Slowing down is getting stronger in disguise, according to Holly Rilinger, founder of LIFTED, a HIIT and meditation class at Studio B in New York City. In her new book, Lifted: 28 Days to Focus Your Mind, Strengthen Your Body, and Elevate Your Spirit, Rilinger shares a HIIT workout program with meditation woven in to help you build a deeper mind, body and spirit connection.
So why’s Rilinger dialing down the intensity instead of cranking it all the way up like the rest of the fitness industry? We’ve forgotten how to appreciate what rest and recovery can do for you, she says.
“Slowing down is one of the most underrated things about wellness. From recovery to sleep to breathing to days off, people just aren’t doing enough of these things,” Rilinger says.
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A Focused Mind Means a Stronger Body
As meditation subtly becomes more integrated into fitness classes, like LIFTED, Rilinger is hoping people embrace the softer side of wellness. “In the last five years, the average person has become interested in being an athlete and training like one. But now, we see people exploring the other extreme, and they’re curious about what mindfulness and meditation can do,” she says.
The Nike master trainer discovered the power of meditation four years ago when a friend invited her to a meditation class. Rilinger confesses she was a non-believer when she did her first meditation. But she quickly realized how it helped her reduce stress, gave her more clarity and put more thought behind each movement in her workouts.
“I noticed how much more calmness [meditation] has brought to every part of life,” she says. That got her thinking about designing a workout that does both. “For many people, especially New Yorkers, getting someone to go to a 30-minute meditation class and skipping a workout is a big ask. But if you could sprinkle it into your workout, it’s the perfect way to use your hour,” Rilinger says.
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Get Lifted: 28 Days to a Stronger Mind, Body and Spirit
Rilinger designed the 28-day HIIT and meditation program, detailed in her book, for people who aren’t able to take her class at Studio B, or want to do it at home or at the gym. “28 days is short enough to follow along and adopt positive habits, but long enough to make lasting change and see results. You’ll start to have more mental clarity, your body will get stronger and overall you’ll feel happier,” Rilinger says.
If you’re new to meditation, Rilinger shares her foolproof strategies on how to gradually incorporate the practice into your lifestyle. “Start small. 30 minutes is a lot, but five minutes? That’s a great place to start. It’s all about making meditation approachable and sustainable,” she says.
In addition to the workouts, Rilinger shares tips on how to create a dream board for manifesting any health and fitness goals. “As a former pro athlete, I’ve always been someone who knows the upside of hard training, but I also had to learn how to visualize and be really strong mentally,” says Rilinger, who used to play professional basketball internationally. She also provides her own goal-setting and positive thinking exercises to help you overcome physical and mental challenges. And to tie in nutrition, Rilinger shares some of her favorite nourishing recipes.
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3 Moving Meditations to Infuse Mindfulness Into Your Workout
So what does a LIFTED moving meditation look like exactly? Rilinger designed these meditations for the beginning, middle and end of her workouts to help you catch your breath and prepare yourself for what’s next. “When we calm down and give ourselves the luxury of the workout, we’re going to do a push-up better, lunge deeper and squat lower,” RIlinger says.
1. The Reset
Rilinger opens up her LIFTED workout with a five-minute savasana-inspired moving meditation to help you leave the chaos of your day behind you and turn off all distractions. “It’s separation from what’s out there and what’s in here. You’re sitting down and closing your eyes, and you’re dedicating yourself completely to the workout ahead of you.” Lying with your back flat on a mat, you’ll bring your hands over your head. As you roll up to sit, fold your arms over your legs and reach for your toes.
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2. The Reach
“This gives you the luxury of sitting in that magic moment.”
After 40 minutes of intensity, you can feel your chest rising and falling, and the sweat pouring down your face. Rilinger says, “In most workouts, that’s the end, and people are mentally moving on to Facebook, Instagram, email. But this gives you the luxury of sitting in that magic moment.” Sitting on a mat with your feet out in front of you and your eyes closed, lean back and reach for the left edge of the mat with your left hand. Then return to sitting before alternating sides. This meditation forces you to slow your heart rate down, but it’s still an active recovery, Rilinger says. Take this moment to prepare yourself for the last two songs of the workout — or the last 10 minutes of intense exercise.
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3. Bottle It Up
Rilinger says this last meditation is reminiscent of the Sun Salutation in yoga and allows you to bask in that victorious moment of completing a workout and giving it your all. “Just like yoga, it’s that dreamy savasana at the end. You’re letting go of all the frustrations from the day and connecting to what’s important to you,” she says. Rilinger explains if you could bottle up this feeling and take a sip of it later, that’s what it is.
Get your own copy of Lifted: 28 Days to Focus Your Mind, Strengthen Your Body, and Elevate Your Spirit, available now wherever books are sold.