• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Program works out brain as well as body

January 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Sharpen your mind, sculpt your body in just 10 minutes a day? That's the approach one fitness expert is taking, claiming his clients get leaner bodies along with a brain boost."You can train the brain from left to right, from front to back, forcing the brain to think. The third one is from your senses," said Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, author of "Super Body, Super Brain."

Frustrated trainer Gonzalez-Wallace had bored, unproductive clients -- a bad combination. So he created a multi-tasking workout called "Super Body, Super Brain" that kicked up mind and muscle intensity.

"When I started seeing very important changes in my clients' attitude, but also physically I started seeing how they were getting toned very fast," said Gonzalez-Wallace.

The concept is known as "muscle confusion." It changes a workout to increase difficulty through things like tempo, coordination and different mode of exercise.

The concept is not new, but Gonzalez-Wallace took it further. The "brain" component made his clients more alert, more excited, and had better retention of their workouts.

"So I went to a neurobiologist and a neuroscientist and I presented my program," said Gonzalez-Wallace. "They said this exercise is phenomenal and you know why? Is because you are forcing the brain to plan and organize movements constantly. That happens when you have two muscles moving with an intention."

Just like brain-teaser exercises, learning movement stimulates the brain as well and appears to increase neurons and activity in different areas of the brain. It also sharpens sensory skills as portions of the program are done with eyes closed.

"I've done bicep curls before, but closing your eyes, it made it so much harder," said Brentwood resident Rebecca Zamolo. "I had to work my core more, I felt like I had to stabilize my ankle more."

"When you close your eyes you're literally seeing with your brain," said Gonzalez-Williams. "Your brain has to visualize, creating new memories saying, 'What is going on out there?'"

With names like the Owl, the Eagle and the Hawk, he creates exercise circuits that improve things like balance, coordination and strength in as little as 10 minutes a day

Although those 10 are supposed to be challenging, and if you add 10 more later in the day and 10 after that, all the better.

Begin with a mind-body wakeup call: Choose one of four programs, and stay at one level for four weeks, then progress on. End result?

"Increasing lean muscle, reducing body fat, developing powerful core," said Gonzalez-Williams. "But also getting that incredible amount energy you're going to be seeing by doing these exercises."