Fitness class mixes cardio with mindfulness

Shrink Session isn’t your typical fitness class— life and fitness coach Erin Stutland created the workout for your mind, body and soul.

"I believe that movement in your body creates movement in your life. Shrink Session takes the mindfulness and intention of yoga, and it combines it with heart-pumping movement like cardio dance, kickboxing and toning. So that the workout is just as much for your mind as it is your body, Stutland said.

Stutland uses mantras to strengthen positive and powerful thinking, along with working your muscles— it’s a trick she used to boost her confidence as a struggling dancer.

"One thing I would do every day before I went to dance classes was write out these mantras: ‘I am a powerful dancer,’ ‘I am a confident dancer,’ ‘I pick up the movement fast, I see the combinations and I get it,’” she said.

Researchers at Kent University tested “self talk” with a group of cyclists and found those who repeated positive affirmations pedaled much longer and felt less exhausted, compared to those who didn’t.

"If you include positive affirmations with your exercise, you increase not only your mood but you increase that motivation to continue exercising. And I've certainly experienced this on my own,” said Dr. Wendy Suzuki, author of “Healthy Brain, Happy Life.” “If we pair exercise with affirmations, which I called ‘intentional exercise,’ people are sort of super charging [their] workout."

Another benefit is to take the positivity out of the gym and into your life.

“I feel like I would walk away from our training sessions saying, ‘It’s my time; my vision is clear,’” said Evelyn Fontana, a professional modern dancer living in East Harlem, New York, who teaches Shrink Session. “You’re walking away living out the things that you’re doing in a very real way.”

“When you’re moving and you’re saying mantras at the same time, it just connects you and brings you into that moment,” Elsye Sparks, 23, a personal trainer and yoga teacher in Brooklyn, New York, said.

Of course, there are physical benefits, too.

“It really taught me how to live in my body, and I think it was really the beginning of me really liking to work out, honestly,” said Shayna Leigh, 29, a singer/songwriter living in New York City.

The 55-minute classes are taught live in New York City and Los Angeles. Shrink Session also offers an online program for $99 that includes shorter workouts to fit into your busy day.

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