endeavor, but it can actually be very simple.
For years I started and stopped journals, because I thought I had to write a chapter a night. After all, what will the ghostwriter use for my memoir? Then I discovered one-sentence journaling.
The concept is simple: Just write one sentence about your day everyday. It can be mundane, profound, or silly, but write one everyday. This makes reflection an easy daily practice. If you want to see some of mine you can go to or search for the #1senjournal on twitter.
The key is to do these practices whole-heartedly. These practices will support you in creating a healthy mind and fit body. If you do one of both of these practices everyday for a month, you will be amazed what you will learn about yourself.
You’re Not Alone
No one can walk the path for you, but that doesn’t mean you have to walk it alone. My mission is to support anyone who wants to reduce suffering, grow inside and out, and change his or her life for the better. 
Get started is by signing up for The Mindful FitnessMovement Blog. You will receive new practices 3-4 times a week to help you build a healthy mind and fit body. As a thank you I’ll send you a free eBook that has 10 simple Mindful Fitness practices to start transforming your life today.
The next step is to join MindFitTeam. MindFitTeam is a community of like-minded individuals who use mindful fitness practices to maintain a balanced approach to enduring transformation.
MindFitTeam members get

  • 2 One on One Mindful Fitness coaching sessions a month
  • 3 webinars a year about a different mindful fitness topic
  • Answers to your questions and challenges
  • And a Monthly eBook full of daily practice tips, insight, and support

Right now the first month and eBook on Awareness are free and after that it’s just $29 a month. I always offer a full no questions asked money back guarantee. If at any time you don’t feel you’ve gotten your moneys worth out of any of my offerings I’ll be happy to refund your money.
No matter who you are or what your fitness goals are, Mindful Fitness can get you there in a balanced and sustainable way. Whenever you’re ready to start your mind and body fitness journey please let me know. I can’t wait to help you make Mindful Fitness part of your life.