While many men thrive on exercise, some have a hard time getting themselves motivated to work out. So how can you get yourself in the mood to get fit and stay fit? What motivational mantras can inspire men to get off the sofa and do something a little more interesting instead? Perhaps the promise of a buff body and toned masculine physique is all it takes!
Be like Beckham! Sculpt your six pack and perfect those pecs! Be a metrosexual muscleman! These days men are under as much pressure as women to have the perfect body. They are bombarded with images of muscular and airbrushed young celebrities with sculptured torsos and chiselled abs selling expensive underwear and unrealistic expectations.
Such adverts are best met with a mocking sneer this doesn’t stop lots of men trying to conform to this less than realistic image. However, many men soon find that they have neither the gym time or the photoshop skills to make themselves look as good as their model counterparts. A range of studies since the 90s has shown that more than 50% of men who take up an exercise program quit within 12 months.
So marketing fantasies aside, how can you stay motivated enough to devise a fitness plan and to stick to it?
Don’t treat exercise as a duty or a chore!
Keeping fit shouldn’t be a chore but regular exercise can feel like it. After a day slaving over a computer or running round after your boss, you need superhuman dedication not to crash out in front of the TV with a cold beer. Many men only sign up for the gym when feeling the effects of age, when their pants no longer fit or they read a magazine article that gets them worried about cholesterol. But it shouldn’t be a combination of guilt and fear that motivates you to start getting fit.
Exercise for fun
Don’t punish yourself. Forcing yourself to do something makes it feel more onerous than it actually is. Remember being a child when enjoying sports and running around was just part of the fun of life? Find that fun again, compete with your buddies, organize sports where can hang out and enjoy time together. Soon you’ll be looking forward to the day’s end when you can get out of the office and swap your tie for training shoes.
Being with friends is a motivation in itself. You might balk at the idea of a three-mile run into the hills on a cold evening, but when your buddy turns up and you know you’ll both be enjoying a (lite) beer at the end of your session, you are going to be much more enthusiastic about getting going. You don’t have to force yourself into a dull gym routine. You could spend a day hiking rather than hours on a treadmill or rowing on a lake rather than a machine. When working out is fun, it’s no longer a chore, but a pleasure.
Intrinsic motivation (doing it because you want to!)
A 2004 study in the International Journal of Sport and Health Science, looked at 486 people who exercised regularly and grouped them in terms of motivation, from those who did it for fun, to those who were pressured to do so, by themselves or a partner. After only six months, the self motivated exercisers who were still working out, outnumbered their ‘forced’ friends by three to one. Successful exercisers are driven by passion and their motivation is intrinsic. They don’t exercise because they know they should, they do it because they want to.
Identified motivation (doing it because you know it’s good for you!)
There are still many men who don’t enjoy sports, competitive or otherwise, but know they need to hit the gym occasionally for the sake of their health. If this is you, then ask yourself why you are exercising in the first place. This is called identified motivation and you need to rely on this if you don’t have the intrinsic passion for exercise. When you’re not exercising for the joy of it, then your motivation becomes dependent on rewards. And these need to be ongoing. You may plan to have dropped a certain amount of weight in six months, but when you reach that target, what next? Always have a target to aim for.
There are so many pro athletes who seem to get out of shape and chubby when their playing days are over. This is because they’ve lost the intrinsic motivation that inspired them do the sport they love. There are three things that ensure you keep you going to the gym when your passion is waning.
You want to. This is your choice and you know a change needs to be made.
You feel you are getting good at a sport or activity you’ve taken up. This may even bring back your intrinsic motivation as you improve.
You are enjoying other benefits; not just looking better but having new experiences and meeting a whole new circle of friends
When you are not exercising for the sheer joy of it, then your motivation becomes dependent on rewards. And these need to be ongoing. You may have a weight loss goal but when you reach that target, what next? Always have a target to aim for.
Do you want to get in shape but dread the thought of a gym routine? Get in touch as help us find a fun, life-changing way to exercise.