Why do you go to the gym? Probably for lots of reasons. Being clear about them will help you to keep up your motivation when the going gets tough.
Two kinds of motivation
Our motivation for doing anything generally falls into one of two categories: Intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Those are fancy words for a fairly simple idea:
For example: In his new series about getting motivated, Jonathan Lomax talks about how wanting to look good is what motivates many people to first start going to the gym. That's extrinsic motivation. You want to drop a dress size or build up a six-pack, so you do what it takes to achieve that.
But Jonathan also makes the important point that his workouts make people feel good in themselves. That's intrinsic motivation. You keep going to the gym because you're enjoying it for its own sake.
Making the most of your motivation
That's all very interesting, but so what? Well, knowing about the different kinds of motivation can help you to stick to your goals. Including your fitness goals. Your chances of persevering in the long run are vastly improved if you are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated.
So get yourself a pen and a bit of paper. Draw a line down the middle. Label one side “extrinsic motivation” and the other “intrinsic motivation.” Give yourself five minutes to write down every single reason you exercise in the relevant column. Don't censor yourself – write down anything that comes up.
Now take a look at what you've written. The balance of reasons will give you a clue on how to improve your motivation. If it's all extrinsic and you're basically exercising as a means to an end, perhaps you need to find a form of exercise you enjoy more in its own right. If it's all intrinsic, you're doing something you love but you're not seeing any results from it, perhaps you need to tweak things to change that.
Ultimately, there's nothing like getting on and doing something to improve your motivation. So even if you don't particularly feel like it, get yourself to the gym today. The motivation will come when you're there!
Sometimes my motivation is working towards a set date or a special occasion. Recently, though I am motivated by keeping fit so my mind has clarity and my immune system is strong. I find i'm working out more now due to this long-term, ongoing goal.
My motivation is all the Easter eggs I plan to eat this month!!
Maybe it depends on different components of your fitness regime. I'm intrinsically motivated to do competitive cycling. I just love it. But in order to reach the fitness levels I need to do well, a certain amount of gym training is required. So maybe the gym itself can be a component of a wider approach?
I'm joining the extrinsic camp - the gym is a means to an end!
When I'm trying to motivate myself I guess I'm all about why it's supposed to be good for me. I never really think of it in terms of why it might be fun,
I think I go to the gym for extrinsic motivation - because I know it's good for me. It's only when I'm there that I get the intrinsic motivation - when I realise again that it can be fun!
These days I go to the gym out of habit - I have a routine and I stick to it, I don't even think about it anymore so I suppose I'm naturally motivated?
my vote is for music exercise - zumba and so on. That ticks both boxes; lots of fun AND does you good!
I don't really like exercise for its own sake. I go to the gym as a means to an end. Apparently I need to find some intrinsic motivation. But you know what? The extrinsic stuff is enough to have built a regular gym habit that's lasted many years so far. Horses for courses.
It's a bit hard to disentangle the two kinds of motivation. Exercising makes me feel good - intrinsic. BUT part of the reason I feel good is the knowledge that I'm doing something that other people have told me is good for me - extrinsic. So which is it?!