Motivation can be elusive even for the most disciplined and driven of us. It ebbs and flows through different phases of our lives . . . as our goals change . . . as we change. As a coach and trainer, motivating my clients is one of the most important aspects of my role in their fitness development. I have often thought (and said so) that they are paying me more to motivate them than they are for my strength and conditioning expertise! And I know many of them would agree.
For many people, it can be particularly difficult to muster motivation for health- and fitness-related goals, and I am no exception. Over the years I have faltered many times in my own exercise programs. But I always come back, utilizing several of the ideas below to get started again. Next time you are feeling unmotivated, try one or more of these techniques:
Make a commitment to someone else. It will be tougher to let down someone else down than to let yourself down (they don’t even necessarily have to know about it). I am always impressed when I hear about out-of-shape parents making significant changes to get healthier for the sake of their children. Or someone who lost his or her parent or other loved one to poor health and realized they were heading down the same road . . .those are powerful motivators!
Make yourself accountable. For example, my clients know that I am in the gym waiting for them at a pre-determined time. They are accountable to me for a number of reasons, and so they show up. If accountability wasn’t such a great motivator, there would be a lot less trainers in business!
Find support. This could manifest in a number of ways . . . finding a workout buddy, hiring a trainer, posting your progress on social media, participating in a team sport or group workout where you have to show up, or joining a challenge at your gym or in an online group.
Lay money on the line. Often this works much better by hiring a trainer than it does signing up for a gym membership. (We’ve all let gym membership fees hit our credit cards month after month but yet never get to the gym.) But my clients know that if they don’t arrive for a workout, my 24-hour cancellation policy will kick in, and they will lose good money with nothing to show for it. What a waste if you don’t show up just because you don’t feel like it!
Set a start date. I use this trick often when Mondays roll around. I love the idea of a clean slate. To me, Monday is a day of promise and new energy for the day, week, month, year ahead. Every Monday, it feels effortless to leave disappointment in the past and see the possibilities of the future. I always start a new exercise program on a Monday.
Don’t overlook the power of music. Put on that one artist, genre, playlist, station or channel that never fails to fire you up. Then get moving!
Last but not least, motivate yourself with pure will power. Feeling like doing something and doing it are two totally different things. In my life, it took me a long time to understand that most of the time, I have a choice to act. I may not feel like it. I may not want to. Sometimes, every fiber of my being is rebelling. But if I choose to do it, I always feel better when I get it done. Always!
You got this! Happy motivating!
— By Pritam Potts
Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength coach. After 16+ years of training athletes and clients of all ages as co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. She writes about health & fitness, grief & loss, love & life at www.advancedathlete.com.