Motivating for Success

There’s no doubt that motivation is key to exercise adherence. All of us have internal and external motivators. Our internal motivators consist of such things as personal goals, like fitting into that cocktail dress and achieving that ever-sought-after muscle definition, or lifestyle goals, such as making exercise a substitute for a bad habit like smoking or just plain laziness. To help us stick with exercise, fitness professionals can often influence our internal motivators, and even help us to identifywhat they may be, but they can even better influence our external motivators — those things that keep us going in the moment, while we’re actually exercising. These motivators include instructors whose example and enthusiasm make us finish the class and return for another, or the music to which we’re listening that keeps us running one more mile and then another and another.

In this issue, we explore the ways in which fitness facilities can appeal to members’ internal and external motivations. A prime example of how we can appeal to external motivations is through creativity in identifying group classes, and even in naming them. If you cringed when you saw the word “cellulite” on the cover, don’t be misled. We know that cellulite is just fat, rather than something that can be gotten rid of through creams and spot reducing (as many companies would like consumers to believe). But let’s face it: A lot of women want to get rid of their “cellulite,” and they’ll try just about anything to do it. So why not create a “cellulite reduction program” (pp.32), as Wayne Westcott has done at the South Shore YMCA, to educate your members about their No. 1 enemy? If the ads can get these women to try their products, why not a class that will truly educate them about what cellulite is and how to fight it with a program that will actually achieve results?

Classes that help members to improve upon their sport-conditioning goals are excellent for appealing to both external and internal motivations. We’ve been writing about indoor climbing programs for years, but these programs are becoming ever more popular, and climbing has gotten much more sophisticated. On page 38, Marc Heileman takes a look at sport climbing, which he terms a subdiscipline of climbing, where athleticism, rather than reaching the top, is the goal. That’s not to say that getting to the top isn’t important — it’s a good external motivator — no matter what climbing technique is being used. But as Heileman says, sport climbers are even more attracted to climbing walls because of their “ability to build fitness in a fun and unrepetitive way,”which is a great internal motivator.

What else makes fitness fun and unrepetitive? Entertainment. It’s been quite a rollercoaster these past few years, with several innovative entertainment options, as well as the downfall of a few of those innovators (namely, Netpulse and E-Zone). But one thing’s for sure: Go into any fitness facility’s cardio room, and televisions and headphones are like the glue that keeps members on the machines. But entertainment reaches farther than the cardio room. The background music in the gym is equally important for those lifting weights, stretching or whatever. Which leads me to a short personal story: My gym plays great background music, and I know it tries hard to appeal to everyone’s musical preferences.It plays a good mix of musical stylesat just the right volume.

However, it seems that lately, the vacuum cleaner is always a decibel above the background music — an external de-motivator if there ever was one. I can tell I’m not alone in my feelings by other members’ expressions.

Remember, it’s all about the members and how the programming and environment affect their internal and external motivators. Be creative, make it fun, appeal to their motivations, and members will stick with it!

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