It comes in all shapes and sizes…..

We could be talking about many things by the title of this post, but I’m thinking about motivation…….What motivates you?  What motivates me?  What motivates that person down the hall?  As a personal trainer and a group exercise instructor, I always find myself trying (struggling) to figure out exactly how to create a desire in others to accomplish their goals or just get their bottoms off the darn couch.

An “interesting” thing happened to me today.  I’ve been teaching Spinning classes in gyms from coast to coast for (gulp!) 12 years now.  Wow!  That’s a long time!  Today was no different than any other day as I mounted the bike for my Wednesday morning class.  It was a full class.  Full of people I have the pleasure to ride with almost every week.  The best thing about this particular group of people is that they are NOTHING alike.  They range in age from mid-twenties to early-seventies.  From Ironman athletes to grandmothers who probably can’t remember the last time they actually mounted a two-wheeler.  What they have in common is the amazing ability to work hard, no matter what their limitations.

Today’s class consisted of 4-10 minute segments of out-of-the-saddle climbing:  5 minutes of good ‘ol climbing followed by 5-15 second intervals at the top of the last 5 minutes of the segment.  Yup!  The entire class was spent out of the saddle.  You gotta love it!  I love this workout because it really challenges people to come to terms with the fact that they can get “comfortable” out of the saddle for long periods of time.  I try to explain that I’m just trying to give their bottoms a break, but it usually falls on deaf ears.

There was a good vibe today.  The energy was flowing and I was feeding off of it.  I continually challenged everyone to push through and maintain their position out of the saddle.  When we finished, we gave each other a round of applause and took to the saddle to spin out our tired legs.  It was solid.  It felt good…… I thought.

After visiting with a few members on my way out the door, I was pulled aside by a stalwart member of the Wednesday morning club.  He had kind words regarding my classes, except for today and some of the “negative comments” I had used.  Ugh!  My heart skipped a beat and I had to refrain from letting my jaw hit the floor.  I heard him out and realized that in my moments of riding the vibe of the class, I may have let the balance slip just a bit.  He felt that maybe my “encouragement” to maintain and out-of-the-saddle position was negative to some members of the class who may not have the ability to keep up.  Of course, I always expect and usually remind people to work within their limits and use my cues as a guide to developing their own workout.  Apparently I did not do a very good job with that today.

What I found interesting, is that he noted how the butt-kicking punishment is a huge motivator for him, but he felt concern for other members of the class.  I, myself, did not notice anyone struggling to the point that I would be concerned (I always try to stay aware of what is going on……vibe or no vibe).  I was definitely plugged in, but maybe a little too much.

All in all, this was an enlightening conversation for me.  My perfectionist-personality reared it’s ugly head as I struggled to convince myself that I am not a horrible instructor, but that I may just need to pull back sometimes.  I thought about motivation and how to motivate individuals when faced with so many different personalities in a single situation.  It made me reflect on myself and what motivates me.  It has caused me to want to  be a better instructor (even though that red personality in me is screaming for perfection at all costs).

I’m so glad for this conversation today.  It was probably as hard for this member of my class to approach me, as it was for me to accept his constructive criticism.  I find myself oddly motivated to be better, more aware!  So, what motivates you?  Maybe more importantly, what crosses the line from being motivating to just plain defeating?  If we can find the answers to these questions, we win the battle over ourselves.  With these answers, we would never lack for motivation and we would probably be able to take many others along with us.

Motivation or no motivation:  Go workout!  Find your vibe and plug in……..Regardless of what ANYONE, including that insensitive Spinning instructor has to say 😉


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