July 27, 2012 — 7 Comments
A couple weeks ago I woke up perhaps a little cranky, but mostly just fed up with some of the motivational tactics which have been floating around more and more in regards to health and fitness.  Below is the Facebook result:
Clifton Harski
The over the top inspirational quotes by some people in the fitness industry are starting to blow my mind. In a comical way…maybe I’m just a little cynical, but….for example “You can’t have a training goal without first having a life purpose.” Please share your thoughts, do you like these types of quotes, or do they seem out of place coming from? Do we really think that fitness programs are that intense/serious?
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Jason C. Brown – I’m with you. That’s all I see on FB lately. That and “What’s your excuse?” banners?
Jeff Ventura – If you can philosophize something, you can make t-shirts, stupid posters, and blog posts. But first, you need a goal orientation framework, and you need to identify your passion on a vision board. Or bullshit board. Whatevs man. Workouts are serious f-ing business
Clifton Harski Ok, thought I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. My goal is to keep working out fun first, and aim it to improve people’s lives….not be some sort of existential over the top spiritual thing.
Mike Connelly – Too heavy. I, personally, like to keep it light. For instance… “Brooke, if you don’t pack your shoulder on your get ups kittens are going to die.” Brooke is an ASPCA member so it works every time. Thanks Jeff O’Connor!
Adrienne Harvey – They make me weary too – I have to ignore a lot of it and ummm prune the newsfeed accordingly.
Clifton Harski What ever happened to good old fashioned inspiration like “don’t you want your ass to look amazing in ‘dem jeans?!
Sarah Young – Training… much like life…. is far too important to be taken seriously 😉
Diane Sanfilippo – Yeah, I think if people have training goals, cool… athletes, etc. but most folks should just find a way to move every day that is fun for them. Goals are great, but I think the best goal is to be having fun. If you aren’t having fun, what’s the point?! 😉
Garrett Smith – Good exercise programs create internal motivation. Bad or excessively stressful workout programs require lots of external motivation…like cheesy quotes and PhotoShopped pictures. 
Clifton Harski – ‎Jason C. Brown Hope you don’t mind, but I find your list here to mesh with my own views. Training for me is my outlet, my fun, my hobby, my passion-but I don’t think I’ll ever have a quote like the initial one i quoted!
Clifton Harski – I suggest starting our own realistic inspirational quotes here, “those weak ass squats are NOT going to get you laid” Mark Fisher is my motivation. as are Kyle Langworthy and John O’Mahoney
Ann Wendel – I think the only catchy, good slogan needed is Nike’s classic “Just Do It!” I mean, really, just get out there and do it, whatever “it” is for you! Do it 100%, have tons of fun, work hard, then recover like it’s your job, then do it again.
Laree Draper – Clif, I think your workouts reflect your personality, serious, intense and fun at the same time. Other times we see a rule follower or someone who wants to have all the options lined up…maybe someone who wants to cut corners. Sounded totally weird and over the top to me then, but I think he was on to something, that ponderer guy.
Kyle Langworthy – How about this for inspiration: “YO, you better push that f*ckin’ floor away from you right now or ain’t nobody f*ckin’ you tonight, son!” -my gangsta quote for this a client setting a new PR for squats this morning. Worked like a charm. I’m so “inspiration-ey”. True story.
Robin Moore – I usually don’t mind/ignore them depending on who they are coming from. But, yeah, overall I’d say it is pretty heavyhanded. Most of the people taking those quotes to heart could probably benefit from making their dramatic workouts more fun. I imagine these people typically work out to episodes of The West Wing or Law and Order.
Laree Draper – Found the old quote! Via Dave Draper: “You are clearly reflected in your training. Your workouts mirror your character, personality, strengths and weaknesses.” So… do you require inspirational quotes to get you going in your training? Maybe that’s a reflection of your, er, weakness. :~)Andrew Badenoch – I can’t get out of bed in the morning without puns to trick me into being an overachiever or posters of strangers on mountain tops with arms raised triumphantly.
Glad to see I wasn’t alone (admittedly, one person say she “loved” those types of quotes, but I edited that out to support myself. It’s my blog).  I just don’t think that we as trainers should be trying to act like Tony Robbins. Or at least we shouldn’t need to be AT ALL POINTS.  In fact, if you have to resort to motivational speeches then you might be doing it wrong! And if that client really takes that much effort, they might not be worth it.  We should be able to fire up our clients in different ways, such as
  • Hotness. Mark and the staff (what’s up Kyle and John?) at do this amazingly well. In a more GLORIOUS fashion than many (probably any) other gym in the country-and it WORKS. They get people hot (and also fit, healthy and moving well). And people want to be hot.  And calling it hotness is genius! It makes it seem less serious because it acknowledges the goal to improve one’s body composition through humor which effectively takes away some of the pressure.  This is healthy, but when it becomes an obsession to get ripped, or skinny or whatever, it becomes unhealthy. A fine line I know, and to help you navigate it I suggest you go read this articleby The Whole9 who break down dysfunctional thinking on body image MUCH BETTER THAN I COULD (I really want to give them a TomKat type name, I’m thinking Dallissa…)

    From the Whole9. They don’t just do diet, it’s a whole lifestyle support system over there.

  • Performance. This is my favorite. To me performance just means working towards specific goals, because I’m not a professional athlete, and neither are 99.9% of your clients. Getting them excited about performance goals is awesome. Now, lots of trainers will say that this is a better goal than an aesthetic goal, and I would agree long term—but here is the problem. Lots, or most, of trainers are like me and have always been in shape and have no idea what it’s like to not give a shit about how much you bench press because all you want to do is be able to go shirtless or wear a bikini without wanting to hide.  So those of us who are trying to push performance goals on people who just want to get hot, need to tread those waters carefully….listen to the client.  I think an industry leader in goal setting are the girls over at Girls Gone Strong, and I don’t just mean for girls either, these ladies are smart, and their blogs are better than mine.
  • Health. This is actually pretty hard to motivate people with, because it’s harder to quantify like inches on your waist or pounds on your squat. BUT! If you are successful with the lbs and “s, you can start to point out how GOOD the trainee is feeling, and that’s when you’ve got them. Because once you’re healthy and feel great…you want to stay that way. Unless you’re dumb.

Now, the reason I wrote this today is because Nike has just put out one of those give you goose bump motivational commercials. I mean it is damn good. And if you’re gonna do motivational videos or pictures, it better be to this standard, otherwise you’re just not cutting it.

Finally, I’d like to know your thoughts on this CrossFit ad.  Is it vulgar, cheesy, poor taste, effective marketing, or what do you think about it?


If you’re in San Diego, go to to come out and train.

7 responses to Motivation…Friday


    The Nike video gives me goose bumps…and borderline makes me want to cry. Different ages, cultures, genders, socioeconomic status….it has it all and is accessible to all. Our drive to create our own individual goals and fight until we achieve them brings us all together. The 2nd video (and I’m not doing this to be a Crossfit hater – I have seen some Crossfit videos that were inspiring) did nothing for me. It’s probably some upper-middle class young woman with a hot body doing some hard core fitness – but it didn’t make me feel anything. I don’t think it is vulgar or in poor taste, but as a marketing tool I think it is ineffective.


    I just bought my first pair of size 10 slacks in 20 years. Wasn’t my original fitness goal, but sure made me do the happy tippy-toe dance! Hotness counts, even at 60.


    Clifton, I really am appreciating your blog. Great stuff, great post. Keep them coming. Will you be at AHS?

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