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The Difference Between Inspiration and Motivation in your Fitness

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If you have got this far, I would imagine you haven’t considered whether you are inspired for your fitness journey.

Or that you even should be?

Because all we talk about in Fitness is: Motivation.

Seriously…its all anyone focusses on when it comes to starting their fitness or carrying on with their fitness. The number of people that tell me they are lacking motivation, or they have lost motivation…

In fact… so much so I have produced a full 30min YouTube Video on “How To Keep and Stay Motivated”

So how does Jacquie, who is 46, and that person you always see at the gym, no matter how infrequently you attend, how does she always seem to be there…how does she keep going if we know motivation fails people and shouldn’t be relied upon?

Well, I believe that motivation fails you if you don’t add inspiration to what you do when working on yourself physically.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the great Russian composer said this:

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”


In this article I want to address the following so that you can go away from here lit up and ready to keep going for the amount of time you need to keep going for to be a success at what it is you want to achieve.

We will cover:

  1. The Difference Between Motivation and Inspiration
  2. What is Inspiration in Fitness?
  3. 6 Ways To Find Your Fitness Inspiration
  4. 4. Conclusion

So let’s get into it…

The Difference Between Motivation and Inspiration

The wonderful Humanitarian Leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar describes it thus:


It has also been described like this:

“Motivation is a push factor,” he explained. “It’s an outside force that is compelling you to take action, even if you don’t necessarily want to. Inspiration, on the other hand, is more of a pull or driving force. It’s something that comes from within that gets us to proactively give our best effort. When someone is inspired, they’re with you for the long haul.”

— Sam Taggart


I find both quotes interesting.

In Fitness the topic of Motivation is a very prevalent one. It's the go-to word that people use when it comes to describing the state of their fitness.

You fall into two camps:

  1. Motivated
  2. Not Motivated

It is completely linear. The majority of people see that if they fall into Camp 1 (Motivated) they are then taking action and doing the things they need to do to get to their goals.

If you are in Camp 2 there is no point at all. And that's that.

The much-misunderstood truth is that there is a Third Camp:

3. Motivated and Un-Motivated
Which is what every single human being in the world is. No one ever has perpetual motivation and no one ever has perpetual un-motivation (I’m sure that's a word…leave me alone!).
The human condition is a blend…like with everything else.

Now we know that the best way to find your Motivation is the following:


You follow this Loop. Start with Action, then you get Results and then you find your Motivation.
Or a simpler way I like to put it is: Do, Track, Repeat

However…if you know Motivation will fail you…how do you bolster that part of the loop? How do you make sure that when you hit Motivation you then are able to restart the Loop with Action again?

As Sam Taggart says in the quote above:

“Motivation is a Push Factor”

“Inspiration is more of a Pull Factor”

Now if you have followed me for a long time you will be very aware that I am a proponent of Balance in your Fitness journey.

I am sure you have seen someone with a Kyphotic Posture in their life? A very over-pronounced upper spine tilting someone's head forward.

Different postures of the spine


This Kyphosis occurs, presuming there are no other health issues at play, the Kyphosis will occur if someone has spent too much of their life “hunched over”. It could be someone has worked on a laptop for 20+ years, it could be they have hunched over a Games Console for too long, or they just stand that way as they lack strength.

My point is it comes from an imbalance.

To correct this in the Gym we would have to strengthen all of the back muscles using many Pulling Motions and stretch out the shortened chest muscles. We would have to work on counterbalancing the body.

So, if Motivation is a Push…

…and if you all do is Push you create an imbalance in yourself.
We need to create a Pull in your life.

Just like we would create balance in your workouts in the Gym.
And that Pull is your Inspiration.

You need to turn your Motivation Loop into a Success Loop:

The Success Loop — Adam Berry


You must do both: Repeat AND Learn.

You need to find your Pull and your Push in order to be able to stay in perpetual motion towards your Goals.

With my clients in The Fitness, Collective success is always attributed to those who work on their inspiration. Motivation and Inspiration are very close bedfellows and one thing they do have in common is they must both be worked upon.

Neither of them will just appear or turn up, they will require you to work on them in order to allow them to have the correct effect.

What Is Inspiration in Fitness?

Personally, I think I came a little late into the game when it came to Instagram Fitness Inspiration
Or should I say #fitspo

And I am eternally grateful because I had I have joined the industry maybe 4 years previous I might have fallen foul to the bandwagon, but instead I have found clarity and my message which is miles away from the selfie hell that #fitspo truly was and probably still is.

I quick search on the good old Instagram and 70.7million hits of Fitness Inspiration show up and they look like a pile of sick:


#fitspo on Instagram


Please read this next bit really carefully: THIS IS NOT FITNESS INSPIRATION

This is Fitness Self Indulgence. This is a bunch of very fit people trying to make a bunch of unfit people feel very very shit about themselves.

I’m not saying they are doing it intentionally, but that is the effect and the result of this horrible practice and anyone who utters the word “Fitspo”.

70.7million photos of unachievable physiques, highly edited photos, and extremely lucky genetics have caused a failure to you. It has caused many people to think that Inspiration is the perfect body, unachievable results and beauty that can only truly be achieved by Adobe Photoshop.

Looking through all of those photos…I personally do not find a single one of them inspirational. They just make me feel rubbish about myself…and I wonder if you feel the same?
The good news is this: Fitness Inspiration doesn’t exist on Instagram.

Inspiration for Fitness comes from within, not an external source. It comes from your own desires, beliefs and wants from yourself.

Inspiration in Fitness is Learning. It’s the studying. It’s the developing your “fitness brain” and figuring out how it interacts with your life. It's learning how you manage under heavyweights, it's feeling your Glutes fire, it's walking out of the Gym feeling strong.

It’s finding out about how much you are struggling with it and how much the professionals struggle with it. It’s the understanding of your humanity in the field of Fitness.

I know that sounds like a lot…I’m not saying just because you are trying to become fit you need to become a PT…believe me you really do not need to do that.

What I am saying is you need to be a little more immersive in the subject.

6 Ways To Find Your Fitness Inspiration

At Drama School, we had to keep inspired, and just like Motivation, I found the harder I worked the more inspired I became.

When we would get a new script…it was like learning a new language. A script doesn’t come alive until you have read it at least 8 or 9 times…and you need to do that before…well before Day 1 of Rehearsals.

The reason it reveals itself slowly to you is because of all the other research you do around it. You find out the History of the time the Play was set, you find out the stories of the people who lived during those times, you listen to Music and look at Art from the period to try and help make the world believable to you…make the world seem real to you.

Many people dislike Shakespeare because they quite simply “don’t understand it”. When I first pick up a play of his…I don’t either. But the more I work on it, and the more I read it, and view it from different angles…the more it reveals to me.

The difference is that I give Shakespeare an 8th and 9th chance. Most other people don’t give it a second chance.


And Fitness is the exact same. You have to delve deeper sometimes, you have to ask insightful questions and you have to allow it to reveal its work to you.

If you just go to it with a standoffish attitude, then you can expect standoffish results.

So here are six strategies to help you find your Fitness Inspiration…and spoiler alert…


…None of them are “Check Instagram”


They will all help you move towards the Learn aspect of the Success Loop. You don’t have to do all of them, but I do recommend you do as many as you can take on without feeling stressed out about them.

  1. CONNECT TO A HIGHER PURPOSE

When you set your goals, I don’t want you to think too much on topics like:

  • I need to lose 2 stone
  • I need to look good in this top
  • I need to get into those jeans

I think they are quite materialistic goals, but I do know they will let you down eventually and will not fulfill you fully if at all.

What you should look more towards is:

  • I want to be a role model for my family
  • I want to prove to myself I can change
  • I want to feel more alive than I do right now

With the second set of goals, you are looking more “Intrinsically” than “Extrinsically”

Edward Deci in his book Why We Do What We Do says this in relation to Intrinsic Goals:

“…strong aspirations for any of the intrinsic goals — meaningful relationships, personal growth, and community contributions — were positively associated with well-being. People who strongly desired to contribute to their community, for example, had more vitality and higher self-esteem. When people organize their behavior in terms of intrinsic strivings (relative to extrinsic strivings) they seem more content — they feel better about who they are and display more evidence of psychological health.” 

And this in relation to Extrisnisc Goals:

“The researchers found that if any of the three extrinsic aspirations — for money, fame, or beauty — was very high for an individual relative to the three intrinsic aspirations, the individual was also more likely to display poorer mental health. For example, having an unusually strong aspiration for material success was associated with narcissism, anxiety, depression, and poorer social functioning as rated by a trained clinical psychologist…

Here we can see that you can literally inspire yourself…and as a by-product it will make you happier as well.

Think how many times in the past you have used an Extrinsic Goal like “get into that pair of jeans” and you achieved it. Are you now…months or years later still able to get into that pair of jeans?
If they were your sole aspiration…I would give a fair bet that you have gone through cycles of yes and no with that.

If you wanted to get into those Jeans to feel a lot sexier, and it makes you feel more alive and healthy when you do….chances are you are wearing them right now…

Connecting to your intrinsic values will educate you on yourself, it will help you look at what is driving you forward and what and who you really value in your life.

2. FOLLOW INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE


Don’t follow them on Instagram…i mean you can…but can you actually follow them on more meaningful platforms too?

Do they have a Podcast? Do they have a book? Do they have a blog? Do they have a website? Do they have a YouTube Channel?

All of these longer-form contents will inspire you a lot more than a quick flick and tap on the old IG.

A list of humanoids I find Inspiritational in terms of Fitness and the content I find of their’s most inspirational is the following:


I may have found some of these initially on Social Media, but without a doubt, their longer-form content is what has inspired me the most and actually that is what I will go back to most when I need that inspirational lift. Not their latest post on Twitter.

Some of them are uber famous, some of them aren’t, and that is the beauty of the list. I gravitate towards people who speak my language. Your list could be extremely different.

This is also just my inspiration in terms of my Fitness and part of that is running my business. Your list could have musicians on there, playwrights, artists…

And that brings me to my next point…

3. ENGAGE IN ART

I’m sorry. Coronation Street just doesn’t count. Eastenders is not Art.


In the same way, I think Long-Form content form inspirational people can help you more than their Social Media feeds can, I too think that Art can help you stay connected to your Intrinsic Goals.
Find the things that light a fire up inside you.

For me, it’s the Theatre. For you, it could be Robbie Williams’ “Swing When You’re Winning” or Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.

Art has a wonderful way of making us understand the human condition. When someone can pluck a phrase or a lyric and sum up exactly how you are feeling at that moment, and finds just about the right words, and puts it in a way that speaks to you like you never knew something could…

That lights you up.

And to be inspired…being lit up is very important.

When I am feeling my lowest I would jump on a train and head to London to do two things.

  1. I would walk past my Drama School and listen to Jackson Brown’s “These Days”
  2. Head to Trafalgar Square to go and stare at paintings in the National Portrait Gallery.

Yup. I’m a rock star.

These were two strategies that have always helped me feel alive. They have made me understand my condition as Adam, they have guided me and connected me with who I believe I truly am.

There’s a lyric in These Days that says:

“Don’t remind me of my failures, I have not forgotten them”

It drives me forward. It teaches me compassion and empathy. It allows me to reconnect to some of the most inspirational times in my life…and I just love it.

Find your song that does that. Watch Movies that aren’t about Superheros beating each other up but that are about real humanity.

Art can and will keep you inspired. Inspiration isn’t linear. If you can get inspired about life that will bleed into your Fitness. It will help you reconnect with your higher purpose.

I was always taught: “You must fall in love each day”

Do that…because it will reconnect you with your Intrinsic Goals and educate you on your own humanity — which is something none of us do enough of.

4. BECOME PART OF YOUR FITNESS COMMUNITY

Being part of a community can improve Mental Health. One very significant reason for that is that you begin to feel connected.

Connections in this day and age are getting more and more lost in the world of WhatsApp and Email. We don’t talk as much.

And when you have a community you communicate.

Communication is one of my big must do’s for a client. I won’t work with someone if they aren’t willing to communicate with me. They must also communicate with others.

Recently I overhauled my Private Facebook Group and I was really surprised that when I messaged people that I would have to revoke their access unless they joined The Fitness Collective for just £20/month how many of them said thank you to me for allowing them to be in the group for the period of time they were.

They said that although they hadn’t commented much they still got great value from it.
I was astonished.

The words Community, Communication have the same Latin Origin: “Communis” and this means: to share.

Ever heard the phrase: “Sharing is Caring”

If you find a Fitness Community, you will find a place where you can communicate, where you can share and where you can care for yourself and for others.

The Gym floor is this place for many people. Online Fitness Communities are that for others. When you see stories from people, whether you personally know them or not, but when you see their stories, and you spend time with them it’s amazing what kind of an effect they can have on you.

You can learn a lot from other people and especially if those people are just like you. They will share your struggles, your beliefs and your energy…and it will keep you inspired when you see them both succeed and learn.

5. LONG BOUTS OF LISS

This is a fancy way of saying “go for a walk”.

LISS means Low-Intensity Steady State Cardiovascular work.

This doesn’t just mean Walking though. It can be a light jog…but stay with me.

You can also do all kinds of things like:

Canoeing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Mountain Biking, Tandem Biking, Mountain Climbing, Hill Walking, Beach Surfing, Rock Climbing, Rafting, Kayaking.

The list can go on, and I appreciate that some of them aren’t that accessible to do regularly.
But they do all have one thing in common.

Nature.

And nature can be so moving it hurts and it can be so much fun!

Nature also teaches us insignificance which is a terribly humbling thing to go through. Have you ever been stood in a Mountain Range and felt like a speck of dust?

When we are humbled by nature it gives us perspective on our lives, and perspective is something that you very much require in Fitness.

Find out more about how Perspective influences your Fitness in this Article: Your Scale Strategy

6. ACTIVE VISUALIZATION

The first thing a Professional Golfer does before hitting aTee Shot is visualise the shot. Where is the ball going? How will it land? How will the swing feel?

Professional Athletes visualize everything they do. They see how their race will go, they see how that pass will look, they use their imagination in this way for two reasons:

  1. To create a consistent outcome
  2. To drive them forward for success

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you have sat there and imagined how it might feel if it would ever happen?

The imaginative version of try before you buy.

Well, when you visualize your ability to create something you also learn to sense what it will feel like. This will teach you control and understanding, this will train you how to react when things won’t go wrong, you are helping increase your hours of practice in what you are doing.

There are very few things that teach us better than practice.

Afterall; practice makes permanent.

Therefore when you spend time in your imagination, thinking about what it is you are working towards you begin to develop sensual and behavioral responses.

These are known as Manifestations.

When you want something, and you think about it, you visualize it, you sense it…you feel it in your body you then will find the behavior change you desire for that outcome a lot easier.
Because you have mentally practiced for it.

CONCLUSION

When you can get Motivation and Inspiration into your Fitness Journey everything will become easier.

Both require action, to be able to get there, but they have slightly different pathways.
Motivation is a Push Factor. Its what drives you to do something.

If all you do is Push in your life, whether that is in Fitness, Business or anything else you will become imbalanced.

To fix that balance you require a Pull.

This is Inspiration.

In order to find inspiration for your Fitness Journey, you need to allow yourself to learn. Learn about the subject of fitness by following inspirational people who will teach you, you need to form an opinion, you need to question why you are doing what you are doing.

It’s almost not enough to just “Do” fitness. You have to allow it to permeate your life…if you want to learn to be ruthlessly consistent and achieve your goals.

I wrote this a few months ago…and I think it sums up this article quite well…




Article written by:


Adam Berry


I empower busy stressed-out people to learn how to fit fitness into their lives.

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