Twice a week I take part in a high-intensity exercise class at the Y that's challenging not only physically but mentally. Let me illustrate: at one point the other night we were doing crab-walks back and forth across the room, for four minutes straight, while the "Sponge Bob Square Pants" anthem was blaring. You look ridiculous, you're panting for breath and your muscles are screaming (it helps that the instructors are funny, loud and motivating).
So I was describing the class to friends the other day, trying to get some new recruits, and one woman commented, "It sounds like meditation."
Say what?! To me meditation means sitting quietly with your eyes closed, letting your distracting thoughts drift away, with perhaps some incense smoldering and a gong chiming. (More often than not, I nod off.)
But my perceptive friend was absolutely right. Talk about focus: in the midst of this class all you can think about is the next 30 seconds (that's how long a set lasts) and how you're going to get through it. You can't think about the hassles of your day, or the problems of the world, or your skyrocketing health insurance premium. There's no room for ego or "spin."
Plus it absolutely torches calories. A win-win situation.