Ask the Trainer: How Do I Maintain Motivation?

By Allen Gardner

Allen is in his second year as a professional triathlete and trains out of Boulder, Colo. Pharmaca sponsors Allen, 26, who competes in 12-14 triathlons around the country each year.

Motivation (noun): Initiating and maintaining a path of goals over a given period of time. It’s the key to waking up in the morning, it’s the drive to be successful and it’s the one thing that keeps people going. It’s easy to have the initial excitement that comes with a new workout goal or seeing progress. The hard part is maintaining motivation.

When it comes to fitness, New Year’s is the most common time for goal setting and has the highest membership enrollment and usage at health clubs. When February rolls around, however, usage drops more than 20 percent and continues to drop over the next few months.

The people that are most likely to drop their membership are the ones with no tangible goals. They often want to lose weight or gain muscle, but can’t offer a real reason why they do. Goals in fitness need to be concrete and have well thought out reasoning behind them. Why are you training? What are you training for?

When creating a fitness goal, I recommend filling in the blanks below:

My training goal is to _________________. I want to achieve this goal because it will  ________________.


  • Goal: Weight Loss
  • How much: 10 pounds
  • Why: I will be able to play with my kids more, have more energy, and will feel more confident about myself
  • Time Frame: Four months
  • Benchmarks: Monthly weigh-ins
  • How I will achieve my goal: With the help of a personal trainer and a healthy eating nutrition plan.

So the question is, how do you stop yourself from becoming one of those gym-avoiding statistics? With concrete goals and a support team (trainer, nutritionist, family and friends) you’ll have better odds of making it.

Some other ideas:

  • Find a friend to work out with you—since you’re much more likely to keep up with your workout if someone’s keeping you accountable
  • Set realistic goals—don’t go overboard and burn yourself out (or worse, hurt yourself!)
  • Get into a routine—knowing that Monday’s reserved for weight lifting and Saturday mornings for bike rides helps relieve the stress of trying to find the time to workout
  • Keep track of your progress—so you can see your encouraging results! Try apps like Nike+ or My Fitness Pal.

I personally view motivation and success as one in the same—motivation is what leads to success. In Richard St. John’s 2006 TED talk he described the path of success in the following eight words: Passion, Work, Focus, Persist, Ideas, Good, Push, Serve. Keeping these concepts in mind may offer help in maintaining a high level of motivation.

But don’t forget that YOU must take responsibility for your goals and plan to achieve them. And remember why you’re doing it. Self doubt is normal, but you can easily overcome it with written, tangible and reachable goals.

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