What a rubber chicken teaches you about motivation

My first experience in a weight room was awful.

Mr. Stock, my high school softball coach, schlepped us all down to the weight room one day at the start of practice to record our three rep max on the bench press.

I knew nothing about the weight room, except that it was on the far end of the high school, smelled like dirty socks and sweaty boys, and was covered with lifting records of the high school football players. 

We elbowed one another and pointed at boys lifting while Mr. Stock lined us up by the bench press machine (we weren't using free weights). When my turn came, my coach had clearly overestimated how much I could lift. 

The handles moved two inches before I called uncle.

So he dropped the weight, with the same results. 

I don't think I even pressed 35 pounds. 

But in those 15 minutes in the weight room, I came to some conclusions:

I had no upper body strength 

I sucked at lifting weights.

And I never wanted to set foot in a weight room again. 

It would be almost 20 years before I walked into another weight room. 

I feel very fortunate that most of my association with physical activity has been positive. I was an athletic kid, loved being active, and when my time playing collegiate sports came to an end, it was natural for me to continue physical activity. 

That positive experience continues to motivate me to work out. I know I'll feel better after working out, which makes it easier, though not always easy, to motivate myself.

The reason I walked back into another weight room? My friend Will challenged me to give it another try, and with his help, I developed a positive association with it. That positive association helped to motivate me. 

So many folks struggle with motivation - and people ask us all of the time what they can do to be more motivated. Sure they want to lose weight, the doctor tells them they need to, they want to drop a few pant sizes - but if exercise is always viewed as a negative, chore based activity, they're going to continue the cycle of failure. 

What is it then, that will make exercise and working out a more positive experience and less of a chore based activity? 

It depends on the person I guess. 

But I can tell you what I've seen that works. 

Community. You might not like to work out, but if you love seeing your friends at the gym, you'll be more likely to show up. Also, they're looking for you at your workout and you don't want to let them down. 

Accountability. Knowing that your coach is looking for you and that if you don't show up, that coach is going to wonder where you are. 


I think this last one might be the biggest one of all. One client described her time at Spurling as recess. You jump around, you dance, you throw rubber chickens, and you laugh. 

A lot. 

If you can find a team of people that can make working out more enjoyable, I'm willing to be you'll find the motivation to get there. 

Be strong. Be Kind. Have fun.