On the surface this seems like an easy question to answer but when we dig deep down and try to articulate it to other people it is often hard to find the words.
This question was posed to me by a client and very good friend regarding my contest prep and with an eye on how she could take this motivation into her personal fitness journey.
I explained that there are many things that motivate me. First and foremost the idea of pushing myself and working extremely hard over multiple weeks and months is exciting and motivating and it’s encouraging to see the changes in your body on a weekly basis. Behind that there is an element of motivation for my profession. Not everyone will get into the position I will push myself into and having that knowledge and skill set can be valuable to some people wishing to do the same. And finally people who I look up to in the fitness industry like Nick Cheadle, Jamie Alderton, Steve Cook and Jakub Dvoracek are in the types of position that I’d like to be in in the fitness industry in years to come.
Now how do those answers relate to any other person seeking motivation? Because I’m sure every single person in the gym I work in has their own thoughts and feelings behind what drives them forward in their fitness journey.
My client said that at first she would see celebrities on the TV and think “wow, they look good, I’m not going to smash this pizza tonight” or words to that effect! While this might work to motivate someone to stay on track for that evening or maybe even that week but it is probably not the motivation deep down inside that will really get you through the harder days on any given fitness journey.
You see there are two types of motivation, Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation. While both are valid and both will help push you to reach your goal, I believe one is more powerful than the other and for long term success; Intrinsic motivation must be pinpointed and focused on.
Referring back to myself, the feeling of pushing myself and that feeling of pride and achievement when I step on stage is my intrinsic motivation, this is what I can close my eyes and vision when I’m really thinking about cleaning out the local Krispy Kreme store. Thinking about the potential awards I could win or prestige I’d gain is more of an extrinsic factor, I’m performing a behavior or habit to earn the reward. Both have their merit but I find that internal drive far more powerful.
Examples of Extrinsic Motivation:
Doing your homework to avoid punishment
Competing in a competition to earn a medal
Staying to do overtime to get a pay rise
Examples of Intrinsic Motivation:
Playing football because you love the sport and teamwork
Solving a Sudoku puzzle because you find the challenge enjoyable
Designing artwork to master the craft.
Extrinsic motivation can be a great way to get started, particularly with fitness. Knowing that showing up and kicking butt in your workout will ‘reward’ you with some kind of change in your body is a great way to get you in the gym and working out but studies show that this type of behavior quickly wears thin. Extrinsic motivation should be used to help someone acquire a new skill or behavior after which, intrinsic motivation should be found and will begin to take over. Extrinsic motivation should be avoided when it can make a fun activity begin to seem like work instead of play.
So how can we put these to use? Find your “WHY?”
If you can tell me ‘why’ you want to lose 5 kilos, or why you want to add an inch to your biceps I’ll be able to help you find all the motivation you may ever need to pursue your goal with such ferocity that people will start to question if you’re even sane!
If you’ve made it this far I’d love you to take a piece of paper or open your phone and write down what is motivating you in your fitness journey right now. Is it intrinsic or extrinsic?
If you need help finding your “WHY?” drop me an Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see what makes you tick!
If you have any other comments or questions drop them down below!