When High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) comes to mind, it might be difficult to put meditation on the same wavelength. Contrary to common belief, fitness has evolved by infusing mental training into HIIT workouts, so participants don’t have to choose between strengthening either the mind or body.

Meditation is often associated with sitting in a quiet room rather than an intense, loud environment where the heart rate is revving high with bursts of movement. However, HIIT requires focus and intention to calm participants to a place of meditation during moments of extreme movement. If participants can bring themselves to that space in a HIIT environment by being mindful, positive and calm, and then again in each burst thereafter, they will leave the class feeling refreshed without spending an hour sitting in meditative practice.

How to Bring Meditation to HIIT Workouts

While bringing meditation to HIIT will ultimately be implemented by class participants, there are several things trainers can do to create a conducive environment. Trainers should aim to create a safe space through positive talk where ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist by offering positive encouragement and affirmations.

During a class, trainers have a captivated audience, with participants’ full and undivided attention. With no phones and no distractions, it is the perfect opportunity to relay a message and capture a tone that participants will hear, listening or not.

The message starts the moment they walk in and continues with repetition throughout the class with similar verbiage. As trainers remind participants to breathe and let go, the messages will start to resonate, oftentimes without them noticing. Just because it’s a high intensity class doesn’t mean the messages throughout need to be hard or boot camp style. It is simple to thread in a more meditative message focused on being present. Encourage positive self-talk and high fives with other classmates. These all build mental stamina and create a calm environment while performing an activity that would otherwise be challenging.

The Benefits of Meditation in HIIT

Meditation during HIIT is a mind-body focus, which is what exercise should be. Working out is much more internal than most realize. If trainers are leading exercises with meditation, participants don’t even need to think about it – they’ll just listen and do. Eventually the meditation will become habit, even if it seems odd at first. Meditation during exercise has many benefits including, but not limited to:

· Reduced stress, anxiety and depression

· Brain benefits, clarity and presence

· Increased productivity during exercise

It’s a Two-Way Street

HIIT can help with meditation too! HIIT has several health benefits (reduces high blood pressure, prevents type 2 diabetes, releases endorphins, to name a few), which in turn attribute to a more successful meditative state.

Practice Makes Perfect

Implementing meditation during HIIT is a conscious work in progress. Through my training and coaching at FIT36, I ask that the class set their intentions, and why they are there that day. Throughout class, I use verbiage that drives participant behavior with messages including: ‘yes you can,’ ‘I know you are strong enough,’ ‘you’ve got this,’ ‘keep pushing,’ and ‘you’re stronger than you think’. Constant positive affirmations throughout the entire class are imperative.

I suggest setting the HIIT functional intention during the initial stretch or warm up, then finishing with a stretch and final words circling back to the key phrases to close the class.

The Takeaway

As the HIIT fitness movement continues to climb in 2018 and meditation maintains its popularity, it is safe to expect that this is just the beginning of mental training in HIIT studios. Trainers can infuse meditation into HIIT training by keeping the following tips in mind:

· Set the Intention- By establishing a meditative message before, throughout and during the closing of a class, participants will experience effortless benefits.

· Encourage Positivity- Positive reinforcement and positive self-talk go a long way.

· Practice Often- Although it is important to incorporate meditation into your HIIT sessions on a daily basis, it can feel odd at first. As trainers become more comfortable with their messaging and increase the frequency of the practice, members will buy in and become more comfortable as a result.