Your Personal Trainer: Focus in a workout makes all the difference

I have access to three different gyms — my home gym, a community center gym, and a commercial gym (you’d think I’d be much bigger). If the weather is bad or I’m not motivated to go out, I work out at home.

The community center gym came with my HOA and I haven’t used it much — though it’s nice. Recently, I was at my commercial gym and, except for the people watching, there wasn’t much to distract me. (I tuck away my phone and silence the ringer).

So, when at the gym, it’s just me and the equipment. It’s quality time for the two of us. I thought that was the way it was for everyone. I was wrong.

The rest period in between sets and exercises should be fairly short — 30 seconds to a minute depending on what you’re doing. But that’s not what I was witnessing.

I noticed men and women sitting on their bench or whatever piece of equipment and staring at their phones. And they continued to stare — like for a long time; like 5 minutes or more. Then, they snapped back to reality and continued their workout — until their next text (can you imagine waiting to use a piece of equipment while someone is sitting there, texting?).

I actually witness something similar at a restaurant where five women had gathered for a group dinner. They were talking and laughing until… they weren’t. I looked over and noticed each of them was on their respective phone, fully engrossed on whatever was on their screens. They were all at dinner together, but they also weren’t. Sad, I thought, for them. But lesson learned for me.

When I work out at home, my phone is nearby. Calls come in, texts arrive, and alerts ding. And I get distracted. Then I remember something pseudo-important and I stop my workout to write it down or search it quickly online. The next thing I know, my 45-minute workout is pushing 90 minutes.

I am exercising, but the quality of my workout is sub-par. I berate myself and vow never to let that happen again (until next time).

Just like I prepare for mid-day cravings by ensuring I have healthy snacks at the ready, I needed to prepare myself for an effective workout by ensuring I would not have any interruptions or distractions.

My goal: FOCUS. That’s it; I just needed to be mindful and present for an hour; that was it. Easy peasy. I did try to make FOCUS an acronym like Forget Other Crap Unless Significant, but thought it best to stick with just FOCUS.

I was determined to have some quality “me” time. I would focus on the task at hand and save the distractions for later. And you know what? It worked. And it made a difference in the quality of my workout.

I recall doing this when my kids were young. When I felt a tug and looked down and saw one of my boys looking up at me, excitedly, with something urgent he needed to tell me, I would stop what I was doing and kneel down so we were eye-to-eye (that was critical) and I gave him my all; my focus. And it made a difference; a difference in the quality of our time together.

Give yourself that quality; that difference; that focus — even if it’s just you and the gym — or the trail, or the pool, or the track. It’s quality time — just for the two of you.

If you enjoyed reading this, then please visit where you can find more fitness information, download my workout e-book, listen to my latest podcast on Spotify, and check out the Healthy Recipe page.

Have a fitness question? Send them to me, Your Personal Trainer, at and write ‘Ramona Sentinel’ in the subject line.

Leave a Comment