A study in the UK tried to understand why people closed their eyes when they kissed or sneezed. Whilst it is a common belief that this is done automatically, this is not usually always the case. What they found is that the brain struggles to do more than one thing at once when the senses are engaged. An interesting theory and one that can definitely be applied to fitness and training in practice to get results quicker!
People close their eyes when they are intimate, because they are in essence doing things that require more than the eye sense and so are not 100% focusing on the tactile, touch sense. The theory is that when eyes are engaged, it weakens the response from the other senses. Therefore by closing your eyes when you kiss, it makes people more engaged, and you potentially, kiss more!
This applies to fitness, because it is found that when you close your eyes and disengage that visual sense; you train harder, better and for quicker results! PilatesAthlete founder Jason Clarke experienced this first hand when he had to train for a project that required him to get results quicker. He did all his training with his eyes closed and found it easier to focus on that particular exercise movement.
So for example if you are doing side raises for your shoulders (and you can use a lighter weight than usual for this), when you close your eyes, you find that your mind is thinking about the individual muscle, bringing more awareness to its movements. When you lift the weight, you can feel and sense what the muscle is doing. You can feel if the muscles working correctly, if you’re lifting the weight too high or low, and if your muscle hurts because you are doing this exercise incorrectly.
Often you’re just watching yourself in the mirror so are not even thinking about the exercise but simply executing the motion because it looks good. When you close your eyes, you work the muscle more effectively because you’re doing the full range of movement and you are also more likely to do the exercise correctly without causing yourself injury.
In some countries, people are actually opening up gyms where there is less visual distraction, i.e. no TVs, sound systems etc. so you can really focus your senses onto what you’re there for and the training at hand. There truly is logic to the theory because I’m sure you’ll all find that when you’re in the gym, in between a set of exercises, your mind starts to wander and you get distracted and end up looking around. It is normal for the visual queue to be working all the time. But if you simply shut it off, then the focus has to go to other areas of your body.
This content has been reproduced with the kind permission of Jason Clarke, founder of PilateAthlete, Movement Specialist and Artist. Jason has previously performed with the American Ballet Theatre and the widely acclaimed Bolshoi Ballet to name a few. In addition to teaching, Jason currently also hosts a regular wellness segment on RTHK.