“I think I can! I think I can!” Famous words from The Little Engine That Could. He was bound and determined to get up that hill. Put another way, he was motivated!
According to the Macmillan Dictionary, motivation is a feeling of enthusiasm or interest that makes you determined to do something.
If we are determined to do something in order to get something (money, praise, etc), we are said to be extrinsically motivated. If we are determined to do something because it is something we like to do, we are intrinsically motivated.
At first glance, it might seem that extrinsic motivators (food, bonuses, rewards) might be the best way to keep people on task. However, that is only true for purely mechanical tasks. When you have a thinking component along with a mechanical task, those who are intrinsically motivated do best.
At Vertex Fitness, we don’t say, “Sit here and lift this 12 times”. That would be purely mechanical. Or do we say, “Sit here, Pull your shoulders down, Lean your head back, Squeeze your shoulder blades and pull your elbows through”? That is mechanical with a thinking component.
People who are intrinsically motivated have a greater sense of control in their actions, they want to achieve a greater sense of mastery in what they are doing, and they have a better understanding of their purpose.
When you exercise, it is good to have some extrinsic motivators, such as your trainer or how your arms will look. But to be truly motivated to reach your goals, focus on learning to master each movement. Enjoy how much more control you develop in the studio and outside. Understand how the entire program impacts your life and the lives of those around you.