Intuitive Movement 101: An Introduction

What is Intuitive Movement?

Intuitive movement is a holistic approach to fitness that empowers you to listen to your body’s signals and exercise in a way that feels nourishing and joyful. It’s about shifting from rigid workout routines and external expectations to a mindful, self-directed approach. Instead of tracking workouts per week or calories burned, intuitive movement invites you to focus on how exercise makes you feel, both mentally and physically. It’s a path to rekindling a positive relationship with movement, free from guilt or punishment.

For instance, it’s choosing a brisk walk in the sunshine because it feels refreshing, not because you need to reach a certain number of steps. It’s doing yoga when your muscles are tight because it provides relief and relaxation, not because it’s the ‘official’ workout for the day. Intuitive movement is about dancing in your living room because the music moves your soul, not because it’s on your workout schedule. It’s letting go of strict exercise rules and finding freedom in moving your body in ways that make you happy, while also honoring rest when that’s what your body truly desires.

How to get Started with Intuitive Movement?

Practicing intuitive movement might feel uncomfortable and overwhelming as it is different from what you have done before. Here are three questions that someone who wants to start practicing intuitive movement can ask themselves daily. Check them out below or as part of my 5-day Intuitive Movement Challenge.

“How Does My Body Feel Today?”

This question encourages awareness of physical sensations, such as muscle soreness, energy levels, and any areas of tension or discomfort. It sets the stage for choosing movement that aligns with your body’s current state.

“What Type of Movement Would Bring Me Joy?”

Instead of following a rigid exercise routine, ask yourself what type of movement sounds enjoyable and fulfilling on that particular day. It could be dancing, a leisurely walk, a challenging workout, or even restorative yoga. Prioritizing joy makes movement sustainable and more fun.

“What Are My Intentions for Today’s Movement?”

Consider why you want to move your body. Are you seeking stress relief, improved flexibility, or a mood boost? Identifying your intentions helps you select movement practices that align with your goals and emotional needs.

These questions promote a mindful and holistic approach to movement. The answers allow you to nurture a positive relationship with your body and fitness that is based on self-care, enjoyment, and responsiveness to your body’s unique signals. As you learn to tune in with your body, the practice of intuitive movement will become much more natural.

For something a bit more structured, check out the book Train Happy Journal (paid link). Inside you will find interactive exercises and journal prompts to help you understand your current relationship with fitness and guidance toward a successful intuitive movement journey.

Who Intuitive Movement is for

Intuitive movement is a holistic approach to fitness that can benefit a wide range of individuals. It may be particularly valuable for those who resonate with the following characteristics:

Body Dissatisfaction

Intuitive movement is beneficial for individuals who struggle with body image concerns or have experienced negative emotions related to exercise, such as guilt, shame, or anxiety. It can help them shift their focus from appearance-driven goals to holistic well-being.

Exercise Burnout

People who have experienced exercise burnout or have a history of compulsive or excessive exercise may find intuitive movement a refreshing alternative.

Past Dieting or Restrictive Eating

Those who have a history of restrictive diets, yo-yo dieting, or disordered eating patterns can benefit from intuitive movement as it promotes a healthier relationship with food and exercise, detached from weight loss goals.

Stress and Overwhelm

Individuals dealing with high levels of stress, whether from work, family, or other life factors, can use intuitive movement as a tool for stress relief and emotional regulation. It encourages movement as a form of self-care.

Busy Lifestyles

Intuitive movement is adaptable to various schedules and fitness levels, making it suitable for busy professionals, parents, and anyone with limited time for structured workouts.

A Desire for Sustainable Fitness

Intuitive movement encourages a sustainable and lifelong approach to fitness. It is suitable for individuals who want to maintain their health and fitness throughout different life stages. It aligns with the idea that fitness should support a fulfilling and balanced life.

It’s important to note that intuitive movement is a flexible and inclusive approach to fitness. It can be adapted to a wide range of fitness goals and preferences. Whether someone is an athlete looking to improve performance, a busy parent seeking stress relief, or someone recovering from a history of disordered eating, intuitive movement principles can be applied to promote a healthier and more positive relationship with exercise.

The Role of a Personal Trainer

Hiring a personal trainer who specializes in intuitive movement can play a pivotal role in helping you implement this new approach. Even though trainers provide accountability and structure, here are a few ways a trainer might integrate intuitive movement and mindfulness into their training sessions with you:

Assessment and Goal Setting

Begin by conducting a comprehensive assessment that includes your physical capabilities, health history, and fitness goals. Additionally, it’s important to inquire about past experiences with exercise and any negative associations you may have.

Active Listening

Actively listen to your needs, preferences, and concerns. A trainer should create a safe space that encourages open communication. You should feel safe talking about your body, emotions, and any discomfort or pain you may experience during exercise.

Empower Choice

Intuitive movement is all about exploring a variety of exercise options and modalities, allowing you to choose activities that align with your interests and current energy levels. This empowers you to take ownership of your fitness journey.

Body Awareness

Trainers are responsible for helping you develop greater body awareness by encouraging you to tune into physical sensations during workouts. It is important you feel encouraged to listen to cues like fatigue and discomfort, so they can adjust your workouts accordingly. Moreover, it is fundamental to understand what muscles you should feel working with each movement.

Celebrate Progress

Celebrate achievements beyond weight loss or physical appearance. Acknowledge and celebrate improvements in strength, flexibility, endurance, and confidence.

Modify and Adapt

An experienced trainer will be flexible in modifying workouts on the spot based on how you are feeling that day.

Long-Term Mindset

Encourage adopting a long-term mindset when it comes to fitness and health. Emphasize that intuitive movement is about sustainable, lifelong habits rather than quick fixes.

By incorporating these principles, a personal trainer can help you build a positive and intuitive relationship with exercise. This approach not only supports physical health but also fosters mental and emotional well-being, ultimately leading to a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. Not all trainers are familiar with intuitive movement, in fact, most of them are not. If you think it might be the right approach for you, make sure you find a personal trainer who is educated and informed. Ask them specifically how they will incorporate intuitive movement principles into your work together while balancing the structure and accountability you need to reach your health goals.

Did you love reading about intuitive movement? Check out my blog post: The Power of Intuitive Eating.