May 30, 2015

Why? Profound Armour Piercing Question About Fitness Motivation

by pyrad
Categories: General Running and/or Fitness
Comments: 1 Comment



Why may be the one of the most probing and interesting questions. It delves deeper into the motivations and causes of all events. It’s a simple, but armour-piercing question that cuts right to the heart of the matter. That’s probably why it’s one of the most challenging questions to answer fully and honestly.

“When I was sixteen, I went to work for a newspaper in Hong Kong. It was a rag, but the editor taught me one important lesson. The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when, but why.”
–Elliot Carter from “Tomorrow Never Dies

I went to my local Goodlife Fitness for a “LifeChanger” assessment last Thursday. The measurements and body analysis were very insightful. I’ll write about that later. This post is about some questions the Fitness Manager asked me as part of the assessment that really sent me for a loop. These questions were almost existentially armour piercing.

After a physical assessment, the remainder of the assessment is essentially filling out a detailed, graphically pretty form on a computer with the fitness manager asking the questions and doing the data entry. A logical and really good question was: What are your primary fitness goals? We chatted about it for a while and compared it to my physical assessment and came out with these:

  • Improve mobility in hip flexors, trapeziums and hamstrings
  • Gain lean muscle and improve muscle endurance
  • Drop 7% body fat

These should look rather familiar. I am aware of my tightness in joints. I have a desk job and running doesn’t help. The muscle endurance was my biggest weakness during my last full-marathon, and apparently it showed when I was doing lunges. And the fat loss is straight out of my New Year’s Resolutions (and out of 2014’s resolutions too and wasn’t met).

And of course, reaching these goals wouldn’t be the end. Life and fitness are constant journey.

Then the armour piercing question:

Why is this important to you?
Why is this important to you?

Why is this important to you?



Say what?


I literally had a moment where I drew a complete blank to this question. I started mumbling something about faster races and better injury prevention and such.

The fitness manager was a pro. Evidently she’d heard this kind of reply before. She had some good follow-up questions.

When do you think about needing to achieve these goals?

What makes you feel you need to achieve these goals?

And that made me really think about it.

Why do I run and exercise? Why do any of us go through this self-inflicted torture? It’s not really for the bling. It’s not even really for PB’s or bragging rights. It’s deeper than that. And different for everyone.

I thought back to the defining moment that made me get off my ass, my struggle to do the CN Tower Stair Climb in 2008. That was a long time ago and I’ve done a lot since then. Why still keep going?

I suppose I look at it as an investment. This will take some explanation. Most of my family is much older than me. Going through the family history for the assessment identified it all: Family history of diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease… you name it, it’s in there. I have relatives that are walking pharmacies with literally dozens of pills to take each day. And because the age gap between me and most of my family is so pronounced, I don’t think too many have seen their family members weaken with age the way I have. So I look at the future with fear. I see a tortured future with oxygen tubes, mobility issues, crippling medicine, and/or death. A little torture now to forestall that seems like a small price to pay.

I suppose I run because I run away from hospitals.



Then, another wallop:

Why haven’t you achieved this yet?




And it cuts right to the heart of the matter. If it’s so important, why didn’t I make any progress in all of 2014? Why haven’t I made any progress this year even though it was in my New Year’s Resolutions?

The LifeChanger had a list of things that could be in the way. It’s not money, or time. I picked motivation, network, and knowledge. Really it is motivation. I have really only been strength training once a week, and that one time was when I was booked to see my personal trainer. The rest was just a lack of willpower.

Network and support are factors I hadn’t really thought about. My family is not active. They do support my running, but mostly in a very passive way and I don’t feel like they really understand (I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand either about 7 years ago before I got into an exercise routine). I don’t have “gym buddies.” I even feel rather out of the current “cliques” at the Square One Running Room. But, I do feel special kinship with fellow bloggers, dailymilers, and other people who read this blog.


And then ending off the trifecta of zinger questions:

How will your life be different when you achieve these goals?

It’s another way of asking why you want to do it, but more on the thought of what will be different about me and my life when I reach these goals.

And I’d never actually thought about it.

It’s been some pie in the sky to chase. What would be different in my life if I actually achieved these goals?

The manager made suggestions. Perhaps it would improve my confidence. Maybe even at work.

I hadn’t thought about my physical help affecting my professional life. Quite frankly, I know that any promotion would come with supervisory responsibilities that make me very uncomfortable. But, maybe that arrogance or confidence that comes with being fit would make me less afraid of that situation.

Maybe the arrogance or confidence that comes with being fit would help me in the dating department.


We set 3 upcoming events as motivation to reach the goals:


The LifeChanger assessment led directly into a fitness plan with specific periodization and sub-goals. It’s at least 2 days a week of personal training, preferably 3. And I get the feeling it will work, because knowing I was paying got my butt out once a week in the past. At almost $50/hour it’s going to cost a pretty penny. But, money I have. I can’t buy health or a better body. I’ve set aside the time. Now I just need to to show up and change my life.


So, any readers willing to tackle these LifeChanging questions?

Why is [reaching your fitness goals] important to you?

Why haven’t you achieved them yet?

How will your life be different when you achieve these goals?

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1 Comment »

  1. Zorbs says:

    Mine are always the same:

    can I fit into and look good in all the clothes that I want to wear?
    can I do everything I want to do physically?

    if the answer to either of these is no, then I train/eat to achieve these goals. I don’t think the ending is ever met.