I have not made it any secret that I’m a Peloton devotee.
I’ve had my bike for a year now, and honestly? It’s kind of changed my life. Certainly, it’s renewed my pleasure in fitness, and provided a whole new source of community and inspiration, personally and professionally.
Interestingly, it hasn’t exactly provided motivation, which might sound a little surprising, seeing as that seems to be a big factor for why people buy into it.
I mean, the options for keeping your motivation up are endless with Peloton. In addition to simply tracking workout stats like frequency, output, and streaks, you’ve got monthly challenges, yearly challenges, pop-up challenges, training challenges, and every one of them with the potential to earn the coveted badge. Most recently, there’s Pelothon 2020, a 4-week challenge made up of four separate weekly challenges. BADGES GALORE, PEOPLE!
And indeed, I do have quite the collection of badges. The allure of joining the Century Club and getting your free* t-shirt** is strong. But it’s not my motivation. I’m not working for the t-shirt or the streak or the badge.
That’s adjacent to my sources of motivation.
Motivation can be a fickle and funny thing – I’m sure I don’t have to tell you. It comes and goes. It’s powerful for a day and gone for a month. It shows up in the form of people or methods or goals or trends or deadlines, challenges or streaks, disappears when any of those things do. And yet, those are the things we seek in order to increase it, to try to get it to stick around.
Motivation is the reason we buy Nordic Tracks and Bowflexes (and let them become laundry hangers.) It’s the reason we sign up for 30-day challenges and go through that 30-day eating program (that tries to claim it’s not a diet) again. It’s the reason we make our friends and family join in too. And motivation can be a big reason why we’re drawn to options like Peloton, or CrossFit, or #RWRunStreak.
It’s the single biggest question I get asked as a fitness and mindset coach:
How do I get/stay motivated?
Spoiler alert: my answer never includes a challenge, a streak, or any particular method of fitness.
Because none of those things are a source of motivation. They’re just means. And in order to get/stay motivated, you have to get to the source.
And even though deep down we know this is the truth, we constantly look for motivation in these ways and means outside ourselves. It’s not our fault; it’s what we’ve been taught, and sold – you’ll never be able to do this without someone else’s help. With this meaning whatever externally influenced version of fitness or health or wellness you’ve been told should be important to you.
So the challenge here is layered, of course. When trying to get to the bottom of fitness motivation you have to get to the bottom of both fitness and motivation. It’s complicated.
It’s complicated because humans are complicated. Our bodies are definitely complicated. What feels like fitness for one person gets snubbed by another. What motivates one person turns another completely off. This is why you can try all the things everyone else is trying and still feel meh about all of it. Also, it’s why something can feel great for a while, but not always and forever. Because not only is it complicated, it’s all so very, deeply personal.
The source of your motivation is – has to be – you. And only you.
It’s not rooted in weight loss. Or health markers. Or clothing sizes. When it is, when it has been, how do you feel?
It’s not rooted in torturing yourself to the point of puking, or doing what your friend is doing even though you dread it, or running so much you quit having your period. When it is, or has been, how do you feel?
It’s not rooted in going to the trendiest studio in town, or rewards for reaching goals, or forcing yourself to do something when you’d rather be doing something else. When it is, or has been, how do you feel?
Motivation is rooted in who you are. In what matters most to you. It’s rooted in what you believe in, and how you want to feel. And the fitness that aligns with that is the only fitness you need to worry about.
My motivation is rooted in my top personal values, which are weaved throughout everything I do – health, connection, and learning. My fitness reflects that.
I prioritize movement, of course, but I’m always exploring and trying and tinkering, learning what I like and what’s best for me and my life in this season. Connection can certainly show up in something like the Peloton community and high fiving on the leaderboard, but it can also be a quiet nod as I’m taking a quick walk in a new park. And health does not come from rigid structure or tracking or living for badges. It comes from a well-rounded perspective, mindset, relative consistency, and excessive self-compassion.
Tools and methods support those things, but only when they’re aligned. And I’m constantly evaluating that for myself. Like right now, for instance. Yeah, I’m participating in Pelothon and I’m having fun. I’m completing challenges so far. But I’m not freaking out about how I’m doing that, or exactly when. And I already know I won’t be all disappointed if I miss a week or don’t end up completing the whole thing. The means is not the motivation itself. They work in tandem, in a cyclical relationship.
Because tools and means can only take you so far. External motivation rooted in guilt, shame, and shoulds does. not. work.
Which, by the way, is about 80% of what the fitness industry is selling these days. No wonder that kind of motivation peters out, right? You will literally never, ever be comfortable with your fitness or your body if that’s what you reach for in your motivation source. Instead, you’re going to have to reach inside, figure out you first and always, then apply the execution that makes sense for you. That’s where the unending motivation comes from.
I know. That sounds like a lot. It sounds deep, and difficult, and overwhelming, and maybe too much. You want a straight answer to the motivation question. But, um, I just gave it to you. That’s it.
If you can make the time and spend the money on expensive classes or memberships that don’t actually feel all that great, you’ve got the time and money to spend on figuring this out for yourself in a way that feels so freaking great you can hardly believe it. It’s not without effort, but the outcome sure is worth it.
It’s worth more than that Bowflex you’re trying desperately to sell on Craigslist anyway.
I can help. Promise. Give me a few hours a week, a few months. Give it to yourself. Fitness Unraveled will absolutely guide you through figuring out your motivation and your fitness, and, well, probably a few other adjacent things too. The next group will start in August, and you can get on the waitlist here, now.