By Holly Rilinger | photos by Jay Sullivan Photography
I think it’s important to ask ourselves WHY we workout. What is the real reason we show up day in and day out, pushing ourselves, testing our limits and our willpower. There are many answers, but is it possible that HAPPINESS can be one of those reasons?
This past spring, I launched my new workout program: LIFTED. In an hour-long class, I’ve combined two techniques that at face value may seem very different: Meditation and HIIT.
"What is the real reason we show up day in and day out, pushing ourselves, testing our limits and our willpower. There are many answers, but is it possible that HAPPINESS can be one of those reasons?"
Although they seem like opposites, even great athletes have used the power of focus and concentration to enhance their performance. We do everything better when we give it our full attention. We live in a world where we have to multitask and are in constant contact with others, checking our phones a hundred times a day — which much of the time, causes us to not to live "in the moment." Through meditation, we become an observer to our thoughts. While we don't stop thinking while we meditate, we do center our attention and focus on the present moment. In addition to the short guided meditations in this class, we move to the rhythm of the music for the cardio strength training portion, which encourages you to be mindful of your body and its movements.
"Through meditation, we become an observer to our thoughts. While we don't stop thinking while we meditate, we do center our attention and focus on the present moment."
The class starts in a seated five-minute guided meditation. The importance of this is to leave your day behind, focusing on the present moment. Following the first meditation and an intense HIIT strength training sequence, we go back into another five-minute meditation. This second meditation feels very different from the first. While the first meditation is a transition from your day to the class, during the second meditation your heart will be racing from the training portion, your day will be further away from you, and you can dive deeper into the class. Most people find it easier to meditate during this second section.
While meditation has always been prevalent in the wellness space, it has recently become popular in the fitness industry, with more studios opening and making it more accessible. Outside of yoga, there has been a separation of body, mind, and spiritual well-being, but the truth is, to be healthy and find true joy, they have to work together. I started meditating consistently over a year ago, and it has changed my life. When I developed this class, my hope was to introduce a very simple and short format meditation to people who may not have experienced its power before. We are busy people and there are only so many hours in a day, so when it comes to choosing between training our bodies (spin, weights, a run) and meditation, OF COURSE many people will choose to train their bodies. The great thing about LIFTED is that it combines the two.
Our breath is the one thing that is always constant in our lives. No matter what we’re doing at any given moment, our breath will either negatively or positively affect the experience. It has the ability to bring us to the present moment. The cardio strength training portion of the class acts as a moving meditation where we perform various exercises to the beat of the music. When we move mindfully, we give a workout our complete attention and ultimately we move better. When we move better, we can live better.
"Our breath is the one thing that is always constant in our lives. No matter what we’re doing at any given moment, our breath will either negatively or positively affect the experience."
This brings me back to why LIFTED is such a beneficial workout. I named the class LIFTED because it lifts our bodies in harmony with our minds, and the result is a lifting of the spirit. My hope is that we can take that feeling out the door with us and use it when we need it. Life is about finding your breath and being present even at a heightened state. We have highs and lows emotionally and energetically every day, and when things are tough, crazy, or hectic, we can learn to connect our bodies, our breath, and our minds to realize we’re always closer to “OK” than we think.
"I named the class LIFTED because it lifts our bodies in harmony with our minds, and the result is a lifting of the spirit."
Holly Rilinger is a certified personal trainer, master trainer at Nike, and Master Trainer at Flywheel.
Picture a childhood bedroom: posters of Michael Jordan, motivational quotes plastering the walls, sneakers and gear piled everywhere, and a young girl lying in bed, tossing a basketball into the air. Picture the chart this girl pinned to her garage wall to keep track of her daily workouts, percentage of shots made, and areas for improvement. Now, picture this young girl as an adult, one who turned hesitations about her 5’4” frame into fuel for making her basketball dreams come true. But this is not a story about dreams – it is one about reality. This is the story of Holly Rilinger.
Holly came to be named the #1 Freshman Pointguard by USA TODAY, the All-Time Leading Scorer at James Madison University, and a Strength and Conditioning All American. After all, her talents on the court were undeniable. However, things took a turn when reporters and coaches wary of her height aired their doubts about whether she could “wow” in the pros. After being turned down consistently by US agents, Holly discovered a New Zealand coach who had watched her game tape and wanted to give her a try. Holly drove his team to the National Championship that year. Finally attracting the attention she deserved from agents, Holly was quickly signed for her first pro gig in Germany, and subsequently for a cameo appearance on the WNBA team Phoenix Mercury.
Today, Holly channels the same drive, discipline, and heart it took for her to make it in the pros into every one of her clients. “Sharing the hope,” Holly says, “that is where the magic lies.”