exercise / fitness / fitness industry / fitness management / gym / gym management / health / personal trainers / Uncategorized

The Enthusiasm Spasm

P.T.’s – did your ‘People Upstairs’ gobble up ‘The One Minute Manager’ and ‘The Enthusiastic Employee’ with a knife and fork?

Gyms seem to think they sell enthusiasm. Selling enthusiasm is what you do when you have no idea how to ‘grow’ motivation.

Motivation comes in two types. There’s the outwardly focused, reward-based kind (extrinsic), or, it’s cousin, intrinsic motivation (where the ‘goalposts’ are determined by your internal values).

Enthusiasm is not motivation. Enthusiasm is a ‘brand’ that gym management can sell to both clients and staff members. What a potentially explosive product enthusiasm is. Like cartoon dynamite, it either fizzles out, explodes prematurely, or, if you’re lucky, sets a rock or two going in a Wile E. Coyote landslide kind of direction.

But by itself? Enthusiasm alone is not sustainable. Nossir, let the bell of…ahem…’bulldust’ ring.

Enthusiasm can be faked. In fact, Acme-brand enthusiasm accompanies most people’s negative pictures of fitness. Pictures chock full of insincerity. It’s like a mockery of the misery for somebody starting at the gym in their very uncomfortable skin. Some echoey canyon of patronising yells…”Yeah! One more! Let’s Go! Alright! and 5,6,7,8!”

Trying to find motivation in enthusiasm is like trying to find fruit in a Slurpee. Just because it says it’s flavoured that way, doesn’t actually mean there’s any fruit in it. (Read the billboards’ fine print next time. I kid you not. “Fruit-flavoured Slurpees may not contain fruit”).

Where perpetual enthusiasm reigns, the guts, the actual juicy pulp of human connection that helps people change and evolve, has to be shipped in like a foreign ingredient. This is why you find trendy management fads sprouting in a gym. (The other thing you find sprouting is some p.t.’s old tuna and rice, growing fish fungus in the staff microwave. Ohhh the consequences! The smell, obviously…but who knew management could confiscate whitegoods?)

If managers believe that the best way to grow a company’s relationships with its clients and staff is to import a ‘brand of happy!’ from somewhere else…then ‘enthusiasm’ just requires one person to read a pithy, glossy, softcover business book. Next? Apply ‘Enthusiasm’ as a policy. Like a bumper sticker. The kind you put over that big dint in the chrome…

A gym that promises to motivate clients by having them engage with (policy-created) staff ‘enthusiasm’? Is a gym selling something they don’t own: the goodwill of their own staff.

Don’t believe in bumper sticker relationships. Trainers, ‘Enthusiasm Policies’ aren’t going to get any real flesh-and-blood person over the line. You are. You’re going to get them there – by getting real.

Managers... Requiring staff to come to ‘slogan meetings’ unpaid? To attend social events that are actually ambushes for motivational workshops? To spout corporate cheer on their Facebook page? It’s not, well…motivating.

Clients…Don’t be discouraged (or distracted!) by the hype happening around you. There are real people who will help you: they’re just not the ones crowing. (For anything anyone might say, once the boofheads of the floor know you mean business? They will help you any way they can. Even six-foot slabs of muscle will surprise you. When it comes to training, the generosity of boofheads is legendary).

‘Bumper sticker enthusiasm’ peels off.  Motivation? Gets under the bonnet.


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