By Kathy Gilbert
What made NBA superstar Michael Jordan great? Long legs? Great shot mechanics? Super speed?
Wrong, local trainers say. He has an awesome brain.
"Michael Jordan was noted in NBA training circles for training harder than anyone," said Randy Webb, owner of Randy Webb's Futur/Fit in Brainerd who for many years trained a National Basketball Association player. "He excels because he has a goal and trains intensely."
Artists visualize paintings. Engineers plan new bridges.
And the brain is the architect of the body, local trainers said.
"Everything that has become manifested physically," he said, "was once a thought."
The ticket lies in strengthening three attitudes: Focus, willpower and determination. Mental exercises to develop these skills are even more important than crunches, lunges or cartwheels, said Brandon Brown , a personal trainer at the downtown Sports Barn.
"Focus, motivation and discipline are 90 percent of any workout," he said.
Discipline is the bedrock of any mind-training program, trainers said. In other words, before you can get great glutes, you need great guts.
Begin by taking responsibility, said Matt Eubanks, author of "Personal Training for the Mind, Body and Spirit" and owner of five personal training studios. Televisions don't turn themselves on, fast food doesn't buy itself.
"You are 100 percent responsible for your results, or lack thereof," Mr. Eubanks said. "And you have the power in you to change anything you want to change."
Build discipline by willing yourself to do what you?ve set out to do, Mr. Webb said. As Nike ads say, "just do it," he advised.
Motivation and discipline build on each other, he added. The more you work out, the better you feel, and the more you work out. Stick with a new routine long enough for the momentum to kick in, he added.
Motivation also hinges on doing things you love, Mr. Webb said. If treadmills don't knock your socks off, try rock-climbing or bellydancing.
While motivation and discipline get you into exercise, attention helps you get the most out of it, trainers said.
"When you hear yourself grunting and groaning and can do no more, you actually have a 30 to 60 percent reserve," Mr. Webb said.
Increasing mental focus also helps you push the body into that reserve, without injury, he said.
"The sharper you think and concentrate," added Ralph Aaron, a personal trainer who also works at the city of Chattanooga's Fitness Center at Warner Park, "the more muscle fiber you can incorporate."
Listening to your breath brings you to body awareness that you leads to increased efficiency, and a workout that is fatiguing without being dangerous, Ms. Swicord said.
Yoga and Pilates are excellent attention training exercises, she said.
"Yoga really lets you know whether you're in your body or you're letting it wander out the door," Ms. Swicord said. "Pilates is also very mental. It's a checkout, not a check-in."
You can also practice focusing, she said, by taking a walk. Listen to breathing, and where muscles feel good or where you feel pain.
Mr. Brown is no fan of yoga. But before and after each workout, he sits quietly and focuses on his body.
Drawing his energy inward, he pictures correct form, listens to his breath, notes how his muscles feel, prepares for the workout or registers its effects.
Like Michael Jordan, Mr. Brown once set a fitness goal. Four years later he reached it. Like Jordan, he had willpower and determination. But focus, he said, was the third ingredient in his success formula.
"I'm not zoning out," he said, "I'm zoning in."
E-mail Kathy Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To contact the trainers in this article: Ralph Aaron, city of Chattanooga?s Fitness Center at Warner Park, 1254 E. Third St., (423) 697-1320. Brandon Brown , Sports Barn downtown, 301 Market St., (423) 266-1125, www.sportsbarn.com. Matt Eubanks, five one-onone studio locations, call for appointment, (423) 595-6377, www.matteubanks.com. Madia?s Studio, 1426 Williams St., (423) 267-0007, www.madiastudio.com. Randy Webb's Futur/Fit, 5084 South Terrace Plaza, (423) 893-4844.