Here’s the secret to exercise motivation: there isn’t one. Michelle Bridges taught me this when I met her a couple of weeks ago. Crushing, isn’t it? But in a way it’s also quite freeing. And it could be the missing link when it comes to understanding why so many Australians don’t exercise enough or even at all. Clearly, we need to stop waiting around for some magic motivational bullet to propel us off our bums and into a Pilates class. Not going to happen.
If you described Michelle Bridges as Australia’s most famous and successful trainer, you’d probably be right. Via her programs, she claims to have helped strip 100,000 unwanted kilograms of weight off Australian bodies. She’s also a bit like a cult leader because it’s impossible to meet her and not come under her energetic spell. This happened to me recently during a function where Michelle was one of the panellists and I was MC.
It was a breakfast event so at 6:45am, I couldn’t even state my name with complete certainty but she was glowing as she towered over me in the most incredible shoes you’ve ever seen. In fact she was quite incandescent with energy and enthusiasm and….zest. Verve. Zing. Pizazz. She fizzed, like champagne washed down with espresso. But that’s not even the most interesting part. What Michelle got me thinking about that morning was the myth of motivation.
As the panel discussed some research into how many Australians are overweight, the subject of how to change people’s behaviour came up and I directed a question to Michelle: “How do we motivate ourselves to exercise? What’s the secret?”
Her answer was surprising.
Basically, Michelle thinks the idea of motivation is bullshit. I’m paraphrasing because her mouth is not as potty-ish as mine but that’s her basic view.
Like the rest of us, Michelle doesn’t adore exercise when she’s doing it and she doesn’t particularly look forward to it. And it’s this myth – that we should LOVE exercise and be inspired to do it – that so many of us use as an excuse not to.
Michelle says she’s asked about motivation all the time because people assume she is a motivation machine. But she’s not. “I don’t wake up, pump my fist in the air and go ‘YES! I’M GOING RUNNING! RUNNING! YESSSSSSS!'” she insists. Just like she doesn’t wake up and go “YES! I’M HAVING A SHOWER AND BRUSHING MY TEETH.” Or “YES! I HAVE A DENTIST APPOINTMENT!” It’s just what she does.
If you wait for motivation to magically appear? You’ll still be sprawled on your couch watching The Real Housewives in a decade.
The clouds do not part. Inspiration does not strike. You will probably never be overcome by the urge to exercise. You. Just. Do. It.