What is motivation?
In fitness, it’s a common enemy for most beginners and the strongest ally for advanced athletes. Here is what you should do if you are interested in finding your motivation.
It is also the key to any success story and the best part is that anyone can unlock it! Anyone who has worked with a personal trainer before knows that we love to set goals and that’s because goals are the most basic, yet sometimes most powerful form of motivation. Goals provide us with reasons to exercise and they can be as simple as, “I want to feel healthier,” or “I want to jump higher”. For some people, just the thought of a simple goal can be enough influence to drive those people to achieve it. However, others may require other influences to help them reach their goals, such as social fitness groups, personal instruction, private training, etc…
Finding my motivation
For myself, I utilize my competitive drive as motivation to achieve my goals and seek out friendly competition to access it.
My background as a collegiate gymnast oriented me around shared team goals and in most cases 3 or 4 other guys were pushing to reach those same goals before I did. The most relevant example would be the goal of making an event lineup at the next competition. Only 5 guys get to compete per event and 9 guys are fighting for a spot. Such a friendly competitive culture drove me to work hard and earn each objective, which can also be reproduced in a gym setting by exercising with a friend with similar goals. If you are similar to me, go find a workout buddy and set common goals with each other as a friendly wager. If not, there are other forms of motivation too.
Traditionally, it is a personal trainer’s responsibility to inspire clients and figure out what will motivate them further and further.
What drives you?
Aside from goals, the most common answer I hear when asking clients, “what drives you?” is accountability; meaning they need someone to make sure they exercise. I’ve seen medical professionals and health coaches hire personal trainers for the sole purpose of accountability even though they are familiar with exercising. They don’t want to waste the money they spent or don’t want to disappoint their trainers by missing appointments.
Another common answer has been curiosity, as in they enjoyed learning and trying new exercise modalities. For curious people, it can be about learning how to play new sports or learning how to use kettlebells one week and medicine balls the next.
Socialization is also a common motivational drive for people who play in recreational sports leagues or attend fitness classes together with the mindset that working out is time spent with friends.
In my opinion, the best form of motivation that we should all strive for is enjoyment because it’s a form of intrinsic motivation (which we will dig into deeper in a later blog) that drives us to do things simply because we like to. Just think about it, if we worked on creating good habits (such as exercising) with the idea of enjoyment in mind, then we’d all be healthier and happier at the same time right?
If you’re interested in finding your motivation to exercise, then try these 4 simple steps:
Step 1: Start with a Goal
Simple goals such as “I want to lose weight” are great for giving us direction. However, SMART goals are the key to outlining the process. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Think about what you want to accomplish? How to measure your progress? How easy or hard it will be to accomplish it? Why do you want to accomplish it? And when will you accomplish it?
A SMART goal may look like “I want to lose 10 lbs in 12 weeks so I can look fit”.
Step 2: Create a Training Plan
Now that you have an outline of a plan, dig deeper into the process of the plan. Think about: how many days a week will you commit to working out? How long will you work out for each day? What kind of exercise will you do each day? How intense will your workout be each day?
Changes to the plan may happen, but make sure to set process goals for each workout or each week. That will help to attain the original SMART goal.
Step 3: Implement Training Plan
Go have some fun and keep an open mind as you follow the training plan. Be conscious and mindful of thoughts and feelings as well.
Step 4: Assess Motivational Drives
After each workout, think about what you liked and disliked about it. Did you enjoy the exercise equipment? Or the exercises themselves? Maybe the music you listened to? Perhaps the environment of the gym? Or even the people you worked out with?
Make a list of the things you liked and disliked and alter the training plan accordingly. Maybe you enjoyed running so you keep that but you didn’t enjoy being indoors so you run outside. Don’t be afraid to try new environments, meet new people, and explore other modalities of exercise that you think you might enjoy!