Developing Fitness Motivation
One of the most common misconceptions about ‘fit’ people is that they are motivated to exercise all of the time. The truth is somewhat different. Like anyone, fit people also have days where they don’t want to train. Days when they’re tired, sore, or busy.
So what’s the difference in the motivation levels between the fit person and the unfit person?
Not a lot, in reality.
The fit person just does it anyway. They may not want to train, but they do it anyway. It’s part of their identity and as a result they’ll exercise even if they don’t feel like it. There’s a bigger goal present – the feeling of being fit. They feeling of being strong. The knowing that you’re doing something good for yourself and your body.
Exercise is supposed to add to your life, not take away from it.
The Fitness Motivation Myth
You don’t have to be motivated to do something. Think about work – how often are you truly motivated to go into work? Even if you like your job, there’ll be days when you just don’t fancy it. Does that stop you going to work? No. You show up anyway.
If you’re waiting for the days when you feel motivated to go to the gym, you’ll be waiting a very long time.
Thanks to the way our bodies work and are designed, an exercise regime of some form should be a cornerstone of life. Movement is good for our body – it strengthens it, repairs it and keeps it healthy. With that in mind, exercises should be a lifestyle, not a trend.
Unfortunately your body is not like a bank – you can’t train hard for a while, ‘saving up’ fitness, then not train for months/years and get by on your reserves.
You have to keep at it.
In order to develop some serious fitness motivation, you need to stop thinking about exercise as a temporary thing. Something you do when your health deteriorates so much that you need to get to the gym as a state of emergency. Take control of your body and mind and it’ll look after you in the long term.
What’s the best cure for ill health? Preventing it from happening in the first place…
Building Fitness Motivation
Start by reframing exercise. It’s no longer something you ‘sort of’ do. It’s something you do weekly.
Make the gym part of your identity. If you identify as a fit person, as someone who trains, then you’re more likely to turn up and do the work. You’re likely to exercise even on the days you don’t fancy it.
Remember this though – be realistic. Nobody said you should get there 7 days per week. If you need to, start with twice per week. Just build a habit that you can stick to.
Ideally, I like people to exercise 4-5 days per week. These aren’t 4-5 long workouts, they’re short, punchy and to the point workouts. You don’t get paid overtime when it comes to training.
Do what you need to, then get out.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t train in the gym – you can train at home. There are plenty of workouts that you can do from home, so your excuses are limited. The key is to get some kind of movement into your daily routine – even if it’s as simple as a 20 minute walk when you get home from work, just don’t be stationary every day.
How Can I Develop Long Term Fitness Motivation?
Long term fitness motivation is the kind that gets you into the gym even when there isn’t a big event on the horizon. Many people exercise for a holiday or their wedding, but as soon as that’s over they revert to type. What we’re trying to build is the kind of motivation that lasts beyond events like those.
Start by setting realistic aims and goals. You don’t need to start with a fitness model physique in mind. Instead, start with consistency.
Show up. Do the work.
Make that your first priority.
At the start, showing up is far more important than anything else. Make it an ingrained behaviour. Before you concern yourself with drastic dietary changes, sets and reps, just worry about getting to the gym.
I find it helps if I’m monitoring my activity and trying to hit a target.
I use a heart rate monitor which monitors my activity, so I’m motivated to hit a target every day. If you think it’d work for you, give it a try.
It’s also a good idea to join some kind of class or group. You can sometimes outsource your fitness motivation – on the days when you aren’t feeling it, the other people in the class or club can help build you up! That can be an incredibly powerful tool for helping build your fitness motivation!
When you master consistency, the changes you’ll see and feel in your body take care of the motivation for you.
At that point, it’s become a part of your identity and your fitness motivation takes care of itself. You are now a ‘fit’ person and not training and exercising goes against your identity.