Motivation and Fitness

When focusing on your fitness, it is important to set goals because goals help motivate you. Motivation is critical in many aspects of life and especially in fitness. In this post, I would like to discuss why motivation is important, some different types of motivation, and how you can ensure you stay motivated.


Why Motivation is Important

For the New Year, did you make a resolution related to your fitness? Many people do. Why are fitness resolutions so popular? With a New Year, many people see an opportunity to start fresh and make a change; they feel motivated. After all, what better time to work on fitness than after a holiday season notorious for overeating!

The problem is the majority of resolutions fail. In fact, Gold’s Gym reports that February 7th is the day (or maybe it is the 18th…) that fitness resolutions really start to fail, a mere 38 days after the New Year. Why do these fitness resolutions fail? One primary reason is the lack of continual motivation.

Types of Fitness Motivation

Many types of motivation can be found in fitness. Some of the big ones that stand out to me are:

  • Achievement: when you set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. fitness goals, you set in motion a chain of events that create and build motivation. When you set a goal, you will often feel motivated to achieve it. As you make progress toward your fitness goal, you will feel motivated to continue working on it. When you reach your fitness goal, you will feel motivated by your accomplishment. The only downside is setting a goal that you cannot attain, which of course, would reduce motivation.
  • Incentive: if you know you could or will get a reward for performing a fitness activity, you will likely feel more motivated. Depending on the reward, the motivation level may vary, but rewards are an easy way to become motivated.
  • Fear: if your health is at risk due to being unfit, then that can be quite a motivating factor.
  • Social: it common to get motivated by another person or even a new year. These targeted motivators can create and build motivation, but the effects can fade unless the source of the motivation continues. In charismatic people and peers, the continual source is easy, but sources like specific dates or motivational books and movies have a limited effect.

How to Stay Motivated

We all know what it feels like to be motivated, but when it comes to fitness, what motivates YOU? The answer is different for everyone, and if you have not taken the time to think about what motivates you, I would strongly encourage you do. Below are some of my recommendations to ensure you stay motivated.

  • Set some S.M.A.R.T.E.R. fitness goals: goals give you something to work toward.
  • Stop with the excuses: if you find yourself making excuses like not going to the gym, then it is time to create another S.M.A.R.T.E.R. fitness goal to eliminate the excuse.
  • Leverage a support network: just like goals, having a support network is a way to ensure you stay motivated. A support network could be your family, some close friends, some gym acquaintances, or even some work colleagues. A support network is also helpful to eliminate excuses.
  • Focus on positive things: life can be stressful, and life can bring you down from time to time. Positive things in your life make it easier to become or stay motivated.
  • Have fun: if you are not enjoying what you are doing, it will be challenging to continue doing it. Note that having fun does not mean slacking off. Fitness is not easy, but the results are worth it.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments: when you reach a fitness goal, take time to enjoy it. This could be as simple as stopping to reflect on how far you have come, telling somewhat about what you have achieved, and/or treating yourself to something.


Motivation is a valuable tool when it comes to you and your fitness. While fitness can be attained without motivation, doubt, fear, stress, frustration, fatigue, and many other things can derail you from your fitness aspirations. You can find motivation from a variety of sources include through achievements, through incentives, out of fear, and socially. When you find motivation, use it and when you lose motivation, look for it. To help stay motivated, you should set fitness goals, avoid excuses, leverage a support network, find positive aspects of your life, celebrate your accomplishments and, of course, have fun. Remember, it is as much of a mental workout when it comes to fitness as it is a physical workout.

Did you set a fitness resolution in 2015? If so, are you still on track?

© 2015 – 2021, Steve Flanders. All rights reserved.

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