Getting people to consistently attend class is not easy. In all the years that I've trained others, I've heard every excuse under the sun. Although it's tempting to fill this blog post with everything I've heard and the reasons why they aren't valid, I'd rather focus on what you CAN do to stay motivated.
As with most things in life, the key to staying motivated to continue working out lies in a mnemonic:
Goal, Accountability, Progress, Schedule = G.A.P.S
The following is based on scientific research and years of observation dealing with countless people spanning all ages, fitness levels, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
How can you get to your destination if you don't even know what it is? Your goal needs to be tangible and realistic. For the purposes of this article we'll use a hypothetical, yet common, case study:
Lacy is an average thirty-something woman that wants to get into shape, but hot damn does she love red wine.
"Getting into shape" is a very subjective phrase. What does that really entail? Is it losing ten pounds, increasing muscle mass, reducing fat, or perhaps it's getting a "nice butt"? Everyone's goals are different, but I steer my students away from the cosmetic. Rather, I help them work toward goals that improve their overall fitness, while still being able to enjoy life. This means not obsessing over every little calorie, workout result, or measurement.
Stay disciplined by coming to class four times a week, and enjoy that Pinot Noir Lacy! In order to give her a more focused goal, I'm going to tell her to sign up for a Tough Mudder that takes place in 4 months. She immediately poops her pants.
Now that Lacy has a tangible goal in 4 months the clock is ticking. I've already made her sign up and tell her peeps on social media, as well as her classmates. Lo and behold, her homie Christy thinks that's awesome and wants to do it as well!
Now that Lacy has a workout buddy, these two push each other and stay accountable. Not to mention the support she gets from her Ohana and myself. If you miss a couple days you'll be sure to get a text from us!
Awww are you too sore Lacy? Too bad! Christy drags you out of bed.
Awww didn't get enough sleep Christy because you missed regular happy hour and decided to go to late night happy hour instead? Nope, not hearing it! Lacy is already on her way to class and blowing up your phone.
Whatever it may be, find a way to stay accountable! If done correctly you will both love and hate it, but you'll know it's for your own good.
We all need to be challenged, but not with things that are impossible. Little accomplishments are what will keep us motivated, according to the Goldilocks Rule. Simply stated, our challenges shouldn't be too hard or too easy.
In Lacy's case, how do we apply the Goldilocks Rule towards her Tough Mudder? Well, the obstacles themselves- monkey bars, sprints, lifts, etc.- are good measures.
Therefore in class Lacy should focus on doing one unassisted pull up, running a mile in under ten minutes, and doing fifty squats with two 25 lb dumbbells.
She may die at first, but with consistency these goals should be accomplished within a month or less. Without fail, when Lacy finally gets that pull up after three weeks of practice, she'll be motivated to accomplish more!
How can you measure and attain little accomplishments working towards your overall goal? Identifying this is the key to tracking progress and staying motivated.
Don't be flaky about this. If Lacy tells me, "Um, I'll go to class Monday probably," chances are she isn't showing up. Figure out which routine works for you and stick to it. I give my students extra help with this by making them RSVP to each class.
On Sunday night I'll make Lacy look at her schedule. She knows she has a dinner on Wednesday and early meeting on Friday, so I make her commit to class Monday night, Tuesday night, Thursday morning, and Saturday morning. This means that she has to be disciplined about NOT getting that extra glass of wine at her dinner or else Thursday will be hell. She also HAS to work out on Thursday morning so that she gets enough sleep for her early morning on Friday.
Of course everyone is different and can only commit to certain class times, but everyone can use foresight and be realistic about your professional and personal life. It's true that we all have priorities, but if you truly want to achieve your goals, you'll be disciplined about scheduling your life around your workouts, not vice versa.
- What is your goal?
- How will you stay accountable?
- What challenging, yet achievable, milestones along the way will you use to measure progress?
- Did you plan your workout schedule in advance, factoring in professional and personal life commitments?
If you need help coming up with a plan:
- Chat with some buddies that give it to you straight, not yes men!
- Talk to your instructors/coaches.
- Or shoot me an email, even if you're not one of my students. I'm always happy to help :)
Lastly, if you didn't even take the time to read this post as a first step in achieving a healthy lifestyle, you're continuing to make excuses.
Stop wasting money, time, and standing in the way of your own goals. You could be accomplishing things and improving your life by now!
PS - If you found us on Facebook and were simply looking for more pictures of tinaFey, congratulations for finishing this article...you are now handsomely rewarded.