What if it were that simple - that was all you needed to hear to do all the healthy things we're supposed to do to live happy and healthy lives? But it's not that simple, right? For some of us, that statement might be enough, but we're all different! We have different personalities, professions, interests, wear different clothes, even like different flavors of ice cream. I've recently brought up the topics of "What do you look for in a group fitness instructor and class?" and "Where do you prefer to get your sweat on?" and it became clear to me that there really isn't a recipe for the perfect workout - we're all different. I truly believe that you have to find the workout and schedule that works for you and your lifestyle. We also all have different reasons for wanting to keep up with our fitness and different ways that we prefer to be motivated, which brings me to a recent issue that came up where I teach group fitness classes.
It was the week of Thanksgiving, and since I teach at a university, group fitness classes were canceled Wednesday evening through Sunday for the holiday. Tuesday night was my last class before the break, and I was teaching Les Mills Bodypump. I decided to motivate everyone by picking something you might find at your Thanksgiving meal before each track. We did the squat track for turkey, the chest track for stuffing, etc. By the end of the class, I ran out of food and asked the class for some suggestions. One participant suggested we do the ab/core track for "football" and all of the sitting around we'll be doing over the holiday weekend. I thought it was a great way to get everyone focused on the workout and kick off the holiday weekend. I ended the week on Friday, with a post-Thanksgiving workout asking YAFFIES to design their workout for the day based on what they ate the day before.
While I do believe there was a difference between the way I approached my Bodypump class and the way this particular instructor approached the class, the fact remains that not everyone is motivated to push themselves harder when associating exercise with food and guilt. There are so many different reasons and motivations that result in someone stepping foot in a gym. I recently asked my readers to finish this sentence: "I run because _________". No two answers were the same. Because I teach at a university, I agree that as instructors we should be aware of specific concerns of the student population. But that doesn't take away from the fact that many people are exercising right along side a nutrition plan to lose weight and/or stay in shape.
But, this raises this issue - what DOES motivate someone to push harder while working out? And is there a "right" way to motivate yourself or someone else? For some, it indeed might be food-related, guilt-associated or not. For others, it might be fear of embarrassment in front of peers. For another group it could be fitting into a pair of pants that haven't fit in a while. Are these ALL "unhealthy" ways to motivate yourself? Certainly the reaction to this type of motivation isn't all bad (as seen by the tweet at the right). Would it be great if we could all be motivated by stress relief, self-empowerment and building strength and endurance, and perhaps the notion of taking care of our bodies? Ideally, YES! Realistically, this is probably not the case, especially in this student population.