Consumer psychology tells us we are more apt to purchase a product or use a service if we see ourselves depicted in its advertising or promotion, or see others like us doing the same, a principle that also applies to activity engagement.  YOU have the potential to motivate someone else’s engagement regardless of what side of the coin your fitness level falls.     

Huh?

Seeing others succeed at or accomplish something gives us hope and confidence that we can do the same, including physical activity.  In fact, this can be a significant source of motivation, second in strength only to our own history doing the activity.  The sentiment is ‘if he/she can do it then I can do it too!’  But, it is especially impactful if we recognize similarity between ourselves and the person we are observing. 

For example, a twenty-something uber-fit, elite athlete who has just watched another twenty-something uber-fit, elite athlete hit a performance benchmark will be particularly motivated, ‘pumped’, to expend the energy to match the benchmark.  The same twenty-something likely would admire a fifty-something for shining at the Senior Games, but wouldn’t realize the same motivation stimulation as what it would be from watching a peer. 

The same goes for all the other sides of the coin.  A fifty-something soon-to-be-fitter exerciser could appreciate the super human feats of elite athletes but wouldn’t necessarily draw motivation from them because of their comparative other-worldliness.  But, watching another soon-to-be-fitter senior (safely) crank out 30 minutes on the treadmill would instill the    confidence to do the same.  

While paying it forward isn’t a novel concept, it’s particularly forefront today considering the platforms that exist to broadcast evidence of activity successes at all levels of engagement.  Social media provides seemingly endless access outlets that capture the nuances of life.  Yesterday I learned what mustard my friend puts on her sandwich and read a blow-by-blow graphic about just how sick another friend’s dog was – all over his house.  The usefulness of some information might be debatable, but not the opportunity to use platforms to inspire someone else’s engagement.                    

For the good of humankind’s activity motivation you hereby have permission to push the bounds of social appropriateness and give a shout out to yourself every once in awhile.  That’s right, let us in on your good fortune, publicize your milestones,

First, offer up a FitBRAG by using the mechanism on Ironfootprintfitness.com or emailing us at [email protected] or [email protected].  We will do our part to re-broadcast your feats on our digital properties.            

Second, the gym I attend frequently hosts fitness-related photo shoots.  While it’s interesting to watch the process then see the results on a magazine cover, it’s inspiring to watch the 70-something woman do her treadmill workout everyday and also keep an eye on the 60-something man who has transformed his body composition by dropping 100 pounds and adding muscle.  Like others, I can certainly appreciate a pretty picture, but since there tends to be little similarity between me and those pictured they don’t’ do much for my motivation.  So, along with offering up FitBRAGS also do your own photo shoot and if you are so inclined (hopefully) post the pics/videos for others to see.  Consider it your own public service announcement that pays motivation forward.

You may not ever know how it gets passed along, or for whose benefit, or the life it takes along its journey, but know that what you report to achieve during engagement DOES make an impact.  And, unlike my generation’s version of social media – you don’t need to meet at the playground swing-set to get caught up.