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What motivates you to go to the gym?

What motivates you to go to the gym?

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:

  • Intrinsic motivation is when you do something for its own sake.
  • Extrinsic motivation is when you do something as a means to an end.

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!