Updated: Feb 21, 2019
As a Personal Trainer I get to learn from my clients (as well as from my family, friends and colleagues) about the different motivations that drive people to take up a workout programme.
These can be quite varied and affected by local circumstance (people recovering from injury, women returning to the gym after childbirth or amateur athletes preparing for a marathon). A common motivation that I learn about regularly, however, is a desire on the part of the person concerned to ‘Look better in the mirror’.
Which is usually code for ‘Look better to the opposite sex’, or the same sex, or just to the person concerned. In short, the person preparing to change their diet, rearrange their lifestyle and to sweat it out regularly (but rewardingly!) in the gym is spurred into such action because they want to look better.
We are bombarded today with health advice that emphasises the positive impact of exercise and even, in the case of the This Girl Can campaign, in its empowering potential. Exercising, taking control of our desires where food is concerned, and living a more active lifestyle are promoted on the basis that they will make us feel better, not necessarily look better.
But the truth, certainly in my experience, is that for many people hitting the gym an activity which delivers a stronger, sexier visual image and which (hopefully) can lead to being attractive to other people.
And there is nothing wrong with that at all.
For myself, I get compliments on my appliance, as do other Personal Trainers I know. What we put it, in terms of effort on the gym floor, does lead to aesthetic benefits and these are appreciated by others. So I would never belittle this motivation.
However, it is also true that such benefits, as with the broader health benefits of an active lifestyle, are not just limited to those in a particular age range. In the course of my work I train people from their 20s to their 60s and, in my experience, that drive to exercise for aesthetic benefits can feature for all kinds of people at different stages of their life.
And again, there is nothing wrong with that, as it is also true that physical attractiveness is not only limited to those in a certain age range. A fit physique is what it is whatever the age of the person concerned and a strong body can be built (and maintained!) at any age. As long as we adapt our diet and exercise to our local circumstances, and are informed in the expertise choices we make, we can achieve in (and out!) of the gym.
Feeling good when we look in the mirror after a good workout is not a prerogative of the young, it is an option for all of us.
And a good motivator in itself.