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What is Emotional Fitness?


Emotional Fitness to me is best defined by empowering yourself emotionally through exercise. Movement can produce a calming affect and a release of our emotions, either joyous or sad. When we embrace fitness as a means of feeling more open emotionally, then our workouts can reach an entirely new level. We can harness the experience of physical exertion, and the thrill of pushing ourselves to new limits – both of which can release a feeling of euphoria (often referred to as endorphins) – all in order to maximize our emotional benefits, not just physical. When we experience exercise in this way, we then begin to live a better quality of life! When we see that exercise can push us emotionally, we witness the marvel of Emotional Fitness. 


When it comes to your fitness routine – whether you have one or not – I challenge you to think about the push-up and what it means to you. Perhaps you’re comfortable with them, or maybe not. Perhaps you have an emotional response when you think of push-ups, be it positive or negative. In any event, I will show you how this staple exercise can become a vehicle for the change for which you are looking.  I will explain how this powerful, engaging exercise can literally transform you, and not just physically.


As humans, no one is exempt from pain, sadness, anger, anxiety, stress or possibly trauma. Some of us have experienced tragic events, yet have risen above these pains and learned from these difficult times. If you’re one of these individuals, that’s beyond wonderful and you should be celebrated! However, for those of us who have experienced traumas, loss, or stresses from which you still might be suffering, please know that you are validated in feeling everything that you are experiencing – and that there is a way out!



What is Emotional Fitness?


Emotional Fitness to me is best defined by empowering yourself emotionally through exercise. Movement can produce a calming affect and a release of our emotions, either joyous or sad. When we embrace fitness as a means of feeling more open emotionally, then our workouts can reach an entirely new level. We can harness the experience of physical exertion, and the thrill of pushing ourselves to new limits – both of which can release a feeling of euphoria (often referred to as endorphins) – all in order to maximize our emotional benefits, not just physical. When we experience exercise in this way, we then begin to live a better quality of life! When we see that exercise can push us emotionally, we witness the marvel of Emotional Fitness.


Before you can fully experience the power of Emotional Fitness, though, you need to be ready within yourself first, in relation to the emotions that you wish to release.


Here are five important Master Mantras to conquer:



1. Embrace Your Inner Work, to Accept Your Path!


We all have a path that we are meant to fulfill in our lifetime. Although we experience sadness, loss, or trauma, we are ultimately meant to; it’s part of our path. The “inner work” we possess as human beings is both recognizing and addressing all that comes with our individual path, be it positive or negative. For the sake of freeing ourselves from the negative part of our path, by way of Emotional Fitness, you must recognize the lessons that you have yet to learn. Maybe you have already learned these lessons logically, but your emotional side still needs to catch up. Remember that either way, there’s absolutely NO value in being hard on yourself. You must give yourself credit for even wanting to become the best version of yourself (and maybe inspire others in the process) by embarking on Emotional Fitness. Please be mindful that there are plenty of people who feel that their path is much too painful to address. Therefore, be proud of yourself already! A friendly reminder to always be patient with yourself as you accept this path since you will be creating a NEW “YOU!”


2. Believe that You Are Worthy!


You are worthy of all of the greatness life has to offer. Yes, you are worthy! We often deprive ourselves, criticize ourselves, and harbor feelings of insignificance towards ourselves. These emotions sabotage us from our optimal emotional happiness. Once you start to realize you are worthy of emotional happiness, you can truly begin the process of obtaining it. Believing that you are worthy of this, though, is key. As you begin to face the negative emotions that plague you, know that you are worthy of relief from them. By embracing these intense feelings, you aren’t “running” from your demons, but are instead accepting your worthiness!


3. Know that You are Empowered!


Despite the intensity of any hardship, remember that you are not powerless and that you always have a choice in how you react to challenging times. You have free will! That fact is exciting and empowering! You are the one thing in life that you have control over! We often forget our inner powers and continue to feel like victims to our pain, stresses, or trauma. Remember to never forget the power that you possess – you are empowered.


4.  Lower the “Volume!”


Unfortunately, it’s vital to recognize and accept that some stresses do linger, and that we sadly cannot fully erase trauma. Such agony is often rooted in deeper stories of our upbringing or past. Trauma always stays with us. Although, knowing that you are worthy, and empowered – coupled with the work of Emotional Fitness -- can and will decrease the negative emotions from which you hope to be freed. This act of “lowering the volume” on such emotions (or thoughts) is the direct act of lessening their impact on us emotionally. 


5. Be Your Biggest Fan!  


It’s so tragic, but at times surprisingly true, that we are sometimes our own worst enemies. Sometimes we are the “villain” who keeps hurting ourselves emotionally long after the original perpetrators have. Be it blame, judgment, or a negative view of ourselves – we might add to the tough emotions that we’re trying to overcome. In this way, it becomes Us versus Us. Ironically, most of us would never treat our family or friends with the same harsh and critical tones in which we treat ourselves. Therefore, it’s time to start loving yourself unconditionally, despite any imperfect characteristics or negative events of your past. This last mantra can at times be the most challenging and difficult to admit – but you must become a fan of yourself if you’re going to one day be emotionally free from what’s holding you back. 

So, what does this have to do with the push-up and how can it free me emotionally?


The push-up is iconic for physical strength. It has been the symbol for physical prowess from soldiers training in the army, to legendary movies such as “Rocky,” and to strength and conditioning programs for athletes and non-athletes for decades.


The push-up is a perfect beginner exercise to venture into Emotional Fitness because, being a body-weight exercise, the push-up is about you mastering movement with yourself, versus using a piece of gym equipment. Moreover, such body-weight exercises can almost serve an act of meditation to stay as present as possible within your mind while engaging the emotional component during the workout. Additionally, the core engagement and physical involvement of the entire body that the push-up provides, again makes it a perfect exercise to embrace Emotional Fitness.  The push-up is also a very convenient exercise in that it doesn’t require any supporting equipment or apparatus to perform. It can be performed anywhere, whether at your local gym, or in the comfort of your own home. While proper execution is important when performing any exercise, you’ll be able to harness the power of a push-up towards emotional freedom when you are ready both physically and emotionally.



Before taking the starting position of a push-up, ensure proper execution – for added stability, strength, and power – by applying these tips called, “The Focused Five.”


  • Maintain a neutral spinal position (upper back and glutes are aligned)

  • Keep your quadriceps engaged with your knees fully extended

  • Engage your gluteus maximus

  • “Draw in” your abdominals

  • Utilize your downward inhaling / upward exhaling breath



Allow “The Focused Five” to be your guide in performing flawless push-ups along with the mantras detailed above.



Now You Are Ready…


Now it’s YOUR turn to make the push-up your own. It’s your time to empower yourself, it’s your time to address the stresses or traumas that enslave you, it’s your time to obtain emotional freedom, and most importantly, it’s your time to become who you want to be. Embracing the mantras above, you are ready and you can become the best version of yourself -- through exercise. You are ready to embrace the push-up and how it can help you to reach all of your goals. You are ready to become the strongest version of yourself emotionally and physically. You are ready because you are deserving of all of the self-love you need. You will be the love you never received. This will be the most important push-up you ever do because it’s truly about you deserving and obtaining what you are truly worth: emotional freedom. Now it’s time to utilize this classic exercise for our own emotional journey. It’s your time. 

Executing the Most Important Push-Up of Your Life


Starting Position: Position yourself with your chest facing the floor with your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart. Your fingers and thumbs are fully extended as if making “mitten hands” for added palm stability, with your elbows positioned only roughly 40-to-45 degrees from your body. Your knees, legs, feet and heels are positioned together to promote optimal core stability. Your knees are locked with your quadriceps and gluteal (“butt”) muscles fully engaged for added stability and strength. Your ankles should be positioned forward for added resistance and to engage more of your upper body. Remember to position yourself in the neutral spinal position.  The neutral spinal position can best be defined when the top of your shoulders, middle of your back, and gluteus maximus muscles are all perfectly aligned parallel to the floor.


Physically positioned to execute the push-up, now prepare yourself mentally: feeling the power of your body in this specific position, with your muscles engaged and braced for movement, bring your mind to the details of your stresses, daily struggles, or trauma. If it helps to close your eyes, do so. Feel that you are “in it,” perhaps thinking about the exact details of the event or how it makes you feel emotionally. Feeling the effort of holding this position, coupled with your emotions also braced and potentially vulnerable, you are ready. A gentle warning: try not to let all of this initial effort, physical or emotional, overwhelm you. Embrace what you are feeling physically and emotionally simultaneously – and even if it feels overwhelming, let that further inspire you; believe that you can conquer both the physical and emotional victoriously!


Next, while still prepared in the upright push-up position, envisioning the stresses or trauma in your mind from which you are suffering – now become empowered by them. Remember at this moment that you are still here living your life. These painful feelings have not beaten you! Do not be ashamed or overtaken by this pain! This trauma can no longer hurt you since it’s in the past. These daily stresses don’t have the power to hurt you since you now have a true positive solution to this pain through exercise. Now, it’s about you and emotional freedom. Now, go!


To Perform: lower yourself downward in a controlled fashion for two distinct seconds. Do this while bending your elbows to 90-degrees and keeping them above your wrists, although, be sure to keep your elbows tucked inward towards your ribcage as you will want to form a “Y” position throughout.  Be mindful to not create any internal rotation with your wrists or have your elbows flare outward more than 90-degrees (as this could cause unnecessary stress to your rotator cuff). While lowering yourself downward (as low as you feel controlled) and taking in a full deep breath, take a moment to appreciate all of the muscles actively working to get you here. Give credit to your physical being for bringing you to this place, this position, this moment in time – where you are now facing your emotional battle. As if the weight of everything emotionally is somehow rooted in the floor or ground below you, as if you imagined IT (a stress, a painful memory, a trauma) underneath your body, so that you’re focus is now metaphorically staring it right in the face (your focus close to/facing the ground in the lowered position of the push-up) – take a moment to really own the emotions or details of what holds you back emotionally. Meditate on those emotions or details so that you truly feel everything that stirs up inside you, envision those emotions swirling around inside you, even if it’s raw and intense and overwhelming. Your body engaged in the vulnerable yet empowered position of the lowered push-up, inches from the ground below you, where your pains lie, outside of yourself but right before your eyes …embrace how you’re feeling, how you’re eager to be free of those emotions once and for all, how you’re mantras remind you of your readiness and worthiness…and to the point of when holding this position and embracing these thoughts and emotions becomes almost too much to bear – now, push it all away. Literally. Metaphorically. Empathically.


To support you, again, here are those Master Mantras:


  • Accept Your Path

  • Believe that You are Worthy

  • Know that You are Empowered

  • It’s now time to “Lower the Volume”

  • Be Your Biggest Fan



As you push upward, prepare to merge the physical act of rising up with pushing it all away. Feel your arms, back, core, hips, legs, even your toes engaged in harmony to make your body move back upwards. Simultaneously though, with all the emotions swirling around inside you, exhale fully and slowly with intention – as you push away from the floor, and with every molecule of air you exhale, release the negative emotions that have overtaken you, so that they leave your body once and for all. Feel the release of pushing out all the negativity, as if you’re pushing it away from you beyond the physical surface of the floor or ground below you, beyond the weight of gravity that made the rise up more challenging, beyond the intensity of whatever it was that you were feeling mentally or physically, pushing it all to a place outside yourself that no longer takes residence inside you, to a place outside yourself that can no longer hurt you. You have done it. The beginning of a spiritual experience of how an exercise can help free you emotionally: Emotional Fitness.


In terms of proper form, strive for full range of motion by fully locking your elbows straight at the very top of the push-up. Your scapulae (shoulder-blades) should protract (move forward) and retract (move backward) with each push-up. Additionally, your head, shoulders, middle of your back, and gluteus maximus muscles should be all perfectly aligned throughout. This position must always be maintained during every push-up for correct core and muscle engagement.


You should begin to feel emotionally and physically empowered! You should feel excited and more importantly, relieved. Your painful emotions are beginning to literally work their way out of you now, so that their negative impact diminishes. As you become physically stronger with your push-ups, your mind will also become more mentally powerful. By embracing the push-up in this way, you will continue to free up more emotional space inside you, so that more of your pure inner self can thrive. The mind and body connection that you are creating is undeniable in achieving overall optimal strength, physically and emotionally. Each push-up is a chance to free yourself from the negative emotions of your life -- so keep going, and embrace each one with that goal in mind!


Coaching Tips


Foremost, if thinking about your painful emotions or memories is just too difficult, continue instead to embrace the mantras, both while, and even when you are not, exercising. Again, remember to have patience with yourself and not fear that a slow start equates to giving up. Some days you might feel more inspired and stronger to face the most painful sides within you, as you allow your body and Emotional Fitness to be your guide. Emotional Fitness is a journey in bettering yourself to live the best quality of life possible through intentional exercise practices. You do not have to be perfect on this journey, and you are certainly allowed to have rough days, so trust that your journey is uniquely yours, and that you will meet all of your goals when you are ready.  


More About Push-up Execution: Remember while performing the push-up to keep inhaling as you lower yourself downward and exhaling as you rise back upward. Do your best to eventually have your nose gently touch the floor at the lowest point of your push-up for optimal range of motion. If this exercise proves to be too difficult physically, remember to please be patient with your range of motion and stay consistent. With consistency and proper form, you will eventually obtain the proper strength to have your nose gently touch the floor for full range of motion. (Please note: The Isometric Push-up (shoulder plank) is an excellent exercise to develop the proper stability needed to produce the optimal strength to execute the push-up with full range of motion). Be mindful that positioning your feet in a shoulder-width stance would make this exercises significantly easier, but isn’t as beneficial in developing the core movement and stabilization muscles. Remember to shift your weight from your wrists to your palms for added stability and extend your knees fully to engage your rectus femoris, as this quadriceps engagement assists in hip flexor and core stability, which is optimal for the spine.



Final Thoughts


Personally speaking, my fitness journey has been one of great pride. As a child, I struggled with a lack of basic motor skills and was born with clubfeet. Additionally, I suffered from childhood traumas and adult stresses that accompanied these pains. However, I would not allow myself to be a “victim,” nor even “average” in life. My path was that of the classic underdog, full of emotion and empowerment! I set out to accomplish and conquer a long list of lofty goals both outside and inside of the gym. I allowed myself to ask for help when needed on my journey, but it was I and only I who had to do the “inner work” to obtain my true emotional freedom. I am proud to say that I have accomplished everything that I have set out to do in the last 15 years, because I embraced the mantras and physical exercise practices of Emotional Fitness.


Presently, I am the best version of myself because of what I embody within myself; not my personal, financial or aesthetic successes. I pride myself on being confident, hardworking, honest, unselfish, and strong. I choose to radiate with integrity in everything that I do in life because there’s no substitute for integrity. Moreover, true happiness is about loving yourself unconditionally, and being emotionally free from any negativity (or emotional burden) so that you can also love those around you in the same way.


Emotional Fitness has helped me find the best version of myself, from within. I only hope to continue to inspire others to find the same, while influencing the world to be kinder and happier. Remember, admitting and accepting your vulnerabilities only makes you stronger, and opens the door to the emotional relief or empowerment for which you are searching. Self-love is genuinely the best gif of all. Everything truly is within your power if you are willing to accept your path, believe you are worthy, know you are not powerless, that you can “lower the volume,” and be your biggest fan…


I might not know you personally, but I do believe in you! And, I trust you will make the brave choice on your own journey to be the best YOU possible!


You can live the life you deserve…


It’s just a push-up away…


While the focus here is on the push-up, it again is simply one introductory exercise to the fundamental practice of Emotional Fitness. In the same way that the push-up has a starting position, a distinct action, and then resolves back where you began – Emotional Fitness can be applied to countless other exercises where the same emotional workout is employed to obtain the same benefits: an emotional release amidst and physical exercise, for the good of obtaining emotional freedom or empowerment. So while this article focuses on freedom from a negative memory or emotion, it conversely can be applied with a purely positive approach too, aimed at obtaining emotional empowerment, via added strength and confidence.


For personalized guidance, inspiration, or support in your own Emotional Fitness journey, and to learn more about this program with added Action Steps, contact Shaun via the form below.

"Everything truly is within your power if you are willing to accept your path, believe you are worthy, know you are not powerless, that you can “lower the volume,” and be your biggest fan…




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