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For those of you who can't receive intuitive signals even with a satellite dish, there are concrete ways to cultivate this "sixth sense."
Motivational speaker Lynne Robinson claims that the key to developing intuition is learning how it speaks to you. Many people feel they open their intuitive channels when they quiet the mind through meditation. Some get that "Eureka" moment when they go for a walk. Still others nap with the certainty that the answer to a nagging problem will well up from their unconscious.

"A lot of research shows that answers come when you're showering," Robinson adds.


From The Body Sculpting Bible For Men
Hatherleigh Press February 2002. Order details here
Dr. Mona Lisa Schultz advises us to ask our intuition open-ended questions. Sit down in a quiet spot and pose questions to your inner self. What can I do to get the best workout? How can I tone my body better? Which trainer should I use? (Don't ask: Is swimming better than cycling? For some reason, intuition doesn't like to be pinned down.) If you feel pain during an exercise, ask the body, "What do you need right now?" You may get a flash of insight that tells you to stretch more, or a feeling of coolness or warmth that indicates you need to heat or ice the injury. Your body's intuition provides information on what it needs to best heal or develop.

FOLLOW YOUR ENTHUSIASMS

Follow your enthusiasms. Many people follow an exercise routine obligatorily, because they've been convinced of its benefits, but since it often contravenes their natural tendencies, they soon surrender interest. Intuition can manifest your enthusiasms and lead you in the direction of more enjoyable, organic sports and workouts.

Ah, you ask, but how do you know that the inner voice telling you to "Skip your workout today" is your inner wisdom and not the grinch who stole fitness or a voice from your dark side that ferociously defies each step of personal growth? And what's the difference between intuition and fear? (Oddly enough, they're anatomical neighbours, located in the same area of the brain.)

Robinson claims that when you contemplate a correct intuitive course of action, "a sense of peace comes over you." You should then take some small steps toward that goal; if you feel consistently passionate and excited about it over time, score one for your intuition. For example, you're wondering if you should hire a personal trainer. Your first instinct is "He'll bully me and I'll feel awful." If you think that's one of your self-defeating devils talking, review your life and note when that voice last piped up and what happened when you acquiesced to it. If you're still not sure, call a few trainers. Do you feel excited or anxious when you speak to them? If you feel positive, that's your intuition impelling you to "Go for it."

Schultz agrees that the way to corroborate what we think is an intuitive hunch is to collect additional information. If you're having a bad workout and sense you want to quit, ask yourself what's wrong. Become more analytical. You may realize that an extra work assignment or a family problem may be affecting your focus. If you can't find an answer, file the problem in your mind and monitor your mood the following day. Also, consider your personality: If you're normally a dedicated exerciser and you show up at the gym unmotivated, it may be a sign to go AWOL that day. However, if the feeling continues for a month straight, that's not intuition, it's avoidance.

KEEP RECORD BOOKS

Ed McNeely, president of the Sport Performance Institute in Ottawa, Canada, says intuition is a matter of record-keeping. "It may take a year to 18 months to understand how you react to different training habits, sleep schedules, and diet," he says. To help uncover obscure patterns and discern their meaning, he suggests you keep a workout log.

McNeely suggests that the logbook contain as much detail as possible, including the distance you ran/swum/cycled, the number of sets and reps, between-sets rest time, intensity (percentage of max), and, most important, post-performance data (gathered the next morning) such as how well you slept, your degree of motivation, any muscle or joint soreness, your morning heart rate, and pre-breakfast body weight. You should rate these factors on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best. When you start seeing things moving in a negative direction, look at your training program and make adjustments. "For instance," McNeely says, "suppose you run a mile more than usual and feel tired the next day. Then you review the logbook and see that the last time that happened you also felt tired. You'll realize it's probably not a good idea to do that extra mile."

Even though we have all the tools, our intuition can still be drowned out by the din of the world - as in group exercise classes, with their sonic-boom musical assault, screeching instructors, disco balls, and nightclub-like disorientation. Under circumstances like these, you'll have to work a little harder to hear that soft inner voice. And if you work with a trainer, make sure he listens to how you're feeling and, if possible, collects information on this as well.

If you follow these steps, your workouts will become more enjoyable and productive. Don't ask me how I know. I just have a hunch.

Jim Gerard/EPN

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