Your Mind Is Your Gym: Your Brain Is All the Equipment You Need

Jeff Kuhland


Lynchburg, Virginia, United States

MovNat, Mobility & Recovery


I recently taught a workshop for MovNat and was inspired by one of my participants. We normally get a group of motivated, intelligent, and creative people taking our workshops, but this man was truly inspiring. At 61 years old he can do pull ups, jump, balance, and run.


He inspired me because of his mental toughness and the tenacity with which he pursues health and fitness. Along with believing that "fitness should not be expensive," he had a saying that stuck with me - "Your mind is your gym.”



In MovNat we talk extensively about being adaptive and opportunistic in our training. This man was a living example, and an inspiration to everyone at the workshop. Wherever his mind was, he had the opportunity to make it his gym - or his playground.


functional fitness, movnat, jeff kuhland, outdoor fitness, learning new skills


A Foundation of Movement

“Your mind is your gym” is a powerful saying and speaks to the importance of bodyweight training. The only equipment you need is your mind, and having base strength and coordination benefits any other type of training, including endurance running or Olympic lifting.


If you can control your own body through any range of motion and movement, it directly translates to controlling an external load. Al Kavaldo was recently featured on Breaking Muscle and has shown people a taste of what is possible in bodyweight exercise with intelligent training and proper progressions. 


A Creative Perspective

Being adaptive and seeking opportunistic training means you are limited only by your own creativity. It is common to get stuck in linear paths and strict training methods. Even CrossFit, which preaches training to be ready for anything in life, gets stuck in linear training and limited variety. An easy example is jumping. When is the last time anyone jumped laterally, with one leg, for distance rather than height, or for a target?



It is easy to get stuck into conventional fitness and not want to break out of the norm. When you begin to work out differently it challenges your creativity. You are often not good at the new skills until you practice them. Seeing you do something unique also challenges other people. People will wonder why you are doing things differently.



Some will ask why, and others will think you are ridiculous. You may hear things like, “Excuse me, climbing is dangerous and you are going to hurt yourself. You better stop and just do pull ups at the gym." And that is the nice version.


Don’t get stuck doing the same movements week after week and year after year. If your training has not changed and progressed, it’s likely your fitness has stagnated also. Breaking Muscle has a wide variety of training plans already available for you - check out Dusty’s handstand progressions, Erwan’s MovNat training plans, or Al Kavaldo’s bodyweight progressions. You’ll begin to notice you can achieve a high level of fitness and functionality with little to no equipment.



A Child’s Mind

Becoming creative in your workouts is a skill that must be developed. The first time you go out to do a workout in a park, your backyard, the woods, or anywhere else, it’s hard to get away from the gym movements and gym process.


Remember back when you were a child, when games spontaneously started and they just as quickly changed in rules and structure. Try playing a game of tag with your friends. It’s a lot harder than you remember. Then swing across the monkey bars.


functional fitness, movnat, jeff kuhland, outdoor fitness, learning new skills


Somehow this too changed from something you did for fun to something quite challenging. Kids are quick to push their limits, and often slow to complain about hard effort, as long as it’s fun. When is the last time you had fun during a workout?


Try this list below for some new workout ideas. Take some of your traditional training on the road with you and see what fun can result:


  • Play tag with friends
  • Climb a tree, pole, or anything else you can find
  • Use a rope and swing into water
  • Run through the woods, not on a trail
  • Go urban and find new areas to work out in the city
  • Play dodge ball
  • Swim underwater while holding your breath
  • Climb on rocks while on a hike or near a river
  • Crawl and practice forward rolls
  • Make up a game with your friends and get competitive


Don’t let the usual excuses hold you back from doing something truly fun and truly effective. Change your workouts and you’ll change your results. Have fun this week!


Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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