On Motivation

As I am reading the ACE Personal Trainer textbook, I am noticing that one hot topic which comes up over and over again is motivation. There is a lot of material focusing on how to get the person you are training to be motivated to give their best effort and to make lifestyle changes which will complement their workout. Nike’s new marketing campaign for women is called “Make Yourself”. The idea is that you can pick a goal, whether it’s to become more lean, strong, or toned. You are working towards a better version of yourself no matter which goal you choose. To correspond with this campaign, Nike has connected their blog, Facebook, and Twitter to constantly remind those who commit to a goal what they should be doing.

Why is it that people need so much motivation?

Shouldn’t we all want to go exercise the recommended amount per week simply because we know it’s good for us? Shouldn’t we skip dessert simply because we know it contains a lot of empty calories? Shouldn’t we do our homework simply because we know it will help us to get a better grade? Shouldn’t we always plan to arrive early in case something comes up along the way simply so we won’t be late?

It may seem simple, but motivation for action is actually quite complex. How many times has there been something that you feel you should do, or you ought to do, but you didn’t do it? You never took that first step towards getting that thing accomplished because you were lacking motivation to do it. Nike’s new campaign attempts to tackle the motivation to exercise problem by constantly keeping exercise on the brain. What can you do to overcome those days when you are lacking motivation to get stuff done – especially when it comes to exercise?

The number one thing you can do to motivate yourself is to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Having a goal to work for will give you the extra push you need when you don’t feel like going in to the gym. You need to set a goal that you can get excited about. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds so that you can look great at your high school reunion, or maybe you want to gain some more muscle in your shoulders so you can show off your arms in tank tops. Write your goal down somewhere you can see it daily and remind yourself to stick with it.

Also write down a reward you will give yourself when you reach your goal. For example, “I am weighing 10 pounds less on November 1st because I have committed to running 3 times per week for 30 minutes or longer and I am rewarding myself with some new running shoes.” Or “I have more muscular arms and less noticeable flab when I put on a tank top on July 1st so I am rewarding myself to 3 sessions with a personal trainer to learn some new exercises so I can continue to challenge my muscles”. You always want to write out your goal like you have already accomplished it, never use the words “if” or “when”. If you are definitely committed to your goal, you will see results.

Take advantage of the many resources your gym offers to help you reach your goal. Attend group exercise classes to be surrounded by other people with similar goals and gain motivation from their example. Get a friend to commit to workouts with you can also help you have an added push. Just make sure it’s a friend around your same level of fitness who will challenge you, not slow you down.

Try out the following 3 moves below with a partner at the gym to challenge your body & have fun too!
1) BOSU high five. Start in a plank position, hands on the BOSU, toes on the ground. Your partner’s BOSU is lined up directly next to yours, they will assume the plank position with their head towards yours so that when each of you lift one arm off of the BOSU, you can reach forward and give each other a high five, then drop that arm back down to the top of the BOSU and remain in the plank position. Try to high five with the opposite arms, and switch arms each time. 40 high fives is one set, do 3.

2) Medicine ball sit up with toss. Start on a mat on the ground with the medicine ball between your hands. First pull the ball back behind your head and then as you sit up, throw the ball as far as you can towards your partner. You want this to be a fluid movement, as you are lifting up you are throwing at the same time. Don’t sit up and then throw. Choose a heavier medicine ball for a greater challenge for your core. Each person must complete 20 tosses, with the partner tossing it back to them each time. Do 3 sets.

3) Squat with resistance band twist. Both you and your partner will face the same direction and lower down into a squat. Each of you will hold on to one end of a resistance band or tube. While staying low in your squat you will take turns pulling the tube to the outside of your body, then releasing as your partner pulls across. By keeping your core in tight and shoulders down, you will effectively work your shoulder and abdominal muscles as well as your quads with this exercise.

Set your goal today. Promise yourself a reward. Surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you to do your best. And don’t make excuses.

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