By Team ICG® Master Trainer Joan Kent

Do any of your students struggle with motivation? Have any of them missed classes, perhaps several in a row, because they “just didn”™t feel motivated”? For a number of years, I”™ve been an instructor/nutritionist for a weight-management program that includes indoor cycling. Motivation has often been an issue.

Which comes first — motivation or results? My immediate response to that question was “motivation.” How can you get results if you”™re not motivated to do anything?

Still, in another life, I had the fitness job of showing people how to use the equipment, getting their health histories, and starting them on programs. Some came in excited, but others were resigned: “My doctor said I need to exercise to lower my blood pressure.” “My wife told me I have to join the club and lose weight.” Some even seemed resentful that they “had to” be there.

So, clearly, fitness programs don”™t all start with motivation. Once these new members started to lose a little weight, though, feel more energetic, sleep better, get a few compliments, that”™s when they didn”™t want to miss a day. That”™s when they put cross-trainers in the trunk because it messed up their plans when they forgot them one evening. That”™s when they began scheduling activities around their workouts instead of the reverse.

Apparently, for some people, results precede motivation.

This brings up another question. What”™s motivation? Several years ago, in the same weight-management program, we had a behavioral psychologist on staff, who defined motivation in terms of excitement. He”™d ask participants if they were still motivated, still excited, as if those were one and the same.

Are they? I feel sure the readers of ICI-PRO are highly motivated. Do you jump out of bed every morning, gleefully anticipating the class you”™ll soon be teaching, or your own workout, whatever it may be? Or every single ride? I imagine many of us feel excitement on something of a sliding scale.

The early A.M. gym crowd tends to be quite consistent. As I worked with a client one morning, a man who”™s at the gym most days approached us to say hello and added, “I really didn”™t want to be here today, but I told myself, ‘Gotta do it.”™” It was exactly what my client needed to hear; he usually dragged in, complaining about lack of motivation.

So back to the question of what motivation is. Is it enthusiasm? On any given morning, many consistent exercisers probably feel much the same way as the man who got himself to the club with, “Gotta do it.”

What can we do to help students who struggle to stay motivated? I suggest we start by telling them to accept their love-it/hate-it feelings about the workout. One day, your class will be their favorite thing to do all day. The next, they”™ll hate it — and you for being the Cycling Nazi. Embrace the dichotomy.

A Book Of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi holds one (rather esoteric) key. The way of the warrior is death. In a life or death situation, the warrior chooses death, accepts and embodies it so there”™s no fear, no desire to back away. Jim Karanas — NO surprise — trained this way for a 24-hour rowing event. Substituting pain for death, he embraced the pain and actually sought it out, rather than trying to avoid or lessen it.

Why not apply this to cycling classes? Accept, embrace and seek out all of the frustrations: discomfort, tedium, sleep deprivation, inconvenience, and more.

Mark Twain said, “Make it a point to do something every day that you don”™t want to do.” He claimed it led to the habit of doing one”™s duty without pain. I see it as the warrior”™s way — saying yes, rather than no, to the pain. Do something each day that you don”™t want to do simply to stay on the warrior”™s path, to move through and past those who think there”™s something wrong with feeling the pain in the first place.

Tell students it”™s okay to come in with scowling faces. No matter how much they didn”™t want to be there at first, they”™ll almost always be glad they showed up.

I”™ve pushed through workouts, competitions and stage performances despite injuries, fatigue, boredom, lack of prep time, or simple lack of desire. My decades as a fitness pro have taught me that anyone who wonders why someone would do something unpleasant won”™t adhere to a fitness program for any length of time.

Help your students redefine motivation. I read somewhere that a key to happiness is to learn to recognize a neutral state as happiness. The same can be said for motivation — it”™s not necessarily enthusiasm, let alone excitement.

Sometimes motivation is nothing more than planning, then getting where you have to be to do what you need to do, so you can get the results you say you want … pushing through obstacles, pain and discouragement, all the way to the goal.

You could call it the dark side of joy.
“Forget about likes and dislikes; they are of no consequence.
Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”
-- George Bernard Shaw

Originally posted 2013-04-01 06:46:50.

Joan Kent

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