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Exercise motivation, (how to get some)

Updated: Nov 24, 2022


exercise motivation

Most people have difficulty getting going, especially when it comes to health and fitness. I personally have big issues when it comes to going for a run. I'm not good at running, and I don't like it; let's leave it there.

During the first lockdown, I, like many of us, had not a lot to do. Do we all remember the weather of April and May 2020? The confusion of a pandemic lockdown, mixed with the weather we can usually only dream of. So I'm looking out at the sunshine, and I decide that a 10k run is a really great idea.

Then I think about it a little more; I download some music to my phone, prepare my playlist, set up "map my run" to know how far I went, how fast etc. Then I wonder if I should eat something? Which runners will I wear?, should I do my weights first today?, maybe I'll run tomorrow? Maybe I should find my heart rate strap, and then I'll have all the data I'll ever need! Finally, I might even watch a motivational video.

The truth is, I've now been faffing around the house for about 55 minutes, which is about how long my run was going to take. In the end, I trudge out the gate, start to run slowly; I get better about 5 minutes in, I'm finished in less than an hour, and I'm happier for it in the end.

This experience gets me thinking about my clients. I've been training people 1-1 for about 17 years. Sometimes they don't feel like training. I know this not because I'm a great communicator, and I can read their every expression. I know this because they say to me, "this is the LAST place I want to be right now", or something to that effect with a lot more swearing. Of course, by the end of the session, they're usually singing a different tune, and they are glad they came.

So what am I rambling on about?

I'm rambling about motivation and how it works.

This is how most people think it works:


This might work in the very short term, but it is NOT how it works long term.

How it really works is:


I have worked for 17+ years in gyms with other trainers as a trainer. I generally try to train six days a week. That's about 45 min of weights x 6 times per week, every year, for 17 years, plus ten years previous when I wasn't a trainer.

So that's over 6000 hours of lifting weights (I think).

I would guess that one in every ten workouts has been awful; I REALLY didn't want to do it. I was tired, maybe hungover, lacking sleep, calories etc. And I knew I was going to hate it before I started. So by my calculation, that's 600 hours of doing something that I absolutely detested. That's a lot of hours!

But I did it anyway, and that's the key. I pulled my big boy pants on, and I started to work out. Then as the workout progressed, even if I wasn't enjoying it, I kept going and looking at the clock, saying, "30 minutes to go, 15 minutes to go". Like wading through treacle, I soldier on until the end, and in the end, even if I feel nothing else, I feel like I did my duty.

"Tomorrow will be better," I tell myself, and it usually is, because as I said earlier, action leads to motivation, not the other way around.

I'm not the only one this happens to, I've seen it happen to every trainer I ever worked with, but they always keep going. And that's really the main reason that they are stronger and leaner and more motivated than the average person.

(Don't get me wrong, when you work in health and fitness, there is pressure to be in shape, and you feel a duty to yourself and your clients to lead by example, Oh and did I mention, you actually work inside a gym!)

Let's go back to my sad 10K run during the lockdown. If I pulled my runners on, walked out the door, walked out the gate, and started running, I would have the same result without an hour of my life wasted on thinking and useless preparation.

If you're reading this now, maybe it has motivated you to get up and go. Just put your runners on, walk out the door and start to walk, or run, or whatever. Ironically, I'm suggesting that this motivation will lead to action, which might be the very short term.

There's no point in reading this a second time tomorrow. Tomorrow you need to employ action --> motivation because that's all that will work in the long term. So don't think about it. As Nike say, "Just do it", it's actually really good advice!

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