- Personal trainer Kelsey Wells saw exercise as a form of punishment, she said.
- However, it is now a source of empowerment for the trainer.
- To make this step, add mindfulness to your workout, Wells said.
Kelsey Wells knows what it’s like to hate working out.
“I hated exercise of all kinds. I felt like it was the last job,” she told Insider.
But, fast forward a decade, Wells is a personal trainer, Sweat App coach, and fitness influencer with just under three million Instagram followers. She also exercised regularly and enjoyed it for nearly nine years, she said.
What has changed?
It was a combination of finding a form of exercise she enjoyed (strength training) and working on her mindset, reframing exercise from a source of punishment to empowerment.
Wells said she saw exercise as a way to shrink her body rather than a way to improve her physical and mental health. This meant that she never liked him and therefore she never consistently respected him. But once she started working on changing her mindset about her, he became more positive about not only exercising but about her life in her whole, Wells said.
Working out more intentionally also helped her get better results from her workouts, meaning she made faster progress in strength and fitness and had more fun, she said.
Insider previously reported that the idea that exercise should be a form of punishment, even after enjoying an indulgent meal, is instilled in many of us as kids. But not only is it unscientific, as exercise burns fewer calories than people think, but it actually discourages people from exercising and reaping its benefits in the first place.
Now Wells is on a mission to help other women change their minds. Making the switch, she said, might just come down to adding a minute to your workout.
“We weren’t born into this life hating our bodies. We weren’t born thinking we weren’t enough,” Wells said. “But once you accept where you are with that relationship with yourself and exercise, you can take action and choose to change that.”
How to Add Intention, Mindfulness, and Gratitude to Your Workout in 1 Minute
Reframing how you think about exercise doesn’t just happen, it takes conscious effort, Wells said. In fact, some days he still has to work on it, he said.
Wells’ Redefine Fitness program, found on the Sweat app, is designed to help women do that in tangible steps.
“It’s the strength training that I’m known for, but I also take key things that I’ve identified have actually helped me heal my relationship with exercise,” she said.
It just takes another minute.
“Add 60 seconds to your workout and you’ll make any workout successful,” Wells said. “Not because you’re hitting a personal best, but because you’re moving your body to take care of yourself and your health. And ultimately, that’s the point.”
There are three key components to any workout:
- 30 seconds spent setting your intention at the start of the workout: For example: “I’m doing this session to take care of myself and my health” or “I’m moving my body out of gratitude and respect for my body.”
- Affirmations during one or two rest periods: Like “I’m strong” or “I’m more than my body”.
- 30 seconds of gratitude at the end
The 30 seconds at the start is designed to help people set a healthy intention for their workout, redefine their “why” or motivation to workout, while taking a breather to help tune into the body Wells said.
Wells said: “It’s your reminder and your decision to train from a positive place and take care of your health, instead of punishing or restricting yourself, or doing it purely for aesthetics.
“It helps you recognize that you are worthy of investing this time and energy into taking care of yourself and your health and is what can ultimately help set you up for long-term success when it comes to fitness and overall health and wellness” .
The work of breathing doesn’t have to be specific, but is simply to help you get into the right mindset for your workout.
“We focus on inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth at whatever pace is comfortable, but it’s really the intention setting that matters the most during the beginning of any workout,” Wells said.
Affirmations come at certain points in every workout and help people double check their bodies and remind themselves of their intention.
“And finally you take a moment of gratitude for your body and you put a hand on your heart, a hand on your stomach, take a deep breath and say thank you to your body for everything, for getting through all this training, for carrying you through every day,” Wells said.
Studies suggest that people who practice gratitude generally tend to be happier and less depressed.
Being mindful in your workouts helps you create your narrative
The reason instilling mindfulness in workouts can help change someone’s mindset is that it allows you to create your own positive narrative, meaning you don’t have room for negative thoughts, Wells said.
“It keeps you from negatively associating exercise with toxic rhetoric that you may have adhered to before,” Wells said. “If you focus on your breathing, you don’t have time to tell yourself you’re not strong enough, you’re not good enough, you’re weak.”
While some people are skeptical at first, Wells said he’s gotten a lot of messages from people saying he’s helped them “rewrite the script.”
However, it won’t necessarily change overnight.
“If you can’t get to a place where you’re doing this workout to celebrate your body, out of love for yourself, that’s fine,” Wells said. “But you can certainly choose to move your body out of respect for it. You can certainly choose to do it to take care of yourself and your health on a basic level.”
Ultimately, however, the change in mindset must come from within the person, not from someone else.
“No one can change your life. Only you can do that,” Wells said.
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