Health and Fitness How Athletes Prepare: Bringing Your “A Game” 5 August 2018 Studio Pilates Tips from the pros that you can apply to your health and fitness goals Many of the mental techniques used by elite athletes are relatively simple, easily repeatable and can be used by absolutely anyone. Quite often when chasing health and fitness goals, your worst enemy is your own mind. Doubts emerge, leading to questions of whether or not what you’re doing is working. Finding motivation to work out in the early hours, or at night following a long day, is a struggle – and allowing these negative thoughts to affect your performance during your workout can lead to dissatisfaction with your health and fitness choices. I’m going to help you purge your mind of these negative thoughts the same way elite athletes do when they need to continually train at a high level to reach their goals, so you can achieve your goals too. Firstly, imagine you’ve just woken up to your alarm set for 4.30 am in the morning, or you’ve just finished a long day at work and are preparing for a workout. What thoughts enter your mind? I can tell you from experience as an elite swimmer, training 10 times a week for more than 10 years, that most of these thoughts are negative. “I’m too tired,” or “I’m not feeling my best today, I’ll skip it this morning/tonight.” These negative thoughts are stalling your progress and subtly allowing you to create bad habits. We’re going to call these negative thoughts your “Z Game.” Secondly, imagine you’re in the middle of your Pilates class. You feel strong. You’ve just done an exercise you’ve never been able to perform before. What thoughts enter your mind now? “This is easy,” or “I’m so proud of myself for getting to this level and I’m going to keep pushing,” or even something technical such as, “chin up, shoulders back.” Following your class, you feel good about what you’ve done and you want to keep doing it. You walk out of the studio with your head high, shoulders back with pride. This feeling is your “A Game.” Now finally – and this is the easy part – pick out some of the positive internal dialogue you use with yourself in your “A Game,” when you’re feeling strong. For example, “Keep pushing!” and “I am strong!”. Write these phrases down. Stick them on your fridge, hang them above your bed, put them wherever you can to keep them top of mind. Next time you experience thoughts that begin to bring out your “Z Game,” replace those negative thoughts with positive ones from your list of “A Game” phrases. So, after a long day of work, or when your alarm goes off and it’s still dark outside, fill your mind with your chosen positive thoughts so you can bring your “A Game” to every Pilates class or fitness session. Walk in to the space with your chin up, shoulders back and mind full of positive thoughts. This is how elite athletes mentally prepare for and cope with every training session or performance – and it is easily repeatable for you as well! So, when things start to get tough, or your motivation lags, and negative “Z Game” thoughts creep into your mind, simply switch them out for your well-rehearsed positive “A Game” phrases. You’ll be surprised and amazed at the difference a positive mindset makes to your workouts, as well as other areas of your everyday life. Image Credit: Stuart Rech, Instagram @_stugoodtobetrue About the Author – Studio Pilates Instructor Stuart Rech Studio Pilates instructor, Stuart Rech, combines his experience in the health and fitness industry with more than 10 years as a national level, elite swimmer. He now devotes his time to ensuring his clients are the best people they can be, both physically and mentally.