For clients and trainers alike, working out is often a time to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect to the moment by tuning into the mind-body.

Distracted Trainer

But ask yourself, are you being mindful? Or are you taking sneak peeks at your phone to play DJ, set a timer, take a photo or video, check your DMs? Recently, I’ve noticed not only the average gym patron tapping their screens every few minutes during an exercise session, but trainers are, too. Not only does this convey a sense of unprofessionalism, but it’s not ideal behavior to tune into your client’s performance.

Compulsion at the Sake of Productivity

Sure, fit pros could have justifiable reasons for such compulsive phone behaviors. It’s not just equipment and exercises that evolve, but the tools that facilitate active, healthy lifestyles do, too. Technology growth is robust, and as fitness professionals, we keep abreast of those advancements in order to better serve clients. Apps that help us track progress and macros, online/video coaching, all exist in order to make us more efficient and productive.

There are plenty of compelling reasons to be on our phones. But, are there better reasons to put down our phones? Can we cultivate a mind-body connection doing simple daily tasks?

Phone Break Challenge

A fellow trainer friend and I decided to challenge ourselves to put the phone down in the name of being more mindful. We made a list of the times we are phone dependent, and times we could truly use to be more observant and present.

no phone zone

  • Meals: We found that while we were eating faster than usual when resisting screen time, we were eating less. Eating mindfully made me more aware signs of satiation.
  • Bathroom breaks: Prior to the challenge at home or work, I’d noticed that if I began walking toward the restroom, I’d run back to grab my phone. Now I read a magazine or just simply enjoy being with my thoughts.
  • Walking to-and-from: from the door to the car, the car to the door, looking down at my phone made me oblivious to my surroundings. Now, walking around without my phone is like playing Frogger in the world of pedestrians looking at their phones. It makes for great people watching. I also realized that I pass a lot of familiar faces, so I say hello or shout out a compliment.
  • Running: In the past I rationalized that I couldn’t run with my phone because I’d call someone to pick me up midway. For this challenge I stepped back into that mindset and dug up my old iPod. It was great reminiscing to some 10-year-old playlists.
  • Before Bed: No more phone an hour before bed has helped me work on passive recovery and connect with my family.

Out of all the challenges I’ve ever done: diet fads, cleanses and detoxes, self-love, yoga and exercise challenges, this was the hardest one to adopt. There was, and still is at times, some anxiety when I make a conscious effort to unplug and be more mindful. But ultimately I know that working on my own connections will enhance those I am making with clients, and that will be beneficial as a trainer.


Theresa Perales

Theresa Perales has an MA in Spanish, and is an ESL teacher at San Diego State University (SDSU). After years of struggling with her weight, she decided to give exercise a try. A passion for health and fitness grew instantly and inspired her to become certified as a personal trainer with NFPT, and as a group fitness instructor with AFAA Group Fitness and Madd Dog Athletics® Spinning. Theresa believes that nutrition and fitness are not about aesthetics but ultimately about feeling healthy and empowered.