Over two years ago I went to a seminar where I was introduced to what I feel has been the missing puzzle piece to getting healthy and strong. Once I began to think about it, I couldn’t stop seeing how much it impacts everyone.
But I don’t even want to say it. It’s such a hot topic in the fitness industry, and when something is popular some people go crazy and get way too obsessed with it and some people are assholes and they bash it without really having a full understanding of it.
What I realized that day that the missing puzzle piece was BREATHING.
Before I tell you about the tool that has given amazing results not only at GYM Laird, but at gyms across the country, let me quickly tell you how things are done at our gym.
This is usually how our conversations go when we meet with a new clients
New client: Hi! I want to get in-shape! I want to work out hard and lift heavy weights
Us: Perfect! So you want to look good and feel good, right? Those are your goals?
New client: Exactly!
Us: Awesome. We will get you what you want, but you’re going to have to do something for us, are you okay with that?
New client: Yeah…Run a few miles on my days off? Throw in some spinning classes on the weekends? What more do you want me to do? I’ll do it!
Us: Nope. We need you to learn how to chill the fuck out.
Okay. Maybe the conversations don’t go exactly like that, but pretty close. After years of watching Jim Laird take our clients through orientation I noticed a pattern:
People are crazy stress monsters
For about 18 years Jim has been getting people results by focusing on strength and movement, as well as getting clients to take care of themselves outside of the gym. What you do the 23 hours you’re not in the gym will impact your results more than your training itself.
So that’s where this whole breathing thing comes in…but I’m not talking about the breathing you’ve been reading about. Breathing exercises to do in the gym, positional breathing, PRI, breathing and bracing…etc (We do use those different approaches, but they won’t be mentioned in this post) I’m talking about using breathing as a tool to give to your clients outside of the gym.
Like I said above, we make it a priority to get people to take care of themselves. It’s sad that we have to remind, even encourage people to sleep, eat real food, and sit back and relax every once and a while. Everyone I know is walking around in a complete state of panic. They might actually not even know they’re panicking, but their body and mind sure feels like they are.
What would happened if you felt threaten by someone or something?
Your body would naturally go into fight or flight…because that’s what it does when it feels threatened, right?
Also, your breathing would get shallow, it would get noisy, it would be visible (chest going up and down), and you would probably hold your breath, gasp for air, hyperventilate and start mouth breathing. When people feel unsafe or threatened they freak out.
Your breathing pattern can really impact which nervous system is on over-drive. The way you breathe can trick your body into thinking it’s not safe.
So now after you read this post go to the grocery store and people watch. Pay attention to how many people are breathing like someone is chasing them with a knife while they are doing something as simple as buying a carton of milk.
Do you think that’s an okay way to live? In a constant state of “Holy F&@^”?
Being aware of our breathing is a concept that is new to a lot of people. It’s an involuntary movement, so why should we pay attention to it?
Just because you do it all the time, and you do it without thinking about it, doesn’t mean you’re breathing correctly. Breathing is a movement, and from what I’ve seen in the last two years by creepily observing everyone is that most people are walking around hyperventilating and mouth breathing. People have re-trained their body to breathe incorrectly and because of this dysfunctional pattern, they are living in a state of panic.
People may not be aware of their dysfunctional breathing patterns, but they will feel the effects of it. These people feel stressed! And they are tired of hearing “Oh, just don’t stress out so much!” or “Try to relax!” The sad thing is not many people know what they can do about it. People run their bodies down when they consistently breathe incorrectly.
These clients are unable to recover well, making results at the gym hard to come by.
Exercise is a stress and in most cases that’s a good thing.
Stress your body -> Recover -> Repeat = Results
But what happens when you can’t shut off, or chill out? You will walk into the gym, kill a bear or deadlift 300lbs and go home with your body thinking you’re still being chased by an imaginary tiger.
It doesn’t matter what your training goals are, or what you do in your training if you aren’t able to chill out as soon as you leave the gym, there’s something wrong.
We all like to train hard, but like Jim always says “You can’t run a car 100mph all day long without doing any maintenance to it”….Or something like that…
That is why this is really important. It’s an amazing tool that REALLY works! It doesn’t fix everyone problems, but it has been a huge game changer for us and a lot of other people.
So here’s what we do:
We make people aware of their breathing.
We get people to re-train their bodies, we teach them to pay attention to their breathing.
We also trick them into meditating. Personally, I always thought meditating was the ability to shut off your mind, which, I found impossible to do. Until, I ran into mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation requires you to focus on breathing, and existing in the moment.
What I’ve found that has really worked well is the Buteyko Breathing Method. Most of us are walking around hyperventilating, demanding too much air. The Buteyko method gets people to slow down their breathing, which encourages their bodies to demand less air and become more efficient with each breath.
When you slow down your breathing you will automatically begin feeling calmer. Your mind will be taken away from your busy life when it is focused on your breath and in turn, it will lead you to exist in the moment. Which is something many people struggle with.
When you nasal breathe you create NO (nitric oxide) It’s a vasodilator and bronchodilator which can help with oxygen absorption. NO is lethal to viruses and bacteria, and that’s exactly what you need when you’re in many different environments with many different people. People who constantly mouth breathe don’t get that same filter, which often leads to horrible allergies, constant congestion and an inclination to get sick.
To learn more about how breathing is affecting your asthma and allergies -> CLICK HERE
I could go on and on talking about all the benefits of nasal breathing but then this post would be way too long, so I’ll give you one more that I think will really interest you if you’re into the whole training hard thing.
If you’re not breathing through your nose during the day, you’re not breathing through your nose while you sleep. That means the quality of sleep you’re getting is pretty shitty. Your body is still running away from that imaginary tiger while you are trying to rest. It’s not fun waking up tired with a dry mouth and a stuffy nose. If you’re training hard, you need your rest!
Remember the equation above: Stress your body -> Recover -> Repeat = Results
We all know how important recovery is! You don’t want to miss out on deep wonderful restorative sleep.
Many of our clients are sleeping better and recovering faster just by focusing on their breathing. I also give them a little help! I give them three things that help facilitate nasal breathing.
It’s crazy how many people love this!
Things you’ll need:
1. Xylitol Nasal Spray
2. Neti Stik
3. Breathe Right Nasal Strips
For 30 days you will use your nasal spray a few times a day and you will keep your neti stik in your pocket. Use that as many times as you want. The neti stik feels soooo good!
Start sleeping with the nasal strips, but you might not NEED them. To test this, press your fingers to your cheek bones and pull out. If you’re first thought is “OMG I can breathe!” then you need nasal strips. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
And now you just need to practice. Try to be aware of your breathing as often as possible; in your car, while walking the dog, watching tv, cooking…etc.
We also encourage people to take at least 10 minutes a day and focus on their breath. Lay on your back or sit on a comfortable chair, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, teeth apart and mouth closed. Breathe in for 3-4 seconds and out for 5-6 seconds. You want the exhale to be longer than the inhale, and you want your breathing to be silent! (If you’re a big strong dude, try sitting instead of laying on the floor). To make this even better, put some earplugs in and make sure you can’t hear yourself breathing!
Try it for 30 days! And if you want to go back to being a mouth breather after that, that is up to you.