Brain/Body Balance at Crunch

Brain/Body Balance at Crunch

March 19, 2024

By Wendy Cope

We’ve all heard about the importance of mind-body connection, and maybe we’ve even experienced the positive effects of Pilates or yoga on our stress levels.  Crunch has taken the mind-body connection in a completely new direction to reintegrate the brain and bring more harmony into the body.

Exercises that cross the midline of the body help create and strengthen neural pathways in the brain, which helps with physical coordination by using both halves of the brain. Without regular exercise that crosses the midline of the body, the brain becomes less integrated and overworks itself for tasks that should occur naturally.

So what exercises count as midline crossing? Imagine a vertical line splitting the left side of the body from the right.  Anything that asks you to cross over creates more balance and coordination in your body and brain.  Here are some great exercises to use in your warmup before a weight-training session, a walk, or even in a midday work break.

women in group fitness class

Side bends. Reach your hands overhead, then use the bottom hand to hold onto the top wrist to cross over the midline.  Take 5 breaths, then return to the top and switch sides.  Repeat 3-4 times each side.  Side bending helps the brain balance, opens up the intercostal muscles of the ribcage to promote bigger breaths, and develops core strength.

Standing cross crawl.  Raise both hands overhead, and then lift the knee to hip height. Cross the opposite hand to tap the knee then raise the arm back overhead. Repeat the tap with the other knee.  Do this 15-20 times on each side.  By focusing on drawing the knee into the chest, the core tightens and the opposition work primes your brain for more complex activities.

Bicycles. With hands behind the head and thumbs at the temples, draw one knee towards the opposite elbow, then switch. Repeat 10-15 times each side.  Not only is this great for the brain, but it strengthens the core and improves balance.

Bird dog crunches.  On all fours, extend the opposite arm and leg.  Inhale to stretch the spine, then exhale, drawing the knee towards the elbow and the elbow to the knee. Repeat on the other side about 10-15 times per side. Again, this promotes core strength and balance and balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

What classes at Crunch promote brain/body balance?

Yoga Body Sculpt. In a yoga class, the focus on breathing while moving relaxes both the body and the mind. In a flow sequence-based class like Yoga Body Sculpt, learning new patterns helps create new neural pathways, creating better brain resilience. Twists not only help with digestion, but they also create more intense cross-body twists to get the brain balanced.  Balancing exercises, especially standing on one leg, have that same brain-balancing effect. Want to ramp up the effects?  Try closing your eyes during a balance for a whole new challenge!

women in group fitness class

Joint Ventures. One of the best ways to loosen up the joints and create more mobility in the muscles is using that cross pattern.  In this class, you’ll untwist the upper body, loosen the lower, and then find the flow to get your body and brain moving with better coordination and ease.

Absolution.  You’ll notice that many brain and body balance exercises naturally engage the core.  Rotation movements in Absolution activate both hemispheres of the brain and shred the oblique muscles at the same time!

Hot Mobility. Coming in the fall for our Hot Stuff studio, Hot Mobility adds rocking, knocking, and stirring patterns in between mobility work to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.  You’ll not only get the detoxifying effects of the infrared heat, but you’ll work cross-body mobility and calm the nervous system all at the same time!

Adding these kinds of movement patterns to your everyday exercise routine can really make a difference in not only the way your body looks and feels but in the way your mind functions. 

Wendy Cope is the Southeast Regional Group Fitness Manager at Crunch Fitness.

Crunch’s group fitness classes and personal trainers promote a culture of fun with no judgments. It is an environment built for all types of individuals with various goals. Find a Crunch gym near you to try our free trial membership, or join Crunch now.

Explore More Articles