Do you believe motivation comes from within?

Or do you look to others to motivate you?

As a personal trainer, I was surprised to notice a strong connection in my clients between their ability find internal ways to motivate themselves, and their success to create a long-term fitness habit.

People reach out to me for motivation and accountability, and while I am certainly a pro when it comes to accountability (as my clients can attest), the motivation piece has always made me wonder: can it really come from external sources? Or is it an internal construct?


Motivation gets you started, but routine gets you going


The motivation to achieve your fitness goalsWhen I started my personal training business, I did it because I wanted to help my clients create sustainable fitness routines and teach them how to exercise with proper form. This was my motivation to get started, and to eventually do a complete career switch from marketing project manager, to personal trainer.

Soon, however, I recognized it wasn’t enough just to have a purpose – it also needed to be backed off with actions.

To reach the goals that motivate you, you have to do the work!

I created a weekly task list, and, one by one, checked off the items on my list.

Did I feel like doing everything on there? Nope! But I knew that if I waited for the stars to align, for inspiration, or some magical pixie dust to do things, my business wouldn’t go anywhere.

The key, just like Nike keeps telling us, is to just do it!

James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits says is quite nicely:


Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

The most practical way to change WHO you are is to change WHAT you do.


Here is a fantastic blog post by James Clear on How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. He talks about fitness in there too!


Look for motivation internally, and for inspiration externally


“I think we get inspiration externally, but motivation ultimately comes from within. As coaches we can inspire others through external stimuli: education, encouragement, accountability… but the motivation is deeply attached to behaviour which has to come from within in order to be powerful enough to create change” says Teresa Ojinma, Personal Trainer and Owner of Home Fitness Plus.

Beautifully said! Those around you can inspire you, your trainer can give you the tools to succeed, but ultimately it’s up to you to choose to put all of that into practice.


Use subject matter expertise when learning new things


Weight trainingEducation, encouragement, and accountability can be powerful tools to create exercise routines when you’re first starting out – this is where some people choose to work with personal trainers.

Kathy Wagner, one of my long time clients, and owner of Content Strategy Inc, sums up when it might make sense to consider tapping in to a trainer’s knowledge:

“Personally, I need to have internal motivation or nothing happens; but a trainer is important to me for external motivation/accountability and subject matter expertise when learning new things, building new habits, and meeting specific and challenging goals.”

Using a personal trainer when you first start out can help you gain that clarity of purpose, and the encouragement to keep going as you create new habits. If you want to go that route, check out my blog post on what to look for when hiring a personal trainer.


How can YOU motivate yourself to reach your fitness goals?


Fitness goalsDefine a strong WHY. Your WHY is your purpose. It’s the reason you committed to doing the work. One of my clients also calls them “aspirations” – what do you aspire to be able to do? And how does fitness play a part of that? When you have a strong purpose, each individual workout has meaning as a piece of a greater whole. Without a strong purpose, it’s easy to start thinking of your routines as a chore.


Commit to doing the work. Creating a fitness habit and seeing results will not happen in one month, or maybe even in 3 months. You need to be patient, persistent, and find ways to enjoy the journey, knowing you are building a life-long habit of movement. Here is a great related blog post with some practical ideas on how you can build a routine of physical activity into your life.


Don’t wait for things to be “perfect”. If you hinge your success on the weather, having enough time, or whether you feel motivated, you’ll never create a habit. This goes for anything not just fitness. Accept that everyone faces these limitations, and prioritize your movement. Adapt based on the circumstances, but continue to put one foot in front of the other – literally and figuratively!


Work with a trainer. Hiring a personal trainer that’s a good fit will provide you with the tools and resources to accelerate your ability to create that new routine. I emphasize a good fit because building a relationship based on trust with your trainer is crucial (for example, here is what I look for in my clients). Remember: a trainer can guide and inspire you; however, they can never be a substitute for your internal motivation to pursue your goals.


Personalize your approach to fitness. Use trial and error. Be open to things not working out, and others feeling more natural than others. Check out this blog post on how to personalize your definition of fitness.

And that’s it! Now go out there and crush your goals 🙂


Let’s work together

Mobile personal trainingI love working with people who are ready and committed to making long term changes in their lives.

My clients:

  • Are curious about their body and want to learn its inner workings
  • Are willing to commit the patience and time it will take to see long-lasting results
  • Want to build strength and stamina so they can do whatever life things they want to be doing

Does that sound like you?

Let’s get started!