Fitness professionals are fighting a war on obesity, inactivity and apathy toward health and wellness. As a manager/owner, you’re on the front line of this massive movement. You’re expected to be positive and full of bright ideas while you pave the way to sustainable behavior change. This requires copious amounts of energy on a daily basis, which is hard to maintain. What if you could find a formula that would help you stay consistently motivated and energized, ready to Inspire the World to Fitness®?

Learn the Formula

The following secret formula comes from Dave Durand, the author of Perpetual Motivation (Crossroad 2010). Durand doesn’t believe that working long hours or expending more energy leads to success. Instead, success is a combination of a few simple ingredients. Here’s how Durand presents his formula in Perpetual Motivation:

Motivation = B + I + (C + H) – RSE

Let’s take a look at each ingredient.

Perpetual motivation = [Balance + Integrity-Based Influence + (Creativity + Humor)]
Runaway Self-Esteem

Balance, which comes from finding mental and emotional stability, is essential. You must meet your challenges head on, which requires a wellspring of energy. Contemplation becomes essential to determining where your energy is placed, or which battles to choose!

Begin with a “red velvet rope” policy. The RVR is made up of the values and qualities, as opposed to circumstances and behaviors, your ideal clients possess that enable you to do your best work. Work hard to keep these clients and eliminate the rest. You’d be amazed how invoking a RVR will change your level of motivation on a daily basis.

Here’s another formula: Energy + Effort + Focus = Balance. Assess how your daily actions contribute to the bigger picture. Move beyond the perfect to-do list, and find a productivity philosophy that aligns with what you need to do. Work smarter, not harder.

Being a perfectionist can affect your balance. It’s fine to pursue perfection, which is different from achieving it. When fitness professionals are new to teaching group fitness, they start with the perfect experience in mind. However, no one should expect to teach perfectly in the beginning. Perfection is a guideline. Define perfection for each format, then search for it and measure it.

Finally, because life is unpredictable, you must learn to “surf.” Being able to change and adapt will keep you motivated, but you must be prepared. Know your craft, and be alert so that you can be nimble.

Integrity-Based Influence

Staying motivated requires you to be influential, but with integrity. Treat people, including yourself, as subjects, not as objects. When you approach others with fascination and possibility, you find less disappointment and more enjoyment.

Here are Durand’s seven strategies for integrity-based influence:

  1. Keep your emotions on a leash. When you control your own emotions, you influence yourself positively, which allows you to influence others positively. Of course, negative emotions will arise while you’re managing a team. However, you can learn to analyze negative emotions, know what is within your control and what is not—and move forward from there.
  2. Use harmony and conviction. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. This congruence sometimes escapes managers, who often want to be popular instead of right. Our industry rewards the performer, but the best performer may not have the right message. Educate yourself, craft your message with conviction and be confident. This will influence your staff and facility members positively while stoking your motivation.
  3. Anticipate challenges and opportunities. Always be on the lookout for obstacles. Be prepared, not pessimistic. By anticipating potential pitfalls, you can craft tools that will help you stay motivated.
  4. Be consistent. If you want to be respected, avoid changing your stance on an issue. That doesn’t mean your position won’t evolve, but you should always be able to connect the dots! Find a place to stand; then show up and be present. You don’t have to be controversial to be influential. You just have to be.
  5. Engage in healthy competition. Healthy competition begins inside of you, so compete with yourself to be the best manager you can be. Know the right time, place and reason to compete with others. Competition is essential to staying motivated. Improvement fuels motivation, whereas winning is fueled by envy, greed or jealousy.
  6. Focus on character. Character defines who you really are as a person, as opposed to your reputation. Project an image that is consistent with your character.
  7. Cultivate courage. When you’re focused on and enthusiastic about your journey, fear is eliminated. Overcoming fear takes courage.

The best way to develop integrity-based influence is to communicate with others in the industry, both inside and outside your little bubble. Be motivated by what we all stand for, and develop your own non-negotiables and core values in your area of expertise. Finally, set external standards that allow you to measure your current state and your forward progress. Constantly seeking improvement fuels growth, which keeps you motivated!

Creativity + Humor

Creativity and humor go hand in hand and are essential to motivation. The path leading to strategic growth, as we’ve discussed, requires contemplation and planning, which can be very serious. Creativity reveals solutions, and humor keeps you humble.

The creativity that aids in motivation isn’t necessarily the same type of creativity that’s associated with being artistic, and it doesn’t need to take a ton of time. It does, however, require you to tap into your version of “think tanking”—which may be out-of-the-box thinking, but it may also be analytical. Set aside time for creative thinking, and never settle for “good enough.”

Humor, much like creativity, isn’t something you have or don’t have. Find what’s funny in everyday occurrences, and invite staff (including yourself) to make mistakes. Share your thoughts and feelings with others, accept people and create connections. Connection drives motivation. Even though your work is important, try hard not to take yourself too seriously!

Runaway Self-Esteem

Runaway self-esteem is one thing that must be eliminated if you’re going to stay motivated. High self-esteem should be a result of positive actions measured by external standards, not by your own standards. Seek opportunities to put yourself to the test. Identify the standards and understand who makes them (or should make them); then work with them or find objective ways to hold yourself accountable.

Side-step runaway self-esteem by shifting your focus to serving others. Try this:

  • Focus on what’s important about your work. What tangible results do you provide? Do these results contribute to society or the world in a larger way? Get clear about the relevance of your work, and stay connected to the bigger picture so you remain grounded.
  • Figure out who decides what’s important about your work and who will notice. Who are the stakeholders who are currently benefitting from your work or could benefit? How do they know about you? Identify how your work “lands” to keep it in perspective.
  • Who will let you know you’ve produced the results or gotten it right? How will you know? How often will you notice?
  • Determine how to stay accountable. Constant assessment provides opportunity for small adjustments to keep you on the path.
  • The secret to motivation is no secret at all. Find your balance, use integrity to influence others, add a dose of creativity and humor and be sure you drive looking forward rather than looking in the rearview mirror. You’re a critical component in the fight to enhance the health and well-being of the nation. Work a bit every day to stay motivated!

Reflecting on the Framework

Motivation is internal and always present. However, being able to tap into it requires that you align your purpose with your passion and your efforts as you shape your next achievement. Motivation hinges on consistent, incremental growth with purpose.

Let’s reflect on a few questions to help set your trajectory:

Step 1: Identify your reasons for being a fitness manager.

  • Why did you get started with fitness?
  • What motivates you to stay in the industry?
  • What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Step 2: Determine where you are right now.

  • What made you choose your current path?
  • Do you believe you’re doing your best work with people you were meant to serve?

Step 3: Consider where you want to end up.

  • What’s your dream job?
  • How would you know if you found it?

Step 4: Create your path from here to there.

  • Identify the skills and resources you need in order to get to the finish line. When you know where your gaps are, create a game plan. Do you need to learn more, relocate, find time or buy a new computer? Put it all on paper, no matter how big or small.
  • Set clear, growth-oriented goals, and put your resources in order. What do you need now that will lead to the next step? Make each step small and achievable to bolster your confidence.
  • Get rid of anything that doesn’t serve you. Be discerning, and eliminate everything that’s holding you back (people, situations, tasks, responsibilities). This frees up space that helps you stay motivated!
  • Find people to go with you. Is your current environment suited for your continued forward progress? Are your colleagues on a similar path? Find a “place” to call home, where you can lean on other folks who are on a similar journey. It’s important to be in the right place with the right people.

Shannon Fable

Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is a sought after speaker, author, and thought leader in business development and strategic innovation. She has spent more than two decades helping impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn®, Power Systems, ACE, Silver Sneakers, FIT4MOM and BOSU®. Fable served as Chair of the ACE Board of Directors, co-founded GroupEx PRO®, and is the Director of Content & Production Strategy for Intelivideo. As a certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach, she helps fit pros navigate the industry to build scalable and sustainable businesses.

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