Eyes Up

“Eyes up!”  It’s one of the simplest, most effective, and multi-purpose cues that I can give someone as a coach in a larger group class when I need to make a quick correction.

If someone starts losing focus on their midline stability in a deadlift, “Eyes up!” can set in motion a chain of self-corrections starting with looking straight ahead instead of at the floor.

If someone is missing the rhythm of butterfly pull-ups because they are pulling their chin to the bar instead of past it, “Eyes up!” can remind them to keep their gaze up beyond the bar and then glide through to the proper arch position at the bottom.

And if someone is feeling sorry for themselves during a long, arduous workout, feeling alone in their misery, “Eyes up!” can re-enlighten them to the fact that there are others who have also taken on this tough task.  They have teammates to support them on this mission, and teammates that need their support too.

The opposite of “Eyes up” in this case might be “Eyes in”, as in “inside”.  And when we focus our mental energy on feeling what is happening to us, how our body is hurting and doesn’t seem to be performing as well as it did when we started, this dwelling on negative thoughts can stir up negative emotions.
Emotions like anger – “why the hell are we doing this?? This is so stupid!!”
Like doubt and shame – “I’m never going to finish this, and it’s going to be so embarrassing!”
It might even cause us to do things that would break trust with our teammates – “I bet no one would notice if I just skipped some reps here so I can keep up…”

Focusing on ourselves, and feeling sorry for ourselves, which creates negative mental and emotional energy, can then drain our physical energy further.  If we believe that we are not doing well, and keep reinforcing that belief with negative mental chatter, that will become our reality.

Luckily, the opposite is true!  I learned long ago through extremely difficult team training that if you take your focus off of yourself, and use the mantra “Eyes up!” to instead focus on your teammates, your mental disposition can change immediately.  It’s very hard to have a negative mindset when you’re encouraging someone else.  You’re being positive FOR THEM, and it changes your emotional outlook as well.
“We’ve got this, guys!” – this breeds hope.
“You’re crushing it, keep it up!” – if you really mean it, you’re showing pride in your teammate.
“Stay with me, let’s do the next 20 reps together.” – you are leading by example.

And guess what – just as sinking your focus into your physical pain can drive your emotional state into a dark place, feeling a sense of pride and encouragement and positive leadership can also upgrade your physical capacity.
“Sure, I’m hurting, but it doesn’t matter, I’m going to keep going so that they keep going too.”  You will not be in such a stressed out state, and your body will follow suit – it will do what you tell it to do, versus the other way around.

Tomorrow on Veterans Day, we take on a tough task with CHAD1000X.  But even if you’re doing it in your garage, by yourself, you’re not alone.  Thousands are doing it with you, and they’re supporting you.  They’re proud of you for stepping up to the challenge.  But they need your support too.  “Eyes up!”