When professional tennis star Maria Sharapova needs to save a match, she gets into her “zone.”
“I take it one point at a time and really focus,” she says.
Penning an hour-long workout into your planner can seem laughable when you have a business to run, a house to clean, a family to organize.
And if you exercised only once in the last two weeks, or you’re behind in your training for an athletic event, it might seem pointless to even lace up your trainers today.
Before you dismiss your exercise goal as a pipedream, try Sharapova’s technique for turning a game around. Athletic focus.
Take your eye off your losing score, and fix it on the ball flying at you.
Successful athletes know how to become so engrossed in an activity that limitations, distractions and time all fall away.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this flow.
There’s a time for panning out and focusing on big-picture fitness goals, and there’s a time for assessing yesterday’s performance. But at the moment when you need to harness flow, these can be saboteurs.
If you’re struggling to get moving right now, it’s better to take it one point—or one workout—at a time.
Going on a fitness retreat is great for busting through mental obstacles, because it physically forces you into an activity and creates a time commitment.
The same immersion tactic works in daily life: trap yourself in a class or at the gym. Put your bike on the rack and drive somewhere.
If you prefer to work out at home or jog around the park near your house, you have to create your own isolation. The old ‘10 minutes’ trick always works for me. Commit to 10 minutes, and by the time you’re 10 minutes in, you’ve escaped your iPhone and remembered how good it feels to be moving, and the rest of the hour flies by.
Being able to achieve complete focus is the key to excelling in a fitness regimen—and everything else in life. It’s good for your mind and for your self-confidence.
One tip from Csikszentmihalyi: to “get in the zone” requires doing an activity that is challenging and that you enjoy. If you’re searching for something, yoga and martial arts are two activities that foster a focused state of mind.