What motivates you?

Why train?
Well, why do anything? Transforming your body makes as much sense as throwing balls into a basket or climbing Mt. Everest. You do it because you want to know if you can. If you get healthier in the process, great, but it is not the main motivation for most trainees. 99% of all people entering a gym want to look better (without clothes). While this is a great starting point, most people lose interest rather fast and do not reach their goals. Part of that is the solitary nature of training – since there are no teammates, no fixed practice hours, no accountability, it is easy to slip. As a NYC personal trainer I have a vested interest to avoid clients dropping out, the the motivational mystery must be solved.
So while impressing the other or same sex is the end goal, the question remains:
What motivates one to embark on the fitness journey?
There are four types of motivation when it comes to the process of changing a physique or one’s life style.
1. Extrinsic, negative motivation: your doctor tells you to lose weight or friends call you fat. While this type of motivation can yield great results at first, it is bound to fail in the long run since you will always view exercise as a chore that you did not choose and it is not enjoyable. The moment you achieve your goal or even before, you‘ll go back to your old ways. The biggest loser participants come to mind.
2. Extrinsic, positive motivation: a partner or friend tries to coax you into a new life style without being judgemental. Slightly higher chance of survival than option 1, but it still was not your idea. There is a chance that at some point you accept the idea as your own, that will be your breakthrough.
3. Intrinsic, negative motivation: “I am such a fat piece of crap, I should really do something.” Such a crash start is actually not bad but at some point you‘ll need to change your view of training from something you deeply hate toward something better such as it being a great tool to increase your confidence, improve the outlook on life etc.
4. Intrinsic, positive: motivation: “I am doing this for myself, in order to be a better husband, father, mother, friend, etc.” This one has obviously by far the highest chance of creating a lasting change in one’s daily habits since it is for you, chosen by you.
So is everyone who does not start at No 4 lost ? Not at all.
While it is ok to start your fitness journey at door 1, 2, or 3, you need to get to 4 at some point. I was at door 3 when I started since I was very skinny and it certainly took a while to transform my thought process. To be honest, things started falling into place once I began caring less about placings, what other athletes look like, approval of others, and simply trained for myself. Low and behold, I started looking better than ever, while being more at peace with myself.
Also, this is not a straight road. From time to time you get kicked back to door No 2 or 3 and thats ok. Reassess and move on.
Happy gains!