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Motivation and Valuing Your Training

Here’s a thought. The people I have programmed and trained for free are far less likely to follow my programming than the people who pay for it. This is an established economic and psychological phenomenon, which is lucky really or I would get offended very regularly. If you pay more for a product or service, not utilising it can lead to cognitive dissonance, which is partly why more expensive gyms tend to have greater attendance rates from members. (the other possible factor could be that they tend to attract a more serious client, one who values his/her training more) The more you pay, the more value you place upon the service. A bit like buying a 10 year old car versus buying a brand new one. You’re going to wash the new one a little more and maybe not park it near the shopping trolley bay at the supermarket. Similarly, if you bought an expensive car, and your friend bought one that cost a third less that was proven to be of higher quality and aesthetically more pleasing, you’d still find some reason to justify your purchase. To you, the car would still be more valuable than your friends.

Now if you train for free or for very little, does this mean that you’re definitely going to be less committed to your training than the guy beside you who is paying top dollar? Not necessarily. There are other notions of value than merely financial, and other motivations too, and motivation is highly complex. Some people will appreciate how lucky they are to be getting such a bargain and work extra hard, and others will be completely unaffected either way, but most people will fall somewhere in the middle, and conform to psychological norms. Sorry, but that’s probably you.

So how can knowing this help you? For me knowing why I might be feeling a certain way has definitely helped me in my own training as well as the coaching of others. Understanding that a demotivated period can be due to a number of factors is helpful. Understanding that these periods pass just as periods of high performance and motivation do is definitely a help for example. In the same way, understanding that perhaps you’re not valuing your training, and instead are being complacent about what you’re fortunate to be getting (ie. a bargain gym, a great park facility beside your house, a good training buddy). Getting people to understand and appreciate what they have as opposed to what they don’t can help them turn a corner.

The facebook and social media outbreak of the past few years has definitely upped the stakes in this regard. It used to be that certain characters on a team would simply imagine that everyone was training harder than them, with better equipment, better coaches, doing better work and so on. Now however, they have social media proof for this, since their peers are posting their training online, and when they go home after a bad training session, they read about how great everyone else’s day was. Just like when you sit down to eat your meat and two vegetables, someone has posted a picture of their organic Coq au Vin that they had put in front of them. Just as you’ll be waiting on people to post up pictures of Corn Flakes or ham sandwiches, you’ll also be waiting on the posts that say “Pretty standard day in the gym, lifted nothing spectacular. Thankfully it’s done” alongside a video of them lifting moderate weights.

If I get time in the next few days, I’ll follow this post up with an example of how we altered certain demotivational behaviours in our team through discussion and good attitudes. I’ll ask some permission from the guys first but I think it’s a good example of what I’ve written about in the past two blog posts, and I’m sure they won’t mind.


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