How to Sweat With Soul

To stick with exercise, connect with your body and soul.

By SHARE

When it comes to fitness, if your routine is just about sets and reps, you can get lost in an emotionless rut and will find it harder to stay fit; you will just be sweating – without passion. 

To make fitness a real part of your life, you need to make a connection that requires both your body AND soul. Because if it connects with you emotionally and spiritually, you will do it with passion, you will do it more often and it will change your life ... every day.

Lost the Soul

Have you lost some of your passion, some of your fire? Between family and work obligations, do you find it hard to see yourself as the individual you are? Has doing things out of duty turned your fitness routine into a "duty," leaving you exhausted instead of energized after a workout?

It's time to make a deeper connection. I always say "getting fit is hard ... staying fit is harder." To stay fit, you have to have a real connection to what your body is doing, or you won't stick to it. It's not enough to "just work out" if you want to make this a part of your life for the long haul. Today, I want you to figure out what your soul is attracted to when it comes to fitness.

[Read: The Secret to Sticking With Exercise.]

The type of connection and attraction I'm talking about is like falling in love – it will energize you, and you will feel part of it, invested. That's the kind of passion you can create for fitness – going beyond the workout to have an experience.

Beyond the Sweat

You can find exercise routines anywhere: from gyms and the Internet to the best and worst personal trainer. And when you get fixed on doing the same sets and reps, it's easy to lose the emotion and the experience. So how do you go beyond that? Movement. Music. Mantra.

When I integrate the right movement, music and mantra, I have a spiritual experience. It frees me from my problems, my stress, my pain. It's my salvation – it's my "medicine." You can tell because my head will be bowed, and my fist will be pumping.

The music hits me emotionally, I get goose bumps and my body has to move. The movement gives me a physical outlet for the emotion pouring out of me and connects my body with my mind. Then, finally, the mantra or the message starts to echo inside of me – it inspires me, it gives me something to reach for and brings clarity to why I am doing this.

I can feel the ascension begin and the connection between my body, mind and soul.

One of my passions is Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that incorporates fluid movements, beautiful music and inspiring meanings and mantras. There is so much to Capoeira beyond the martial art – the unforgettable people and mentors, the Portuguese language, the Brazilian culture, the musical instruments, the singing. Capoeira goes beyond the sweat and feeds a part of my soul.

Another passion of mine is spinning. The right music matched with the physical act of climbing, cruising and everything in between creates an energy in the room that hits me in my gut and makes me feel alive. These feelings create the mantras and messages I give to my students – and myself. It's powerful, and it's changed my life.

[Read: Try These Out-of-the-Box Fitness Classes.]

You can't get a fitness "experience" on a piece of paper. It's about being vulnerable, digging deep and investing your mind, body and soul into what you're doing. It's the commitment that gives you more than you imagined. And the more you give, the more you get. 

How to Sweat with Soul

There are three things you'll need to sweat with soul: community, commitment and challenge. In Capoeira, these elements flow together like mixing paint for your canvas of life.

• The Community

The community that follows Capoeira is also committed to learning the three instruments: berimbau, atabaque drum and pandeiro tambourine. We know the corridos folk songs, we share the Portuguese language, and we understand the history of Capoeira from slavery to the resurrection of the art in the 1950's.

• The Commitment

I am committed to the Brazilian culture, which is an important piece of Capoeira. I travel to Brazil and other countries where Capoeira is popular because it helps me stay invested in the art, and that feeds my passion. It's a part of who I am, so I have to stay committed to being a part of what it is.

• The Challenge

I stay motivated by constantly recognizing and experiencing my own limitations as well as seeing others' amazing talents. I still have much to learn, and this challenge keeps me motivated. Capoeira is a gift that keeps me striving to be better in many areas of my life.

We all need a little soul in our fitness and in our lives. For you, maybe it's a martial art, meditation, yoga, Zumba or even CrossFit. But whatever it is, don't let your fitness life go on without soul. Once you find it, don't let it go. Because the more you feed your soul, the better you will treat your body ... and the happier and more fulfilling a life you will lead.

Your thoughts...What's your fitness PASSION?

[See: 10 Excuses for Not Exercising and Why They Won't Fly.]

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Well known for his work as a trainer on NBC's The Biggest Loser, Brett Hoebel is one of New York and Los Angeles' most popular fitness and nutrition experts. In addition to his certifications in nutrition, yoga and functional training, Hoebel was trained in martial arts (Capoeira and Muay Thai kickboxing) and has a pre-med, neuroscience background. He is the founder of Hoebel Fitness, a body-mind approach dedicated to inspiring healthy living, as well as the creator of in-home lifestyle-fitness programs RevAbs, reVamp, and his new 20 Minute Body program to debut in 2014. Hoebel believes in "fitness from within," acknowledging that a healthy life starts by changing yourself from the inside out.