My passion is motivating my friends to exercise more so that they can live life to the fullest. You see, being a fitness coach, I have heard more excuses for NOT exercising than I have eaten salt, and as someone who likes salty food, that is equivalent to hell-of-a-lot of excuses. In fact, it would take anyone, more than a lifetime, to sort through and deal with all these excuses individually. I discovered very quickly that you can offer someone the best exercise programme that is tailored-made for them and you can even guarantee them results but all this effort will prove futile if the person lacks motivation to take the first leap of faith. In short, you can bring a donkey to water, but you just can’t make him drink it.
So, over the years, I patiently studied what motivated people do what they do and I came-up with this programme I call “The Are 4 E’s in Exercise” to help me in helping others to take-up exercise positively as a way of life rather than forcing their hand into it. Let’s face it; we all hate to be told what to do. Instead, we would rather work-out things by ourselves and in this way; we are more likely to take account for our subsequent actions. Wait a minute, there are only 3 E’s in the word, “exercise”! Good, now I know that you are awake & paying attention. Of course, there are no more than 3 E’s in Exercise, and I admit that using “4 E’s in Exercise” is just a gimmick to grab your attention. After such a solid build-up, I hope my upcoming punch-line will not disappoint – anyway, that’s for you to judge. For the purpose of this exercise, I will refer to my friend or the person who we want to motivate into action as “the subject”, and you or I will play the role of “mentor”.
First “E” stands for “Engage”: It is very important to engage the subject in an engaging conversation about how to engage in exercise. To get off on the right foot, find-out as much as possible about what kind of sports and exercise, the subject is most interested in. Knowing what turns the subject on and off will be useful to steering the conversation in the right path. Besides that, listening very carefully to the subjects every word will also give you plenty of clues on what triggers the subject into action, and inversely, what shuts the subject’s mind.
The second “E” is for “Encourage”: You cannot give enough words of encouragement to the subject. I cannot stress this point enough. Take every opportunity to encourage & spur the subject on no matter how small the achievement seems to anyone else because to the subject it could mean hell-of-a-deal. Your every word of encouragement will be matched by another step forward taken by the subject. When the subject feels good about what he/she is doing, there will be greater likelihood that they will want to repeat such actions.
The third “E” is for “Empower”: Now that you have “engaged” and “encouraged” the subject to perfection, you should provide the eager subject with as much information as you can on the skill sets required to successfully accomplish the preferred exercise, whatever it might happen to be. If the subject does not receive the right kind of information from you, there is a good chance that the subject will perform unsatisfactorily and/or the subject will become frustrated. So, it’s your responsibility as the mentor to find-out as much as you can about the chosen type of exercise, be it running, weight-training, cycling or any other kind.
Finally, the last “E” stands for “Enjoy”. At the end of the day, if the subject does not enjoy himself/herself, we all might as well stay in bed and get some extra sleep. Don’t worry or fret if the subject does not enjoy the exercise in the beginning. It might take months for a novice to learn to enjoy a new activity. In fact, it is rare that a subject will immediately take to a new kind of exercise. You and the subject will need to exercise patience in the early days as the results will not come over night. However, with proper planning, adequate training and consistent effort from both mentor & the subject, the results will be realized in no time.
So, the next time someone asks you for advice, it may mean that they need a mentor, and that person could be you. Will you be ready for such responsibilities? Will you know how to respond? Who knows but I can guarantee you one thing, when I see the expression of sheer satisfaction in my mentee’s face when they cross the finishing line and achieved their best, that feeling is priceless.