I’ve been asking people about their workout motivation because the pandemic has changed so much about our lives, home fitness has become our new “normal” (at least for Los Angelenos), and I want to know how I can best help people stay healthy, fit, and sane at home.
I received a lot of different answers regarding motivation. Some serious, some half-joking, some ridiculous, and some probably making fun of me, but there’s some truth in all of them.
I wanted to share the answers with you.
Maybe they will help you a) get some motivation ideas or b) feel less alone in your fitness fears.
MOTIVATION POLL RESULTS
According to my unofficial polls, people are motivated to workout at home by:
- Workouts Online with Friends
- Accountability from a Coach
- Fear of Not Fitting a pair of Jeans (when we finally put them on again)
- Goals and Metrics
- Seeing Progress or Hitting a Goal Weight
- Not Feeling Out of Breath When You Run Up the Stairs Because You Forgot Your Mask Again
- Thinking of Pool Parties
- Watching Fights
- Feeling Good (or better)
- Cat Videos (I don’t know about this one, but hey, who am I to judge)
Not exactly a wildly profound or earth-shatteringly unique list of reasons, right? But they are all true for someone, and many of us have probably been motivated by at least a few of these before.
So, if we have so many logical reasons to exercise and know what helps keep us on track, why do we still avoid doing it?
WHEN KNOWING ISN’T ENOUGH
Look, fitness and sports have been my job for over 18 years, and to be 100% honest, I haven’t been working out as much as I would like over quarantine; I am no stranger to the right reasons yet ample procrastination game.
My usual excuse is, “But this is more important right now!” When “this” = work. (I realize the irony that my job is fitness, trust me.)
I know that on weeks I do workout 3-4 times, I feel pretty solid. I sleep well, my energy is better, my skin is clearer, I drink more water and less tequila, and I think my cats look at me with a hint of more admiration than aloofness.
But knowing things doesn’t do much for motivation.
Reasons, logic, and knowledge do very little to motivate you to exercise when other important factors aren’t applied.
WHAT DOES MOTIVATE EXERCISE?
According to real science *unlike my polls* three things help drastically with motivation:
- Public Commitment /Social Support
- Monetary Investment
THE MOTIVATING POWER OF SOCIAL
Public commitment and social support could almost be two different things, but I lumped them together because they rely on the same principle – people matter to us.
Do your family and friends lead active, healthy lives, or do they make comments like, “Screw the workout, let’s binge watch Netflix and drink beers all afternoon, I mean the world is ending anyway, right?”
If you surround yourself with people that have unhealthy habits, it’s going to be harder for you to get motivated to work out, and the inverse is also true. Have a bunch of fitness junkie friends, and you probably end up getting in a sweat sesh, so you don’t feel left out.
Public commitment to friends, family, and even strangers are especially strong because not only do we have to admit we didn’t do what we said we were going to do, but posting our fitness progress give us instant support and a lovely sense of accomplishment from all the clapping and heart emojis.
Monetary investment affects our conscience. Wasting money sucks, so if you invest in a bike, or some sweet kettlebells, or a personal trainer, you’re more likely to hit the weights or mat – but not if it’s the only step you take to ensure your success.
You still need action.
Action is my favorite motivator, and honestly, the ONLY one that ever really works for me.
JUST TAKE ACTION.
Any action that helps you put on workout clothes and start moving is a fair game.
It doesn’t matter if you work out for five minutes or fifty minutes. What matters is the action itself makes you motivated.
People think that athletes are motivated all the time. They are not. They are, however, disciplined. They have days where they don’t want to get out of bed, as we all do. The difference is that they have created fitness habits based on daily activities.
An athlete’s regular actions lead to their motivation. Eventually, even on shit days, they can coast through workouts on autopilot! Action being the key to success is the whole idea surrounding Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It.”
Feeling Unmotivated? Do something!
No matter how small the igniting action is, it will lead to more workouts.
Your igniting action doesn’t even have to be the exercise. It can be anything that helps you get to the workout or any single action that supports your health goals.
A small action could be blocking off time in your calendar to train (assuming you don’t ignore it and keep working like me).
Maybe it’s calling a friend who is supportive of your goals, or doing laundry because you’re out of workout clothes, or taking the workout outside for a change of scenery.
Perhaps you make a green smoothie for your afternoon snack because it gives you the energy to complete your workout. There are many more ways to take action than just exercising.
My Top 3 Actions To Get Moving…
- Putting on my workout clothes
- Walking to my garage gym
- Putting on some music, I like to train to
Then, I play a trick on myself. I tell myself…
“I’m just going to do a 5 min warm-up and a couple of sets of two strength exercises.”
By the time I’ve done the warm-up and two sets, I always do more, and the next thing you know, I’ve done my whole workout and a blissful cool-down stretch.
When I was a fighter, this mindset hack got me through some seriously grueling 6 am workouts!
Every single time I’ve been active over quarantine, I’ve thought to myself, “I feel great. Why don’t I do this more often.” Then two days later, I get busy with life, and I forget.
You see, action alone is like a fighter without an opponent, who’s also not wearing any shorts.
He’s still a fighter, but not with the same glamour as under the lights on fight night, and you probably wouldn’t bet on the guy without shorts or an opponent.
Okay, I have no idea where this metaphor is going. Sorry.
In short, action works best with the OTHER top motivators
- Public Commitment /Social Support
- Monetary Investment
Ninja Meowtivation is attaining the trifecta of fitness success:
Public commitment or social support, monetary investment, and ACTION.
Continually take daily action until you achieve habit status, and then getting in your workouts takes hardly any energy at all.
Unless you retire as a professional athlete and there’s no more public commitment or money involved, and your habits slowly fade as your priorities shift gradually towards other things.
Yup, that’s right. I lost my Ninja Fitness Meowtivation status I had for a good fourteen years or so. I basically have the workout motivation of a sloth right now. I’m not trying to be a downer. I just want you to know – I feel you.
However, I did work out twice this week already, and by writing this email, I’ll definitely work out today. Because if you don’t see me post it on IG, I give you full permission to give me shit about it, and I would hate that.
See! Public commitment works!
We’re all adjusting to this crazy life change and figuring out how to survive mentally and physically in our new “normal” virtual world.
If you’d like some help with commitment and taking daily action, reach out and schedule a call with me.
I love helping clients get out of their sloth-dom and back into being Ninja Cats. 😉
x Coach Roxy Vivien