In over seventeen years in working in fitness, I have found the most common motivator for people to exercise is their appearance.
Whether 18 or 81 years of age, most people start exercising to either lose weight, trim the waist or banish the bingo wings. There seems to be a constant craving to have our bodies look better than they are right now.
Pressure from the media
Media influence has meant that as a society we tend to link exercising with aesthetic achievement. We are constantly exposed to images of the “perfect” body type and told what we should be aspiring to. ”If you want to look like the latest body-revealing celebrity, you need to exercise” is the message.
There is nothing wrong with that, regular exercise can indeed help all of us improve the way we look and if that brings commitment, it has to be a good thing.
Do you have a “Finite Game Mentality”?
Where this type of aesthetic motivation falls short is that this takes us to a “finite game mentality” where there is an end point with a win or a loss.
A perfect example would be an upcoming summer holiday where a target is set so you step up your healthy habits in pursuit of your goal.
The holiday arrives and if you don’t achieve your goal, you feel like a failure. If you do achieve your target, you soon let the reigns loose, the bad habits creep in and it seems like you’re back to square one again.
Switch to an “Infinite Game Mentality”
To ensure the best chances of keeping motivation high it may be best to switch to an “infinite game” mentality, where there is no end point and the goal is to simply keep playing and adjusting strategies as you develop as a person.
Maybe you could switch your motivations to exercise to things like making everyday activities easier, feeling stronger and fitter, the illness protection that exercise provides or just living a longer life.
I trained with international athletes for years with a finite game mentality where you would simply do everything it took to achieve your best performance. As I approach my 40th birthday, aside from the odd fitness challenge through the year, sporting success is less of a motivator now.
I have switched to an infinite game mentality. My primary motivation to exercise is now to simply keep my sanity!
Bring yourself back in the present
In life, sometimes anxiety can take hold as our thoughts run away with us. The pressures of life build. An hour to escape “real” life with a tough fitness session, where you get in the zone and challenge your limits can be all it takes to bring you back in the present and give your mind that reset it needs.
Many of our members are hard-working business professionals, busy committed parents or both. With many life pressures, they find those couple of hours of group personal training each week is dedicated time for themselves to banish the stresses of the week away, get fit and socialise. Leaving the studio on a high and ready to take on the world again. One member even called it her “sanity hour”.
Make exercise a priority for you this week. If for nothing else, do it for your sanity!