Hiie Saumaa in Alternative and Complementary Therapies

" “No pain no gain” is a widespread approach in strength training classes and private training. Peeking into physical conditioning classes at my neighborhood gym on the Upper West Side in New York City, I would hear loud music with an unchangeable beat and trainers shouting out numbers for remaining repetitions. I would see participants who looked like they had to execute these movements. In the room with cardio machines, free weights, and gym equipment, for individual practice or sessions with private trainers, I would see people grunting, holding their breath, pushing themselves to lift heavier and heavier weights. I saw bodies rowing, running, or cycling on the machines, but mentally, these people seemed elsewhere: reading books, newspapers, text messages, or watching news or TV series."

Hiie Saumaa recently published “Somatic Strength Training: An Alternative to “No Pain No Gain” ” in the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies. In this piece she discusses the importance of employing a somatic, or mindful, approach to strength training and working with the muscles. The word “somatic” often comes up when discussing physical awareness methods and mind-body dance arts, but seldom in relation to conditioning and gym workouts, making this is a novel approach. This work was written while Hiie was in residence at the Institute.

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