We all have days when it’s a struggle to maintain our regular Base pace or reach the number of watts we usually hit on the rowing machine. But, have you ever noticed how just one misstep in the weight room can sometimes throw off the rest of your class?
A review published by Oxford University Press suggests that negative internal dialog with yourself may be detrimental to your athletic performance.
Dr. Shannon Odell, a neuroscientist on the Orangetheory Medical Advisory Board, says for some individuals, negative self-talk may increase feelings of anxiety or worry, which can cause physiological changes in the body—such as an increased heart rate or irregular breathing—and ultimately affect your performance during an Orangetheory workout.
Mastering your mindset is no easy feat, but Dr. Odell says there are a variety of exercises used in positive psychology, like gratitude journaling and mindful meditating, that can enhance well-being. Repeating a mantra to yourself is one practice you can use even during an Orangetheory class to recover quicker from your mistakes and feel unstoppable during your next class.
Mindset Over Matter
You’ll see physical results when working out your biceps and abdominals, but there is an equally important muscle to strengthen that’s all mental: your resilience. Dr. Odell says when you are resilient, “you're better able to adapt and navigate through hard times. You may be better equipped to bounce back after a stressful event, and not feel like you get stuck.”
In fact, resilience is exactly what Orangetheory creator and co-founder Ellen Latham was equipped with in 1996 when she was let go from her job and had to quickly pivot to teaching Pilates in a spare bedroom at her home. Those humble beginnings have since evolved into the workout we know and love today, and her journey is documented in the film “Momentum Shift.”
The title of the film is a phrase Latham learned from her father that she’s used as a mantra throughout her life to “momentum shift up,” meaning to take inventory of what you have and build from there.
What Is A Mantra?
Mantras are words or phrases that, when used in repetition, can bring you back to the present moment and empower you to keep going when you’re facing a challenge. Christine Lewis, a yoga teacher who leads classes at Ellen’s Ultimate Workout, believes that when it comes to mantras, “if you think it, if you speak it, you become it.”
Dr. Odell says there is science to support the effectiveness of mantras. Not only can they be used to promote a positive mindset, but mantras can also have the same effect that meditation has on the brain, according to a study published in the journal Brain and Behavior.
“The idea is that repeating a mantra may relax and quiet certain areas of the brain, because you become hyper-focused on repeating the word or phrase, and that can benefit you especially during a time when you're feeling a lot of anxiety or a lot of worry or fear,” Dr. Odell explains.
To create your own mantra that resonates with you, Lewis suggests starting with a simple phrase like “I am,” and adding a word to the end, like “I am strong,” “I am powerful,” “I am purposeful,” “I am abundant.” You can make your mantra the home screen background on your phone, or you can write it on your water bottle so that you can see it every time you take a sip during your workout—whatever helps cement it in your mind for those moments when you feel like giving up.
While mantras can support a positive mindset, using them doesn’t mean you’ll never have bad days. “It's not a cure all,” Dr. Odell says. “How I like to think about it is it's a tool in your toolbox to help you foster a happy, healthy life.”