Blog Post 1:
GAIN Mobility has been running at 14 classes per week for 3 months now, and each month we have a different focus. August we had core strength, throughout September we worked hard on overhead mobility, and October (we finished today) we had the squat program. Each month similar postures and sequences would come up every class to allow members to practice, get a feel for each posture and then have the time to work on it. This has resulted in great improvements over the 4 short weeks, with more and more members hitting the advanced poses and more members feeling their improvements as the weeks go by.
November brings us a new focus: strength and stability.
GAIN Mobility was born from the determination to help CrossFitters move well, improve lifts and reduce the risk of injury. The overhead focus speaks for itself. A lot of the common lifts and movements performed in CrossFit involve lifting overhead. With so many members struggling to get their arms straight over their head it was a concern I was keen to address and will always continue to do so. The squat program doesn’t need much of an explanation either. At CrossFit, every day is leg day, so the importance of nailing our squat position goes without saying. This improvement in mobility will transfer to the squat, but it will also help with cleans, the snatch, wall balls and thrusters, as well as take a lot of pressure of various joints such as your knees, ankles and back.
Core strength, and strength and stability, as focus months might not be so obvious. They’re equally as important as the overhead and the squat program due to the fact they will help reduce your risk of injury (As well as make you stronger, win!). Without strength and stability at our shoulders for example, we are much more likely to cause damage. Maybe even enough damage that we can’t train or lift overhead for a while.
So we might be able to get the weight overhead, but can we keep it there safely? Can we bring it down safely? Are we engaging during the lift? Is our core working to help us with our lifts?
Have you ever tried to do a headstand? Having taught many members to do a headstand it’s amazing the realisation on their face when they get it right. Usually this happens right after I say, “tense your abs and squeeze your butt.” They switch on through the midline and voila, they’re balanced. Moving away from gymnastics or fancy tricks. When front squatting for example, if you don’t engage your core the odds are the barbell will pull you down and forwards and your ability to stand that bar up is minimal. Every movement we perform starts at the core and ends at our extremities, so we strengthen the core, we stabilise and strengthen the joints and watch our movements (whether it be CrossFit or Yoga) become more controlled, stronger and a lot safer.
We have two more things to focus on within our yoga sessions at GAIN Mobility. The Vinyasa Flow sequence being the first of them. We have just one week left of the current sequence. It’s been challenging and created some high thresholds to lactic acid (the quad burn has been real). What’s been really special is the number of members that have nailed their piking headstands this month. I haven’t been kind, insisting we practice our pikes, workshops have happened regularly and tips and tricks pulled out of the bag, but the improvements have been worth the time, hard work and patience.
Next month we move into a sequence with at least two movements we’ve not done before at GAIN Mobility, and I’m excited to introduce them to you. Remember you don’t have to join the class at the start of the sequence; we relearn and refresh every Vinyasa class. Everything is scalable and it’s the most wonderful form of moving meditation. Get booked in… You don’t have to be a member, drop ins are always welcome.
The mention of moving meditation brings me so concisely onto our last point of focus. Mindfulness meditation.
We have 5 minutes mindfulness at the end of each class. Just 5. Most of the classes are fit to bursting with CrossFitters and their ardent desire to work hard for as long as possible, so getting them to lay down for more than 5 minutes isn’t always easy.
Throughout this meditative 5 minutes I ask members to focus on their breath, and just their breath. Have you ever tried this?
You will undoubtedly realise that your mind is never quiet. An internal monologue turns on as soon as we try to switch off. A great looming:
“Helloooooo, remember that time in middle school that you fell over in that puddle and everyone thought you’d wet yourself… OR remember how hungry you were before class? Well now your starving. It’s going to be really embarrassing if your tummy rumbles now… How about we explore the avenue of how much work you should be doing right now…”
And so on. Switching this off entirely would be a challenge. Realising it’s always there and this is what your mind is doing most of the time is also something to come to terms with. Surely it’s exhausting?
So with our 5 minutes of meditation we look to focus on the breath, just the breath, and allow the torrent of thoughts that we have just pass us by. These thoughts WILL distract you. They have a power to pull you away, but it is important to realise that this doesn’t matter. What we hope to achieve is the realisation that you’re not thinking about the breath. So you quieten the thoughts and get back to that focus. It may happen 50 times in 5 minutes, but this doesn’t matter. Each time you bring the thought back to the breath it is progress. The temptation to get frustrated will be there, but if we feed this frustration then it is likely our mind will stop even noticing what we’re thinking about, as this just leads to frustration. So be kind to the thought process, let it go on its way and take your focus back to the breath.
Inhale. Exhale. Namaste.
Alex Howarth, owner of GAIN Mobility, Fitness, Astanga, Hatha and Vinyasa teacher. Lover of meditation and writing. Even if I can't spell.