With each passing year, or sometimes day, a new craze comes along that many of us try to ignore before we inevitably give up and become immersed in its glory. Our newest craze is called Wordle. For those who are unfamiliar, Wordle is a game that gives the player six chances to guess a five-letter word, while using different color blocks as hints. It was created by a man named Josh Wardle and released in October 2021, before ultimately being bought by The New York Times earlier this year.
So, why in a fitness related post, am I talking about Wordle? Let’s talk more about it.
Games like Wordle help people create healthy mental habits. Our brains, like our bodies, can fall into the category of “move it or lose it”, meaning, the more we keep the brain moving, the sharper it will be. Wordle, and other word games, help decrease the decline in the brain as we age, and also provides us with problem-solving skills, flexibility, and attention, amongst other things.
In a similar capacity, people come to the gym to push to increase their physical capacities to help reach their goals. Those goals may vary from becoming a pro Crossfit Games Athlete, to being able to pick up a grandchild. However, at the end of the day, everyone is getting the same benefits from being in the gym. Just like our brains, when we stop moving our bodies, we lose the ability to move our bodies.
By combining physical fitness with a focus on mental wellbeing, we are building a a well-rounded athlete.
Another benefit of Wordle is socialization. You’ve probably seen posts from your friends on social media sharing their Wordle results, and people liking or commenting with their own. This socialization can not only aid in our cognitive health, but in a time when negativity is running rampant, it gives us a positive outlook and helps to reestablish some common ground amongst out peers.
Sharing your Wordle scores on Facebook and engaging in conversation about them is similar, if not the same, as sharing your workout scores and discussing the worst parts, how hard it was, and that you cannot wait to do it all over again tomorrow. By creating an environment in our facilities that allows athletes to share their feelings, concerns, and successes, we are encouraging more comradery within our community. As they say, “those who suffer together, stay together”.
So, what can we, as fitness professionals, do to help our clients not only reach their physical goals, but also help improve their mental health?
Some of the best trainers, coaches, and gym owners strive to make the hour athletes spend in the gym the ”best hour of the day”. They work to provide top coaching, relationship building, quality equipment, and good programming to try to hit and maintain this goal.
By adding a warm up game, we can incorporate all those things into the hour, and allow our athletes to let that inner-child out.
Now, are we going to start the class everyday with a heated game of Monopoly? No, that would be silly as it would not lead to any physical related benefit to the athlete. We need games that provide both a physical reason, say a warm up movement, a cognitive reason, and a social reason.
Everyone knows Tic-Tac-Toe, or at least the paper version. In this physical version, we can get the mind, the body, and the community coming together for one common goal.
To begin, place a “gameboard” on the ground, large enough for everyone to utilize. This can be done by using Abmats, PVC Pipes, or large rings to create the spaces to place the markers. Different colored bands or towels work well for the markers and are easy for the athletes to place in a space.
Athletes break into two teams, and run, skip, or bear crawl down to the board to place their markers. Athletes in line may be required to hold a squat or a hollow rock, or a movement more closely related to that day’s workout. Once one team has created a line of three, they have won!
This game not only gets athletes moving physically, but does require a lot of thought and socialization by way of team help.
A fan favorite, Rowling is a great way to get the blood flowing and the mind engaged. Athletes can faceoff head to head in this rowing/bowling mash up. With the goal typically at the 100 meter mark, each athlete gets 10 chances to hit that mark exactly, or face a burpee penalty for every meter over or under. If you hit perfectly in the 10th frame, add another frame, just like in real bowling. Athletes add up their score at the end. For every frame rowed perfectly to 100, the athlete can use that to negate their worst scored frame. The lowest score wins!
While this seems purely physical, the mental recognition of effort plus when to stop pull definitely gets the brain a great workout as well.
3. Make Your Own Wordle
Why not create your own Wordle! Pick a new word everyday and have everyone at the whiteboard briefing give an attempt. To add a physical approach, athletes can hold a plank, a one-foot balance, or a hang from the pull up bar until the word is found. Challenge all your classes to this, maybe even keep a running tally as a little competition throughout the gym.
Again, not only does this help warm the body, it helps prime the brain and helps create mentally and physically stronger athlete. Plus, it is a great way to bring the class together and break the ice, especially if there are new members present.
While athletes think of the gym as a place for physical fitness, we can help them improve on all aspects of life, keep them engaged, and keep them coming back for more.