Sunday, June 28, 2015

5 Reasons To Work Out With Intention

As you already know by now, my focus for this year has been on having fun with my workouts... making sure I am doing exercises and activities that not only enhance my fitness but that I really enjoy doing.  I am playing lots of tennis this Summer, a bit of golf, and getting in lots of golf practice... but even though those are things I really love to spend time at, I still approach that play time with some sense of purpose, with an intention in mind.

5 Reasons I Work Out With Intention

I guess I should explain...

When I first started golfing many many years ago, I took a series of five lessons with a female co-worker. I was not really interested in golf, but she was a bit shy about goinng alone and wanted a companion so I went along with her, and was immediately HOOKED. I am probably one of the few golfers I know who really would rather spend time at practice than actually playing a round on the course.  I love to go through all the clubs in my bag, hitting a few shots at a time at various targets on the range... then heading to the bunkers for some sand shot practice, then to the putting green to hit some chips and pitches, and finish up with putting... I can spend hours at it... but I digress.

The point of that story is that the golf pro who taught me those first five lessons told me something that has stuck with me all these years... and that was "When you go to the range to practice, don't just stand up there and hit shots.  Make sure you are practising with a sense of purpose. Pick something to work on; otherwise you are just wasting your time and your game will suffer."

To this day, all these years (about 28) later, I still follow that advice. When I hit a shot, I make sure I am aiming at something.  I use good form. I keep my eye on the ball.  I make sure to complete my backswing.  Now that is not to say that I have a hundred-and-one things on my mind when I am practicing. Just the opposite. I approach each practice session with only one or two goals in mind so that I don't overwhelm myself and come away frustrated.  For example, I might work on my swing timing, and when I get to the putting green I may work on spotting a line to the hole.  Just a couple of simple thoughts that give my practice some focus, and give me a sense of purpose.  Sometimes I will have a game of sorts with The Captain, and then the focus also becomes the ability to perform under the pressure of competition.

Golf practice

I have carried this sense of purpose and intention into the other fitness and exercise activities that I take part in, as well.  For example, when I head to the tennis court I may decide to concentrate on keeping my body low so that I can put some leg power into my swing.  Or I may work on getting my body to the ball so I am not reaching to hit shots.

Spring tennis practice

When I head out for a run I normally have a purpose in mind as well.  Sometimes I work on keeping my heart rate within a certain range.  The last time I ran, I was concentrating on keeping my stride fairly short and speed up my foot turnover in order to try running a bit faster.  Sometimes I make sure to run up all the hills I encounter... or to slow down at the bottom of the uphills so I can speed up as I crest them.

When I am doing strength training I am usually focused on my breathing and on my form.

I recall that my only-ever yoga instructor also told us at the beginning of each session to find a purpose in the day's practice... whether it be to relax a certain body part, or even just to find some relief from stress in the middle of the busy work day.

The intentions I set are not about the qualitative aspects of my workout... not the quantitative... not the time or distance I am running; not the amount of weight I am lifting; not about the length of time I can hold a plank. They are about some aspect of the work, some quality of it that I hope to master to improve my ability to perform it and usually to enhance my enjoyment of it.

I am definitley not a proponent of working out being all about WORK... for me if it's not also FUN, I don't wannna do it.  I find that giving it a focus and a purpose makes it all the more like PLAY for me.

Working out and approaching my play time with a sense of purposeincreases my joy in the activity itself and has several other benefits:
  1. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  2. It improve my ability to perform the activity.
  3. I enjoy the inner competition and mental focus.
  4. I feel like I am doing something worthwhile for myself.
  5. It helps enhance my mental clarity and fability to concentrate.

What about you?  Do you approach your play time and your workout time with an intention in mind?


  1. When we lived in the UK, I golfed almost every day! I miss it!

  2. oh how I adore this.
    I approach all things with intention OR THEY ARE NOT WORTH DOING.

  3. I don't think I always run with purpose, I admit. Sometimes running is for me is just about relaxing, de stressing, or getting out and enjoying the great outdoors, but maybe that's a purpose too?

  4. That's great advice! I think I always do a workout with some kind of intention. Yoga for recovery and running for all kinds of reasons!

  5. Good advice! My trainer and I have discussed this idea before. I try to set intentions for my strength workouts and swims but sometimes I just like to run without thinking about anything.

  6. Excellent advice. I try to focus on things like form and breathing and technique, and sometimes I do, while other times I get sloppy. I will try to be more mindful.

  7. This was something I did quite a bit a few years ago, but it seems I've stopped setting an intention and it's something I'd like to remember to do more often.

  8. i think i flip flop for play time and workout time. sometimes i just want to move, and sometimes i have a distance, goal or outcomes in mind. i think it also depends on the activity. very different if i'm at yoga or going for a run.

  9. This is great. Working out should never feel like a chore or something you HAVE to do.

  10. I totally get the part about practice sometimes being more fun than the performance. I prefer outrigger paddle practice to the races for sure. And I have an intent with each practice. So glad you are having fun out there!

  11. What a great mindset to have! More of us should approach working out the way you are.

  12. I definitely hit the workouts with intention but play - it is just about being for me. :)

  13. I always approach workouts with focused intention. That hasn't always been the case and it made a big difference when I changed the way (and the why) I was doing things.

  14. I would love to say I approach my workouts with purpose, but unless I am training for a race I don't

  15. I like to think that I approach my workouts with intention, especially due to a goal I'm trying to reach. It's always good to allow play time to be just that!


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