Why do some people go to the gym, to lift weights and generally keep fit. What are their motivations and reasons, why they keep it up and why do some people quit?
There are two main reasons why people start going the gym. They want to improve their health and/or looks/aesthetics. Both reasons are actually connected more than most people think, however improving aesthetics is probably the most common reason, whether it be increasing muscle mass and/or reducing body fat.
These two reasons, especially aesthetics maybe the reason why many people start going to the gym, however these reasons alone will not keep most people motivated for very long. It just isn’t a strong enough reason, there has to be something more, something deeper.
Some people perceive us workout & fitness lovers in a sometimes negative light. Like perceiving someone as being vein and narcissistic, this can be true with some of the casual gym users, however this is mostly an ignorant judgment, especially for those of us that have a long term, lifelong passion for keeping fit and active. Simply stated they don’t understand us.
There is a personality trait called orderliness which is connected to the motivations of seeking perfection, symmetry and being obsessive compulsive. This trait is also linked to being high in the emotion of disgust, you could link this to not liking body fat. This trait is actually a big reason why some people remain dedicated to fitness all of their lives.
Plus going to the gym to look good isn’t really comparable to wearing make up, getting plastic surgery or wearing tight fitting cloths, because unlike those, going to the gym is actually healthy for your body, and it’s also good for your mental health.
Why are some people dedicated to keeping fit?
Some people, including myself keep training and eat well most of the time. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, or what the weather is like, we keep hitting the weights, treadmill and maintain a sensible diet (mostly). Even on holidays or even during a mild sickness I will still workout. I usually train less in these circumstances but I still train, even if it’s just light workout a couple of times a week.
Aesthetics is still part of it, however the focus is more inner directed, we do it for ourselves first, other people’s judgments about how we look is secondary. This is one of the main differences between the people that give it up and the people that make it apart of their lives. Many are more concerned with their own opinions of themselves rather than the opinions of others.
This inner directed focus is far more motivating and it’s a far deeper reason than just trying to look good for other people and trying to impress them.
The majority of people focus on quick fixes, quick ways the feel good. Modern western society and companies are catering to this desire for instant gratification and instant results, with things like weight loss pills, anti depressants and various other drugs designed for quick results and quick ways to feel good.
Exercise makes us feel good, however the benefits come later, whether it’s an hour after your workout or months later after benefiting from the results, it’s all delayed gratification. So the people like me that keep going week after week have a stronger focus on delayed gratification, rather than the majority of people that mostly seek instant gratification.
This is also connected to the above delayed gratification and being mindful of how we will feel in the future. Maintaining our health is a great way to make our futures better.
Our bodies are the greatest possessions that we will ever own and it makes sense to look after it. This is a logical and rational way of thinking, it comes down to individual priorities and personality types.
Addiction to training happens when you see the results and the improvements and you have a desire to keep on improving. When this happens the thought of quitting is difficult to except and it actually makes you feel bad, so the only way to avoid feeling bad is to hit the gym again.
Being Physically Capable
We tend to love things that we are good at. Someone may have a naturally gifted mind for mathematics and they may develop a passion for it. However some of us are gifted physically and when people start to tap into that gift they begin to love it, and they want to see how far that gift goes.
A passion develops for being physically capable and testing and challenging those capabilities. This reason also links to addiction.
- Naturally being very competitive.
- To maintain status and attractiveness. This is connected to wanting power.