Linda Hall: The mysteries of motivation

By Linda Hall

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Sophie Pascoe.
Sophie Pascoe.

On November 6 I am going to be talking to Sophie Pascoe. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be phoning her to talk about her book; a biography titled, Sophie Pascoe A Stroke of Fate.

The book should arrive today or tomorrow, I hope. One of the questions I plan to ask Sophie is what motivates her.

Motivation is a funny thing. Some people have it in bucket-loads, others have a little and some people have none at all. What do top athletes have that the average Joe Bloggs doesn't?

Why is it that some people start going to the gym full of motivation and drive and last a month while others are still going years later?

I have been a member of Aspyre Fitness for nearly two years now. It is one of only three privately-owned gyms in Hastings.

Owner and operator Jamie Loughran reckons most top athletes suffer with lack of motivation in training from time time just like us normal people but they have a definite and clear goal: To win! The training is a means to an end for them, he said.

"For most people that's the trick; having a clear and defined goal of success. Something you can measure your progress towards. The goals can change as you go along and develop an understanding of yourself and your body. It might start as 'I must come in the top five' and as you progress and find your stride in training and strengthen your weaknesses it might change to 'I must come first'.

"For us normal people the goal might be to lose weight so you start exercising toward that. First set a goal: lose 5kg. Then figure out how you are going to get there. It might be 'I will do four exercise classes a week'. Remember that this is a means to an end of your ultimate goal - the 5kg. As you move along thinking 'right I've lost 3kg, now how am I going to get the other two off' you might set another mini goal 'I will up all my weights by 1kg over the next two weeks'."

It makes sense when said like that.

My gym (as I like to call it) is not the flashiest in town. There are no TVs on the bikes or running machines, the equipment is well used, and there's a huge tyre in the middle of one of the exercise rooms along with a great big sledge hammer. People pound the tyre with the hammer to build up their strength or maybe to de-stress ... I don't know, I haven't tried it. Maybe I should.

I really like Aspyre Fitness. I don't go to the gym to watch TV, I go because it makes me feel good. Everyone smiles at me and it's never a problem if you ask for help. The other things I really like about it are the group fitness classes. They have exclusive rights in Hastings to Les Mills classes and body pump is one of my favourite things to do at the gym.

Jamie's wife Erin takes classes as does Jamie, Dwayne and other instructors whose names I don't know.

Erin usually takes the 6am pump classes I go to. I admire the way she stands up in front of all these men and women so early in the morning , greets us with a cheery Good morning everyone ... nine times out of 10 no one says a word back to her but she smiles and carries on. I wonder what motivates her?

I have been very fickle with my gym attendance of late. I started with a hiss and a roar going four to five days a week, sometimes six. That lasted for about a year then I started making excuses. I was too busy; it was too cold or too hot. I'd go three times in a week, and then twice in a week then miss a week. I find it really hard to motivate myself sometimes.

I asked a couple of members who I know have been going for years what motivates them to keep going to the gym, week after week, year after year.

They both agreed that the people they meet at the gym and the owner were big drawcards.

I do shift work and have a very stressful job, one of them said. I don't think I could cope without going to the gym. It gives me energy and helps me de-stress, she said.

The other said she sets herself goals and challenges and going to the gym was part of her everyday life. It's like a habit. I sit at a desk all day. Going to the gym is a lifestyle choice.

I know top athletes need much more than just motivation to succeed; they need talent, commitment, drive and support from those nearest and dearest.

I'm always inspired and motivated when I'm at the gym and I feel great after a class or a workout. Trouble is I'm really good at making excuses for myself. Perhaps I'll get some ideas from Sophie.

Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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