COMMUNITY: A little rest, alone time important for workouts

Fitness tip by Adam Rees

JR Ogden
Published: December 21 2013 | 5:52 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:09 am in
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Editor’s note: Adam Rees is founder of GRIT GYM, a gym based on results, creating a culture and lifestyle of performance, strength, health and freedom to live life on your own terms. Rees attended Wartburg, worked under nationally recognized strength coach Matt McGettigan at ISU and is generally a glutton for information and improvement in all forms.

By Adam Rees, community contributor

“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world” is a line from a Barbara Streisand song. What a sad tragedy that’d be if it were true.

Truth is that needy people need people. And this is normal.

“Normal” is based on what is common and personally I have no desire to be normal. Champions are anything but normal. Normal is getting paid for a job you don’t like that takes away from a life you’re not present for with a partner you complain about, an increasing belt line, terrible posture, painful movement patterns and 1.75 kids you want to escape.

Normal is needy.

If you find yourself looking for more things to do and more people around you, or if this has just somehow “become your life,” it’s a good sign you need to be alone for some time and practice relaxing — no matter how hard it is.

Sympathetic activity would be things like exercise, work, studying or physically strenuous. Parasympathetic activity is more a lack of activity, it’s more like rest and relaxation.

Sleep, breathing pattern work, meditation and even yoga/Pilates or being present during a cold beer on a hot day can be parasympathetic. It’s extremely important, and our society is awful at it. Even the best at it still are awful, including myself, and I make time for this everyday.

Parasympathetic activity actually is far more important for health than exercise or other sympathetic activities. And extremely powerful in sports performance from a recovery standpoint as well as sports psych. The athlete with the mental edge usually wins.

It is surprising how hard it is for people (even youth athletes) to take a nap during the day or grab 15 minutes by themselves with their eyes closed, simply trying to relax their muscles. They instantly have the urge to move, to act, to “do” something.

This is the biggest underlying piece of this health/life/fitness/performance puzzle no one is talking about. So much so that almost everyone will have a surge of anxiety during that first 15-minute period — and they’ll find a reason to avoid doing it in the future.

Try it. Try to sit in a room, eyes closed, letting the mind go blank but not falling asleep and let everything go. Take some time alone and practice this. Saying you don’t have time is your mind tricking you. Of course you can make time. If you can find time for a shower or a bathroom break, you can find 15 minutes.

Practice simply trying to relax your entire body while doing nothing but breathing deep down into your belly. The ensuing uncomfortable feeling? That’s called growth.

  • For more of Rees’ advice go to and

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