6 Tips to Fuel Your Fitness Fire
If you were to ask me as a trainer one thing I believe is holding people back from getting results, I would tell you motivation. There are a few exceptions, but if most gym-goers had more motivation I would likely be out of a job. That kind of drive is what made world champion bodybuilders out of toothpicks, it’s what made marathon runners out of near paraplegic, it made the most exceptional athletes of our time out of average, everyday people. Motivation is real, it’s potent, but it also takes time to cultivate. I understand if you’re struggling to find that fire to go to the gym and accomplish your goals, this is only natural. Fortunately I have a few tips that may help you develop and maintain your fire for fitness.
Look to Those Who Inspire Your Fitness Goals
You can gain a lot of motivation just learning from those who came before you.
So I’ll give you a personal example; in the stage I am of my fitness journey, I’m really into bodybuilding, and one of my all time heroes is the “Black Prince” Robby Robinson. His physique is everything that I hope to embody someday and the fact that he’s still super fit at 75+ years old is everything I hope to internalize for lifelong fitness. Seeing his pictures and watching his training videos gives me a super-boost most days, after watching him train back I count the hours until my next visit to the gym. But I learned something even more motivating and powerful from him, and it is summed up in this quote:
“Do not seek to follow the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.”– Matsuo Basho
I learned that the deeper depths of motivation lie in finding the “meaning behind the meaning”. So as much as I admired Robby I had to find out what he himself was looking for so that I could develop a stronger foundation of drive. And I found it. In an interview he gave he described his approach and outlook for training as that of an artist sculpting a beautiful masterpiece. As an artist that really resonated with me. I began to look at my body as a work of art and that gave me greater self respect and reverence for the body’s own unique beauty. I became more motivated to wake up every morning and chip away at my own individual sculpture and more patient with the process. It also helped me realize that I have to compare my body with Robby’s, but because I seek the art weightlifting, I can appreciate my body as it’s own unique canvas.
Sorry to get so philosophical, but it’s possible to cultivate a lot of motivation by learning from those who’ve attained what your looking for. Let their example fuel your fire and their work ethic light your way.
Bring a Friend or Make an Enemy
Dynamic duos can make a lot happen. Arnold Schwarzenegger has Franco Columbo, Batman has Robin, peanut butter has jelly, you get the picture. The same parallels can be made in the gym; we can accomplish a lot by ourselves, but with a motivated gym partner we can really go the distance. A lot of my greatest milestones and most memorable moments in the gym have been with my brother by my side. The same goes for him. There is nothing like a little friendly rivalry to put the fire under you to get to the gym, especially if the other person constantly brags about the progress they’re making.
Unfortunately not everyone has a gym-partner in their life, or at least not a motivated one, so what can be done? My suggestion is if you can’t bring a friend to the gym- make an enemy. Now when I say enemy I am referring to a gymnesis (aka gym-nemesis), a person who regularly frequents the gym and is either on the same level as you or outshines you in the same genre of exercise. You should not harbor any ill will against this person like the conventional enemy, quite the contrary, you should actually have a quite admiration of their work ethic and results. But you must use this admiration fuel your competitive fire, refusing to allow anyone to out-work you or out-perform you. The greatest names in history didn’t just have great partners but great rivals as well to fuel their legend. Arnold Schwarzenegger competed against the likes of Lou Ferrigno, Mohammad Ali went round-for- round against the mighty George Foreman, Achilles battled the noble Hector.
It is ok to use others to keep you motivated while you cultivate your own drive as long as it doesn’t grow into an unhealthy obsession. So next time you go to the gym keep your eyes peeled for your new arch rival
Make Fitness a Ritual and not a Chore
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”-Aristotle
Some people are just born gifted or at least with an unusual inclination towards something. Some people have a natural ear for music, a hyper creative mind, maybe some type of quality that gives them the apparent “edge” over others. Despite these qualities, I couldn’t give you one example of a highly driven, effective, and successful person who did not make a habit out of what they wanted to master.
Excellence is developed, not inherited
Motivation is developed, not inherited
Finding motivation to go to the gym can be difficult at times, but when it becomes a habit or ritual in your life it becomes less of something you will yourself to do and more of a natural part of your lifestyle. One way of making this easier is setting a set time and day of the week for exercise. The mind loves repetition and desires the safety of consistency. If you you manage to block a specific time for the gym and stick to it for a couple of weeks, I guarantee exercise will become easier, and as results start coming in from that consistency, your drive will go up as well.
Be Open to Learning New Training Principles
Often people lose motivation because they hit a plateau in their training and stop seeing results. This is just a natural part of fitness; the body’s programming is to acclimates only to the stress placed upon it, but once it gets used to the routine, it has no real incentive to keep growing. This is why in order to move to the next level you must be willing to learn new training principles and techniques in order to push your body to new extremes. As Thomas Jefferson said:
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”
New training routines not only add variety to your arsenal, they also add depth and experience to your training as a whole. A reason many lack motivation is because they have a very shallow, superficial relationship with exercise. (I’m not saying you) They do a couple exercises they saw in a video, jump on the treadmill for an hour, and call it a day. And they wonder why they don’t get results? When you’re invested in fitness, when you delve into its many dimensions seeking new knowledge, you will reap a new level of fulfillment and direction from each workout. This will require you to learn new things and grow. Think about it like a relationship with a person; if you don’t continue to grow and evolve with them, you’re simply going through the motions which makes the relationship stale. Keep digging and growing with fitness.
See the Bright Side of Fitness
A lot of what drains people at the thought of working out isn’t their busy schedule, or their lack of sleep from the night before , but the way they look at the gym. You’ve got to get positive! There are only 2 ways I know of that motivate people; the fear of pain or the desire for future pleasure. So unless you’re deadly afraid of some health complication down the road, how are you supposed to stay motivated for distant reward if you don’t think positively about fitness?
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty”-Winston Churchill
I’ve seen many stories where people’s struggles with health seemed insurmountable. Some had hundreds of pounds to lose, others were told they would never walk again, regardless the odds were definitely stacked against them. They could’ve resigned themselves to whatever fate was in store for them but they decided to find the silver lining and take control of their health. The journey was most definitely rough, but the key to each day is this
Every workout is one more session I am reclaiming my health, and everyday is a step taken for the sake of optimal health
This mentality can work for any goal in the gym because everyday you enter with purpose and discipline (even if it’s hard) you move closer to hitting a new personal record, mastering a new technique, or losing a significant amount of weight. It all begins and ends with a positive attitude.
Just do it
No ground was ever taken standing still, a large part of finding the drive to workout is in the execution. We’ve all heard of analysis paralysis and are familiar with procrastination. When you overthink the gym these symptoms start to sink in. I remember the fear and uncertainty of being new to the gym:
“Am I doing this exercise correctly?” “Do people see how little weight I’m lifting?” “What if my body won’t grow?” A lot of what stifled my progress in the beginning was my own insecurities. I would research and read a ton of articles about training and nutrition, but only as I gained confidence through action did my determination to go to the gym consistently grow. Don’t sweat the details;
I guarantee that as you grow more familiar with the process it will become easier to workout, but there has to be action.
“knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.”-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Have Fun with it
Sometime the only way to outwit your lack of drive is to get creative. As ol’ Einstein once said:
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
The intelligent way to make something stimulating is to make it fun and enjoyable. It’s kind of simple but look at kids; how is it that they are able to entertain themselves and each other at times with so little without the power of an active imagination? We might have outgrown most of our immature ways, but that creativity is still there waiting to be used. Tap into your inner child during your workout, let your imagination run free; pretend you’re training as an inter-galactic gladiator, or running for your life from a Demi-gorgon, maybe you’re a boxer putting in more work than Rocky in his training montages. Whatever you choose go with the flow and have fun with it.
You may even want to try new equipment or even a different form of exercise, so long as you enjoy it and keeps you on track towards your goals.
You may use only a few of these tips, but applying them into your fitness lifestyle could be the factor that gets you off the ground and souring to new heights.