Staying Motivated – Intrinsic v. Extrinsic Motivation


How do you stay motivated?

I get this question a lot. For me, the answer is simple: “it comes from within.” I know that is not very specific, and it doesn’t really help to explain my personal motivation, so let me share a little bit about motivation in general, and maybe you’ll see what I mean.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation means that the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from within. For instance, a person is taking a spin class at the gym because he or she gets pleasure from taking the class and from the feeling that results after it’s over. It’s motivation that comes deep from within the core. Not everyone has it, but everyone can get it. People who are intrinsically motivated are physically active because they truly enjoy it.

Extrinsic motivation means that the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from outside or really anywhere except from the inside. Examples of an external factor that motivates people are: to lose weight, to be healthy, to make their spouse happy, to look good, or to meet new people.

Very few people are entirely intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. It’s usually a combination of the two.


Now here is the KEY…

You are more likely to stay on-track with your fitness and nutrition plans if you are INTRINSICALLY motivated.

The boyfriend, the hot bikini body, the compliments, they are great and all, but you have to want it for yourself from within in order to ensure long term success.

Here are some strategies for transitioning towards intrinsic motivation:

  • Remind yourself why you are here If you’ve taken one of my spin classes, you’ve heard me say, “why are you here?!” Remember your personal goals and motivating factors for getting to the gym and staying on track.
  • Stay hooked on that feeling – Reflect on the positive feelings and successes you’ve previously experienced from regularly exercising. How did you feel overall? Did exercise improve other aspects of your life besides your physical appearance? For many people exercise is a mental stress-reliever, not just a physical one.
  • Set GOALS – I cannot stress this enough! I ALWAYS have a goal in mind. Create a short-term (weekly), medium-term (monthly), and long term (6+ months) goal for yourself. Make sure it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal, meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, REALISTIC, and Timely. For instance, “to lose weight,” is NOT a good example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal. I want, “to lose 5 pounds by June 1st” is a S.M.A.R.T. goal if the current date is May 1st, because that is a realistic and achievable goal that you can measure.
  • Keep in mind that change takes time – It is important to remember that change does not occur overnight. Recognize that in order to obtain desired results both time and continued effort are required. Consistency is key to success!
  • Remember that you have to do this for YOU – You will have the most success if you are your own cheerleader, not your spouse, your best friend or your weight loss group. In the end, it’s you vs. you in the mirror.

More to come on motivation, but I hope this helps to start your weekend off with a little extra pep in your step for staying on track. Stay healthy people!

Flywheel Review in South Beach, Miami

Mary Davis Fitness Reviews Flywheel South Beach

The next morning on our trip, we headed to Purdy Street to try out Flywheel. We were definitely hurting a little from our 8-mile run with the Raven (link here), but we stretched a little and hoped that an intense 45-min ride would loosen us up. I have tried SoulCycle before (link here), so I was super excited to check out Flywheel to see the difference.

We had to reserve our bikes on Sunday at 5pm the week before. That is when the reservation block opens online, and at 5pm on the dot, I watched before me as bikes were being reserved left and right. You actually chose your bike online. It’s a lot like when you are choosing your concert tickets; you reserve your seat. Luckily I was able to get two bikes next to each other. By 5:05pm, the class of 60 bikes was nearly sold out.

Along with the common questions that are asked during a registration process like name, address, and payment info, Flywheel also wants to know if you want to opt in for the Torqboard and if so has you create your username. This is where things get interesting. The Torqboard is a competitors dream, and an exercise novice’s nightmare (which is why you can “opt out” if you want). About ten times during class, the instructor turns on the Torqboard, and you can see where you rank among the other 60 or so riders in class. There is a male and a female side, and the stats are based on speed and power (torq). So for instance, if you are cycling quickly at a low resistance, you won’t rank as high as someone who is cycling at the same speed with more resistance (and is essentially working harder than you). More to come on this…

Usually the workout is all about two things – the instructor and the music – so I did my homework and picked an instructor who came with an awesome and hard-core reputation. After all, when you are paying $25-30 a class, you want to leave sweaty and satisfied.

We arrived about twenty minutes early for our 9:30am class and checked in on iPads at the front of the studio. Our cubby holes coincided with our bike numbers, and slot 44 already had my size 7.5 cycling shoes in there waiting for me. The shoes are no additional cost. We changed, found our bikes, and were ready to roll. Class started promptly at 9:30am, and it was full of heart-pumping, exciting music that really got you motivated for your workout. I was so excited and energized (the pre-workout coffee helped) that I really had to try hard to stay under my max heart rate of 170 for the ride. It is very difficult for me to reign it in during my workouts, but I know that my body is working twice as hard since it’s supporting 2 people now. I was pedaling along, enjoying the class, and then it happened…the Torqboard flashed up for the first time…and I was FIRST. “MaryDFit” right there. Number one on the girl’s side, and beating a few on the guy’s side as well.

Oh it was on.

I wasn’t first by a long shot at all. There were two other riders that were right on my tail. How much longer did we have of class? Oh 30 minutes?! Oh boy, this was going to be one killer workout. For the rest of class, I was pushing myself so hard to remain in that first place spot while also making sure that I wasn’t overdoing it. It was not easy. There were many times when that Torq flashed up that I was second or third. It was so close. It shows where the other riders were located too, so I was eyeing up bike 28 and 48 the whole time.

At minute 25, we started to incorporate weights into the workout using weighted bars that were located on either side of the bike. You had the option of using one or two bars. Each weighed about two or three pounds. That segment lasted for about five minutes, working the shoulder, chest, triceps and biceps. By 30 minutes we were back to just riding, and I was back to super competitive. At the end of class, I ended up tied for second place, a little disheartened but also proud that my body could sustain that level of endurance and intensity for that long. Good work body.

I can officially say that I am hooked on Flywheel. Justin travels to Atlanta for work this spring, and I am planning to hop in his suitcase for a few days so I can check out their Buckhead studio and do a little work from the road. If you have the opportunity to try this amazing workout, please do so. At the end of class you’ll think to yourself, “Torq down for what?!”

Mary Davis Fitness Flywheel South Beach

Mary Davis Fitness Flywheel South Beach

So What is CYCLE all about?

Have you ever taken an indoor cycling class at your local gym? If the answer is no, then I encourage you to read on an learn more about this amazing exercise.

Many people have told me that they are hesitant to take the class for two reasons:

1) It’s too intimidating
2) My butt will hurt on those little seats.

Well I am here to tell you that step one is to get over your fear of group exercise. I am going to let you in on a little secret. Most people (except your instructor) only care about THEIR OWN workout. So give yourself a pep talk, walk right into class, and tell your instructor that you are new! He or she will make sure that your bike is set up properly and tell you how the resistance works, to ensure that you are ready for a safe, low impact, and challenging workout. The resistance is key! If you feel that you ever need a break from class, just turn your resistance down enough that you just feel “the road beneath your feet” and coast along a flat road for a while. Once you are ready to rejoin the group and kick up your effort level, you can add on more resistance to challenge yourself again.

As for the little seats, well, your butt just gets used to it. I have six foot five, 250 pound men that take my class and sit on those little seats. After a few classes your butt won’t know the difference (and you’ll end up with a great looking butt after a few more). There are padded bike shorts available for men and women as another option if you need it.

Why should I take a class if there are stationary bikes right outside of the room that I can use?

Great question. Does that stationary bike come with an instructor who is going to push you, challenge you, and motivate you to work to your max for the 45-60 minutes? Probably not. Group exercise is such a beneficial way to improve your overall cardiovascular system. Not only are you motivated by fast-paced, exciting music, but you are with a group of 20-30 other people who are in it just like you! I have made many new friends by taking group fitness classes because you typically see the same people when you take those classes each week. People build their work weeks and personal schedules around their favorite classes for a reason! I have a friend that told her boss that she wouldn’t take a lunch break at all as long as she could use that hour to take a 9am spin class a couple of times a week. Exercises makes you more productive at work, so he was happy to oblige.

What’s so great about indoor cycling when there are so many other cardio options available?

A few things!

First off, indoor cycling is very low impact. I have been injured many times during my days as a runner, having to take time off for stress fractures and sore chins and knees. I teach indoor cycling 5-6 times a week, and I have never been injured or needed a break. Proper bike set up is key, so make sure that your bike seat is at the proper height. Have your instructor help you with the initial set up, and then you’ll know how to set your bike up each class.

Depending on you height, weight and effort level, you will burn between 500-800 calories during that 50-60 minute class. A heart rate monitor is a great way to help you get an accurate estimate of your calorie expenditure. I recommend the Garmin Forerunner 110. You can find out more information about that product here.

Cycling classes often are so great because of the music and the instructor! If you attend one, and you are less than thrilled, try out more. Each instructor has a unique style. With many options and several classes held each day, you are sure to find one that fits!

Are you convinced yet!? I hope so! Once you try it you’re sure to get hooked like me. Happy cycling (and sweating).