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Definitions

Extrinsic motivators: Motivators that involve an external reward or a goal.

Intrinsic motivators: Enjoyment derived from exercising, independent of any external reward.

Most human behaviour is not intrinsically motivated, initially. The impetus for someone to start exercising is commonly driven by extrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivators can be viewed on continuum from a selfless to self-centered scale. This is not a value statement but rather a tool to better appreciate what motivates the client. (Note: motivators evolve and are updated over time.)

·      At the selfless end, an example would be “My motivation: I do not want to be a burden to my family or the healthcare system.”

·      At the purely self-centered end of the continuum, an example would be “My motivation: to look great in those new dress pants…”

Both are extrinsic motivators. This type of motivation is important to identify because it can help direct you in the management of your client. Encouraging the move from purely extrinsic motivation to a blend of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can improve your client's chance of success.   

To understand this better we provide a few essentials:

Pro Point #1

Identify in detail the extrinsic motivators that are the drivers for your client.

Pro Point #2

Be cognizant of (and briefly review) motivators prior to each client interaction. This is the foundation of habit formation. A quick review of your client's motivation will help you to better frame your messaging to that client. Specifically targeting your support to address your client's motivation allows messaging to speak more personally to the client.

Pro Point #3

Introduce your clients to "intrinsic motivation". In other words, ask your clients to reflect on how they feel during their workout. Extrinsic motivation often has a limited shelf life!! If your client feels good while exercising, this is can become motivation enough to keep doing it (regardless of external circumstances). Once your clients begin to feel more comfortable exercising, that feeling will eventually become the driver to continue exercising. This increases your client's chance of long term success. 

 

Summary

Identify & detail the extrinsic motivation in your client’s profile, their initial drivers for starting to become active. Then, prior to the next interaction with your client, quickly review both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. 

·      Make sure you introduce your client to the kind of intrinsic motivation that can be easily adopted. For example, asking your clients to note their mood before, during, and after exercise can help them recognise the positive impact of exercise. There should be no attempt made to replace extrinsic motivation. Rather, intrinsic motivation should be developed in addition to extrinsic motivation.   

If motivation is identified and properly utilised when a client starts to exercise, the transition to a regular fitness routine will be much smoother. 

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