Identity, purpose and motivation
Ok so you’re training, you’re keeping consistent and you’re enjoying this whole fitness thing. But
it’s not fully integrated into your lifestyle and this shit is hard. How do you keep the ball rolling?
How do you keep the motivation up?
I tell most of my clients, especially those who have a history of fitness peaks and troughs to give
themselves praise for the things they have achieved. I ask them to sit and think about the subtle
yet extremely important benefits their fitness journey so far has brought them.
For example: How are your energy levels these days? On the whole, do you feel more alert? Do
you feel less lethargic? More focused mentally at work? Despite the soreness from training do
you feel more mobile and able to move around that little bit easier?
These are just a handful of some of the most valuable yet most overlooked benefits of exercise,
however it is FRIGHTENING just how many people undergo prolonged periods without
experiencing any of these benefits! The further into your fitness journey you go, the more you’ll
look back on those pre-fitness days with horror! Now you’ve seen the light and experienced this
new more energetic, pain free life, you should be thinking “no f***ing way am I EVER going back
to living like that again.” Furthermore think just how much this is going to benefit you later down
the line. 60 even 70 years old isn’t OLD old and you really shouldn’t be (barring a major
incident) rolling around in a wheelchair and struggling to get off the throne at this point. I
certainly hope I’m not wheezy and immobile at this stage of my life anyway!
Some people may read this and say “well that’s ok for the younger crowd, but I’m already
verging on that age...I’ve left it too late”... No. You haven’t, so let me help you banish that
negativity. Health and fitness can be improved regardless of age. Age is no excuse for letting
your body rot and there are hundreds of brilliant case studies out there which demonstrate this
point. Take a look at some masters level CrossFitters, for example. I attended a masters only
CrossFIt competition called ‘Raising the Bar’ last year, which included categories for 50, 55 and
65+ year olds, many of whom confessed they only began training 2 years prior to the
competition in question. The same people also admitted to having been sedentary for most of
their lives, but as a result of taking up exercise were now healthier at 55 than they were at 35.
There really is no excuse.
Let’s now get back to my main point, how do you stick at it to achieve like these guys have?
How did those masters at Raising the bar manage to stay consistently motivated!? I’ll tell you
how… It just became part of their IDENTITY. An initial leap of faith into a CrossFit membership,
a PT, bootcamp, or whatever meant they had to show a bit of discipline and patience before
REAL improvements of health could be seen. They had all experienced a moment of clarity
when they realised that their new lifestyle was no longer something they had to think about -
they just got on and did it.
For some this may be a sudden sobering moment, for others it maybe a more gradual process
of awareness. It’s at this point fitness becomes part of your identity. Awesome! Mission
accomplished right? Nope, unfortunately like happiness, it’s not a fixed state of play. Old habits
die hard - laziness, complacency and lethargy don’t just vanish into thin air. Put it this way, The
Great Wall of China didn’t stop the Mongols from trying to invade altogether, and had the wall
not been manned and continuously maintained it would have ultimately failed to serve its
purpose of protecting China. Anyway, enough of the history lesson, my point is, IDENTITY is
your wall, PURPOSE is the manning and the maintenance of the wall. It’s purpose that keeps
you coming back to make sure everything is in check. Essentially they are coexistent variables.
What is purpose then!? Simple, it’s why you’re doing all this. However, purpose doesn’t have to
be singular in nature, it may start out this way (i.e. simply wanting to be healthier), but the more
ingrained into your identity fitness becomes, the more purpose starts to evolve. Soon it might be
‘stay healthy, improve posture, lift 100kg on a deadlift, run a 10km in under 50 minutes and
lower body fat by x%’.
Ok, so we’ve outlined some of the major long-term health benefits of regular exercise and we’ve
covered identity and purpose, but we’re back to that same old gripe again… money. Having a
PT can be costly at times, however to quote a coach I follow on instagram (and hopefully he’ll
know who he is once he reads this!), “Investing in your health and staying healthy costs money,
but it’s much more expensive to be sick.” What a great line. NAILED! IT!
Of course, we can only tell you this, you’re the one who has to go ahead and make that
transaction, and when you’re ready, when you’re truly serious about achieving sustainable
results, you’ll just say “f*** it” and make that leap of faith. Hopefully you’ll have someone to
guide you on your way to finding purpose and making fitness a priority and part of your identity.
However, it’s not the only way. Having a coach is ace and it certainly saves a lot of time and
stress sorting your fitness routine out. It also really helps you stay motivated, but If you wish to
go all lone wolf on this and not spend a penny, it’s definitely doable. If this is your desired route,
good luck to you. Be cheeky, ask for resources, download as much free content as you can,
pick people’s brains for knowledge - talk to me if you if you really want! Just note, that is
hardcore mode and requires a thirst for knowledge to make it really worthwhile and effective.
Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy digging out information on fitness so much you’ll end up
wanting to train people yourself! Maybe you’ll end up sat in a flat in central Manchester blogging
about it all!