Facebook Pixel
Brookbush Institute Logo

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Key Factors in Motivational Development

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: Key Factors in Motivational Development

What are the factors for enhancing motivational development, and how can they be implemented in to a personal training program? Thank you to Erin McGill for the idea for this week’s discussion.

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on July 6th, 2010.

Rolando Garcia, July 6, 2010 at 10:05am: First into the fray: first thing would be to show that the goal is within the realm of possibility. Show the plan, details and avenues, and how goal achievement is an inevitability. Then propose goal beyond current goal, with its own plans.

I've done this for years, and my clients have been with me since.

Marty Miller, July 6, 2010 at 11:12am. I will keep it simple at this point, as personal trainers we must find what I call their "emotional teddy bear". Meaning why are they truly there. Do they have a wedding coming up, did they get a scare from their doctor, do they have a competition they are trying to get ready for? Once you know why they are there it is much easier to find common ground, establish rapport, trust, and you can use that "emotional teddy bear" to keep them on track with their goals.

Brent Brookbush, July 6, 2010 at 11:28am: I agree 100 percent with goal development as a key to motivational development. Research study after research study has supported this simple strategy, and has done much to refine our approach to setting goals. A simple evidence based approach, involves setting a long-term goal, several intermittent or short term goals, followed by behavioral goals that will make those goals happen.

Matt Schoeneberger, July 6, 2010 at 11:42am: Compelling Vision. It's similar to Marty's teddy bear, but involves the client actually visualizing what it will be like to be in that moment. I ask client what they daydream about when they think about their fitness goals… that's their vision.

Do we like SMART or SCAMPI goals?

McGill! How are you?

Erin McGill, July 6, 2010 at 11:58am: Enhancing motivation is obviously a critical component to our responsibilities as fitness professionals to not only improve client success but also improve our professional abilities as trainers. I am in absolute agreement with the influential role goal setting has on whether clients will achieve results or not. One potential problem however is how we, as trainers, often rely on physical and more tangible components in goal setting such as completing cardio requirements, compliance with nutrition guidelines, etc. We have to remember that a client's behavior is only one component of their multi-faceted personality and other items such as cognition, affect, and interpersonal influence should be taken into account not only when setting goals and enhancing motivation, but also in our intervention strategies.

Hey, Matt! Great to see you on here!

Derrick Price, July 6, 2010 at 11:58am: Establishing goals, creating vision, all great stuff! But how do we get people to continue to work towards their vision and goals, outside of the hour we get to train them? Many people want to lose weight in our society (goal) and they may envision themselves at this goal but this sometimes is not enough to motivate a person to do the necessary changes to their life to achieve their goal. What might be preventing their internal motivation from surfacing? How do we tap into this internal motivation? How can we help people take action on their motivation?

Most of us in the fitness industry are very easily motivated and we have no trouble taking action by simply establishing a goal. The common person however struggles with this so how can we help THEM!?

Marty Miller, July 6, 2010 at 12:04pm: DP, I agree with you. And that is why I try to find out very early on truly why they are there. Most people including us as professionals have some sort of emotional baggage in a sense as it pertains to why we do or do not follow an exercise program. It is pretty clear most of us will do our best to stay away from the negative and try to stay towards the positive in life. If we can find out the root cause of what makes the person tick as it comes to good or bad health behaviors it will be easier for us to keep them on track.

Brent Brookbush, July 6, 2010 at 12:05pm: Hey DP and Erin,

I think you both hit on a very important, and often overlooked component of motivation development - Intrinsic Motivation Vs. Extrinsic Regulation. A couple of key research studies I have read noted that recreational activity was more intrinsically motivated than structured workouts, and further the Ryan and Deci model provides insight on how one may move from extrinsic to intrinsically motivated… we should consider this "continuum" in our practice.

Matt Schoeneberger, July 6, 2010 at 12:07pm: At what point do the barriers that hold someone back become outside the realm of a personal trainer's capabilities? The goal-setting and visualization techniques should help elicit action from clients who are ready, who have intrinsic motivation and just need help structuring it in the most productive way. If these techniques fail, how far do we go before we refer out?

Brent Brookbush, July 6, 2010 at 12:07pm: Hey Matt,

I think both acronym's are great. Can you remind our reader's what they stand for, and lets discuss what could be added to the acronym's to make them more powerful than they already are.

Matt Schoeneberger, July 6, 2010 at 12:15pm: SMART - specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-dependent.

SCAMPI - Specific, Challenging, Approach, Measurable, Proximal, Inspirational

I'm SMART all the way. While I like the terms of SCAMPI better, I think SMART is more easily retained by clients.

You can also add 'ER' to SMART:

E Evaluate Ethical, Excitable, Enjoyable, Engaging

R Reevaluate Rewarded, Reassess, Revisit, Recorded, Rewarding, Reaching

Erin McGill, July 6, 2010 at 12:30pm: Brent, going back to your reference of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, it might be worthwhile to discuss different ways in which trainers can enhance intrinsic motivation with clients. Knowing that intrinsic motivation refers to the completion of an activity for its own sake or purpose rather than an external influence can help guide the conversation.

For example, enhancing intrinsic motivation might be accomplished by simply engaging with a client and asking them how they think they would feel about themselves after having completed an entire week of compliance with workout and nutrition recommendations.

Brent Brookbush, July 6, 2010 at 12:39pm: Hey Erin and Matt,

I think your right about SMART versus SCAMPI… SMART does seem easier to remember. I really like SMARTER as well… I have also seen research that supports both "positive" and "written" as facets of good goal development. What do you think?

Hey Erin…. Right - Intrinsic motivation is motivation to do an activity for its own sake - in essence - because you want to, not because somebody else wants you to. I do think the inclusion of the Ryan and Deci - Self-Determination Theory is really powerful in this case. As trainers; understanding how to support the actions of clients without further increasing extrinsic regulation is vital. For example, rewarding good behavior is still extrinsic regulation, whereas, setting goals that are achieved is reinforcing the development of intrinsically regulated behavior.

Larry Husted, July 6, 2010 at 2:36pm: One factor I've noticed that affects motivation is consistency…Motivation tends to be like pouring water into a bucket with hole in it for most clients…Therefore, we as hired professionals must look to consistently locate our clients' "teddy bears" (whatever it may be that day) to increase their emotional momentum to give them a better chance of engaging in good behaviors the following day…And we must do this every time we interact with them…Giving someone a sincere compliment, asking them to visualize and mentally live that vision for a moment during their session, sending a client a random uplifting text message, showing them on paper where they started compared to where they are currently are just some of ways I've seen trainers refill their clients' buckets.

Rolando Garcia, July 6, 2010 at 10:33pm: Something else to consider is how much "lack" of motivation is actually a sign of the body protecting itself from further stress. Let's not forget that exercise, by and large, is a form of stress. When a client comes in unmotivated, we must consider the levels of stress they are dealing with IN TOTAL. We, as health and fitness professionals, must have the appropriate strategies to address this. And, I hate to say it, we have mostly high-threshold strategies, but no healing strategies lined up.

Stacy Schneider Madden, July 6, 2010 at 11:26pm

Nice one, LH. I like that!!

Brent Brookbush, July 6, 2010 at 11:31pm: Hey Larry,

This is a great point, but I think this analogy has one "hole"… namely plugging that "hole":-) What strategies can we utilize to arm our clients with the needed tools to prevent this leaking of motivational energy. A constant reminder, even when it is the emotional "teddy bear" is still extrinsic motivation and will only last as long as we are there to remind them. Any ideas?

Brent Brookbush, July 6, 2010 at 11:34pm: Great point Rolando,

Life has become more and more intense with the changes in economy, expectation, and expense. We do have to find a source of activity that is not only effective, but offers a release from the "total stress" of life. I am a big proponent of recreational activity, and will often create routines that support performance in that activity and recovery from common dysfunctions that arise that could prevent further participation.

Marco Ferdinandi, July 6, 2010 at 11:45pm: Hi all. Great discussion! Motivation to me is intrinsic. What is necessary is a Desire, a New vision and an Action plan to attain the vision. This is what i call the DNA of positive change. I think we as fitness professionals have to do our best to understand needs that will reinforce the desire, work as a coach to develop the new vision and lastly perform as the personal trainer to create and execute the Action plan.

The posts here have really got my creative juices flowing, great stuff!

Brent Brookbush, July 7, 2010 at 12:01am: Hey Marco,

Your post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes - "You're not lazy, you simply have not found goals compelling enough to inspire you" - Anthony Robbins.

Chris Gizzi, July 7, 2010 at 11:11am: Brent - thanks for getting me in the loop here.

Getting process focused seems to be the best way to tap this intrinsic vein, right?

Quick application--> Use a HR monitor (preferably one that reads HR variability) and visualize achieving success or receiving the outcome you desire. Get pumped up, excited, giddy, aroused, etc. Hopefully we are getting a good spike and eliciting the emotional ties that are keeping our passion burning. Extrinsic motivation isn't a bad thing and we can use it to bolster the intrinsic. Here's how we can create some linkage…

Now, use some deep deliberate breathing (lot of great techniques out there) to bring your HR down and transition from the mindset of hard focus on the end to a soft focus on just your current state of being. Staying present takes some effort, it's a lot easier when we know what it feels like. You can even go back and forth / up and down between the two.

I've found it to be a good exercise to acknowledge the extrinsic which is easy to feel, but also to create physical connections to the intrinsic which is not always as intuitive/natural.

Thanks for the platform Brent, appreciate the invite, all great stuff here - got me thinkin' this AM for sure!



Derrick Price, July 7, 2010 at 11:45am: Great posts! On the flip side, what are we doing as an industry that may be un-motivating to the average gym goers or exercise participant? I ask because the amount of people who drop off an exercise program or gym membership within the first1-3 months is depressingly high!

Brent Brookbush, July 7, 2010 at 4:27pm: Hey Chris,

No problem… it's an honor to have you participating. Thanks for the exercise, and a new perspective to our motivation discussion.

Brent Brookbush, July 7, 2010 at 4:29pm: Hey Derrick,

This is a really really great point you make. Often I get asked why I hate "The Biggest Loser" so much…. and the reason is the one you mention. I think that show turns off at least as many people as it inspires because everything is about hard and sacrifice, screaming, and often pain. No wonder we can't get more people to join the gym. If someone tried to sell me that stuff I'd run for the hills.

Lorrie Von Garlem Brewster, July 8, 2010 at 11:36am how do you approach clients that have the desire and even that teddy bear, but they truly believe they don't have the time and that either their job, family or other events always come first? They won't schedule the time as if it were an appointment, they won't put themselves first for an hour a day… how to you break through that kind of barrier? As soon as things get busy or hectic, all of efforts on working out and/or dieting come to a screeching halt. Drive-throughs are hit, workouts are not. How do we help clients build in that consistency and a mind set, so that their diet and exercise routine be the first thing to get scratched off the calendar that day, that ends up being scratched off for weeks and even months?

Brent Brookbush, July 8, 2010 at 11:41am: Great Question Lorrie,

There are a couple of ways to attack this problem. We can look for more convenient solutions, try to increase their productivity, or we can call this a problem with priorities. My personal opinion is that finding more convenient solutions is a great step, but until this individual realizes the importance of their health they will likely do little about it. It sounds to me like this person has not really found their teddy bear. I find it unfortunate that a high percentage of these people need to suffer an injury before they make a change.

Jonathon Schetzsle, July 8, 2010 at 2:39pm: Good answer, Brett. Being aware, or realizing the importance of exercise and diet is often overlooked. Well, until an injury, or until people begin to age and become aware of their deteriorating health. Awareness is key for motivation in any sense of the word, but I see denial, excuses, etc….way before I sense awareness of the situation. Who's responsible for making them aware? Often times clients awareness is enhanced not only by us, but some external event that imprinted a sense of urgency to regain health.

Brent Brookbush, July 8, 2010 at 2:48pm Great Points… This discussion has definitely sparked several ideas that could be discussions unto themselves. This being one of them.

Yusuf Boyd Great discussion! IMHO the emotional "teddy bear" is a good start but what you are really seeking is a concept that they can grasp and not let go of. From a psychological perspective, if an individual understands, truly understands not only the reasoning but the value of a goal that they have set they will adhere to accomplishing that goal and even more. What has worked for me (Im sure all of you do this but to what extent Im not sure) is instilling a true understanding of LIFEstyle Change, stressing the LIFE part. As we all know, for the physical rewards to remain one has to adopt a new life style but where I see personal trainers slack is emphasizing the LIFE part. Ensure that the client knows they are embarking on an ordeal that will evolve into a new way of living that they will enjoy. Use the emotional "teddy bear" to get their attention but then work on developing a true understanding of "for Life". It does take a lot of hand holding in the beginning, a lot of talk and just plain ol support. Remember, support from family/friends is minimal at best so we are their support system until they can walk on their on. We are not just their personal trainer, we are the person they feel the most vulnerable too because they want to be like us in terms of body image, etc. With that, we hold the emotional key, we just have to not be lazy and use it. Setting goals is great but when said goal is a week or so late the one thing that they can fall back on to help them push on is a true understanding of "for Life". This may sound overly simplistic, some may even say it's difficult….both are correct. It's simple because they just have to realize it is "for Life" but getting them to accept that is difficult because it takes more of our time.

January 07, 2012, 12:08:17 PM

© 2014 Brent Brookbush

Continue the conversation using the comment boxes below – questions, comments, and criticisms are welcomed and encouraged!!!