Classes, Pacts and Useless Facts


Adding Extra Motivation and Accountability to Your Workout

By Tommy Dott

Did you know that Eric Clapton wrote the love-longing and lustful song Layla for his best friend's wife? If you do, than you know that his best friend was ex-Beatle George Harrison, and "Layla" was George's wife, Pattie Boyd. Of course, if Eric happened to write a song called "Pattie" the jig would've been up quicker than you could say Taxman, so he disguised her name. But unfortunately Eric couldn't disguise his feelings, and eventually Pattie divorced George and married Eric, and guess who was the best man at the wedding? You guessed it, George. Now if you were part of the dating scene during the 70's those kinds of shenanigans may not surprise you, but you might be surprised if you learned this bit of rock and roll trivia during an intense, early morning cycling class. Why might you hear about this twisted tryst during a work out? Because I'm the cycling instructor and, quite frankly, I'm not a big fan of working out, and so I assume most of my riders aren't either. So, here we all are, in a hot room with beads of condensation streaming down foggy windows about to ride to Layla, which is exactly 7 minutes and 4 seconds long (it should be noted that when you hear it during that famous Goodfellas scene where bodies start appearing from freezer trucks, pink Cadillac's and dumpsters, it moves along quickly, but when you're peddling at 110 rpm's, well, even those last 4 seconds might seem like an eternity). You see, my need for the distractions of good music and useless trivia is all about motivation. But often times even when there's motivation we still need an extra push--that's when accountability is needed. Either of those 2 components, motivation and accountability, might work just fine, but together they can be an unstoppable force. As an example, it's said that something like 95% of all New Years resolutions end up in the dumpster (or a pink Caddie) before March. Why? Because even though we might be motivated to tackle a resolution, we don't have accountability. But, at the same time, if you have someone that can hold you accountable, are they motivating you to work harder and to get outside of your comfort zone?

Here are some quick ways you can add motivation and bring accountability into your workout routine:

"I don't have to, I get to!"

We have a saying in our class which I repeat often: "I don't HAVE to go to the gym, I GET to go to the gym." Motivation to exercise is all around you--you just open your eyes to it! Do you know someone who can't workout any longer? Perhaps they are physically unable to, or perhaps they were born without the ability to workout. Maybe you know someone who might be less fortunate than you and doesn't have the means or finances to get to a gym. I often think of my friend who used to love running marathons and competing in triathlons, but unfortunately she left us after a long, debilitating battle with arthritis. If that's not a motivator for me to "show up" I don't know what is. What's that old saying? Use it before you lose it! If you are motivated to exercise and are physically able to do so, don't look at working out as "work", look at it as a gift that's been given to you.

Who do you carry with you?

I'll take that last motivating thought a step further. We've been wintering in Florida and to combat the "happy hours" I work out and occasionally sub at the local YMCA down there, where just about every morning I see a young man at the gym giving it his a walker.   I don't know him personally but it's clear that he has a degenerative disease. Just to get from one machine to another is a massive challenge for him. It is clear to me that he isn't just trying to stay in shape, he is fighting for his life. But rather than feel badly for him, I am in complete awe of him. He inspires me. So I'll let you in on a little secret that even he doesn't know. Because he can no longer ride a bike, when I'm in my class I mentally carry him with me. He rides with me all the time. Now I don't just do it for me, I ride for him. Is there anyone you mentally take with you when you exercise? Perhaps it's someone who motivates you for other reasons, like a grandchild that wants you to stay healthy. Next time you're thinking about taking a long walk and need that extra push out the door, close your eyes and find someone to take it with you.

Take a class and kick some @$%!

Group exercises are wonderful for so many reasons. These days the variety of classes available seems endless, and they're a great way to learn proper form while being motivated by an encouraging instructor. Personally I love the structure classes offer. There's a warm up, a cool down, and more importantly there's a start time--an added motivator for us procrastinators! Best of all is the built-in fun factor from of the social aspect. Group exercise classes are a fantastic way to meet people and make new friends. You can also be a little sneaky and secretly pit yourself against someone in class with the personal challenge, “However hard they work, I’m going to work a little harder”. 

Take a class and make a pact

Once you’ve made friends in class, make a promise with someone. Tell them you’ll see them in class 3 days a week and see if they’ll make the same commitment. If they're not willing to commit, try someone else. It’s a guarantee that there are others besides you who are looking for a little extra accountability. You can even make that commitment to the instructor, because you know they'll be there, and now they'll be looking for you! Take my word for it. Like you, I need accountability too. Why do you think I run the class? That's another way to take accountability a step further--make a pact with yourself, get trained and certified, and become the instructor! This leap comes with an added motivational "twist" when you’re about to hit the snooze button and suddenly realize, “I get to go to the gym AND I have to go to the gym!” Now what could better than that?

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Tommy Dott is a certified Personal Transformation Life Coach and instructs meditation and stress reduction. He also is a cycling instructor at the Barnstable YMCA and is involved with their Pedaling for Parkinson's program. Tommy can be reached at