I love to exercise and move and sweat. I often say I am desperately seeking endorphins! Getting a good workout every day, preferably early in the morning, is critical for me to have the energy I need to do my job well.
Two weeks after moving to Philadelphia, I was completely bored with biking, walking and doing yoga by myself. I knew that I was going to have to figure out something different to keep me motivated and moving.
In looking for a new exercise routine in Philadelphia, I examined my routine in Ann Arbor to figure out what about it had kept me motivated and engaged for many years. These are the things that I identified as important to me.
- Friends: I have several friends who I had been working out with for years in Ann Arbor and was able to combine social time with exercise. In fact, because we are all so busy, it was often the only time that I saw some of my friends.
- Variety: I went to two different studios and infused other activities in making up my routine. Although, I religiously went to each studio twice a week, the workouts varied each time, which kept it interesting and challenging.
- Measurement: I was able to measure my progress and see my improvement. Whether it was watching my power output increase on the bike or seeing my fat body mass decrease, I could see my progress and that was motivating.
- Instruction: I like having an expert guiding my exercise. I push myself harder when I have an instructor and I like learning to do the activity correctly to avoid injury and perform to my highest capacity.
On one of my lonely morning walks, I stopped and asked an exercise group that was working out near the Art Museum what they were doing and how I might join them. I am now in my third week going to boot camp a couple of mornings each week. This class has three of the four things that support my exercise habit. It has been great and has felt like my first step in finding an exercise routine that will be sustainable in Philadelphia.
One framework that I find really helpful when I think about how to establish or maintain good habits is the Influencer Model outlined in the book Influencer, The Power to Change Anything. This model outlines six areas of influence we need to pay attention to when we are trying to change. When I map the things I value from my exercise routine, they map directly to the influencer model.
- Friends = Social Motivation
- Variety = Structural Ability
- Measurement = Structural Motivation
- Instruction = Social Ability
I have the personal motivation and ability to exercise, but adding social and structural support by joining a class here in Philadelphia makes it much more likely that I will maintain an exercise habit that I really value.
My challenge to you this week is to think about how you might strengthen a habit you value by adding social or structural support.