Is Your Time at the Gym Filled with Intention or Mindless Work?
Written by Kirsten Ahrendt

Overheard in a recent yoga session…

Yoga Instructor: Ask your heart what is your intention for today’s session? What did you come to receive?

Me (silently): Huh? I don’t know. Heart, what DO you want? I just came because I said I would do this in #ManifestMonday.

Yoga Instructor: “Yoga without an intention is just work.”

Me: <mind blown!>

Was it the universality of the statement? Was it the fact that I was in Heart Opener pose? Did I glimpse nirvana? I’m unsure. But all of a sudden, this statement felt like a lens to view every endeavor through.

Without INTENTION, it’s just WORK. 

Replace the word “yoga” with practically any other word and the sentiment still rings true.

  • CrossFit without intention is just work.
  • A relationship without intention is just work.
  • A meeting without intention is just work.
  • Changing your nutrition without intention is just work.
  • Journaling without intention is just work.

Raise your hand if you think you need more “work” added to your schedule? <crickets>

More Mindless Work

Work itself is not inherently bad. However, we can either engage in purpose-driven work that moves us closer to our goals or we can busy ourselves with work/activities/conversations, etc. that keep us stagnant. It’s safe to say that all of our lives are filled with to-do’s and need-to’s that keep us busy, occupied, preoccupied, distracted, stressed out, and away from meaningful activities, relationships, and work; or at the very least contribute very little to those meaningful activities.

Even though I couldn’t find the words to express (in my mind) what I had come to receive during my yoga class, I knew for certain what I did NOT set my alarm early for – More. Mindless. Work. Which lead me to realize that without an intention (no matter how small), I’m just going through some motions. 

What is your intention?

I challenge you to consider how identifying an intention would elevate your daily/weekly/monthly experience at Invictus. Ask yourself, “Is my hour at Invictus more than just mindless work?” This doesn’t have to be complicated or “big picture”. Physical exercise is a “practice”, just like the practice of yoga.

Setting Intention

EVERY day you walk into the gym – set an intention. What do you want to get out of the day’s session? Here are some examples:

Today I want to:

  • Pay attention to my self-talk
    • Implementation: utilize positive self-talk when I begin to fatigue and feel down
  • Connect with my body, not my ego
    • Implementation: I feel fatigued and stressed from life outside the gym, I’ll customize movements/load/volume/intensity to stay at an RPE of 5-6.
  • Test my capacity
    • Implementation: I’m going to go hard today and truly push my limits to use this as a data point of my fitness. (this needs to be done FAR less than you think!)
  • Expand my capacity
    • Implementation: Appropriately customize workload towards my ability and skill to hit the correct stimulus rather than test my limits (this needs to be done far more than you think!)
  • Challenge myself in someway
    • Implementation: I’ll use a weight that makes me “nervous” on the barbell, even if it means I am last to finish the workout rather than using a weight that I know I can move easily. OR: Going really hard/intensity scares me! So I will customize the reps and distance so I can really push my limits.
  • Practice a new skill
    • Implementation: I will slow my pace down so I can practice nasal breathing.
  • Socialize and have fun
    • Implementation: Partner with someone new, introduce myself to 3 new people, cheer someone else on during the workout. 

Using Intention as a Roadmap

Intention is like looking at a road map and declaring “we’re going to THIS town!”

Now we can map out a route to get there. We understand the importance of turning left or right. We understand that if we have the time for the scenic route, it may add time to the journey, but the overall experience and trip may be more beautiful. All of a sudden we’re not driving randomly. We’re driving with purpose! 

Joe De Sena calls this “identifying your True North” in his book The Spartan Way. When you identify what you want – “your true north” – it will guide your actions, thoughts, and behaviors. Life is easier when we declare our True North – we have a focal point, decisions are more in alignment with our overall goal. 

Even if you haven’t identified your True North in life, practice identifying small focal points for activities, relationships, endeavors you’re participating in and see how it guides your decisions, behaviors, and engagement in said activity. 

Where is your journey at Invictus headed? Have you identified that? Pull your coach aside during the next class and tell them what your intention is – for that class, or for your long term journey. 


Need help setting your fitness intention or with the roadmap to get there? Our online programs and amazing coaches can help you get there, no matter where that is! All of the Invictus Online Programs started new cycles this week and it’s not too late for you to join in on the fun with a purpose!

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Mila
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Mila

Wonderful article, thanks

Carolyn Sprinkle
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Carolyn Sprinkle

Thanks!