You don’t need to shame or encourage people to exercise. It’s not really your job, even if you’re a trainer. If you are a trainer, it’s your job to teach people how to exercise. In a broad sense, motivation may come into it, but it doesn’t have to be dogmatic or cruel. I like helping people to get strong and become better at looking after themselves, in a certain context. And that context is fitness. The shape of your body is your business, what you eat is your business. Getting you stronger, helping you to become better at moving, that’s mine.
The thing is, if you don’t want to train, there’s not much I can say to change your mind. It’s messy these days. Really overcomplicated. I don’t care what you weigh. If you want to improve your fitness, I can help you, it’s actually a separate issue. But yelling at fat people to be less fat motivates nobody. The clients I’ve had who seem to value my service the most do so because they find something valuable in the process, they’re not just hoping for future happiness, and also we get along well which seems to help.
It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. If you’ve trained with a trainer for awhile and you’re capable of more now than you used to be, it’s a bit magical. If you have managed to overcome injury or dysfunction, that shit is gold! And when you’re free and curious, you don’t need anyone yelling at you. It becomes interesting naturally, if you can bring yourself to the activity with an open-minded curiosity. You start to enjoy challenging yourself when you feel free and you trust your training buddies.
But it’s difficult to explain, and it doesn’t always work quite like that. People either care about a thing or they don’t. Nobody is born hating their own body, but they can be taught how, and where does that lead us? To paraphrase Mandela, it is more natural to love. To love also requires work, but it is more worthwhile in the end.
Constantly pressuring someone to give a shit often leads to disinterest or resentment. You only need to pressure someone into doing something if they don’t value what you value. And if that is the case, where are you headed in the end? If they find the training itself rewarding, the concept of motivation becomes redundant. And so it’s good if you can train with like-minded people, whoever those people are. And so when it comes to training, you only need to motivate someone, so-to-speak, if they don’t notice any real benefit to the activity.
And of course, then there’s this: if they don’t notice any real benefit, what is the point of motivating a person to do something that’s basically meaningless to them? You only need someone else to force you into doing stuff, if the stuff in question means nothing to you.
Find something worth doing, and do that. Don’t pin all your hopes on future happiness; the activity itself must be engaging or rewarding. Don’t spend your time trying to be motivated to do something that’s only a waste of time. Instead of worrying about motivation, instead, make it worth your while. If it’s worthwhile or satisfying, you don’t need to force yourself to do it, and there’s no need for resentment. So we don’t really need motivation in a conventional sense. Instead, it is not only kinder, it is also more practical if we try to open our minds and just stop being dicks to ourselves. You don’t need to be motivated. Kindness and curiosity will get you further. It’s not commitment you need, but generosity. Be generous, and give yourself the opportunity to have a real experience of the thing that interests you. Sink your teeth into something worthwhile.