Not everything that is contagious is bad for us, take enthusiasm for example. Being around people who have higher energy levels or a positive outlook helps us step outside of our own perceived limitations. This is why a good Coach (or a DJ for that matter) knows how to modulate their voice, energy levels and passion, in hope that their client or audience will catch a dose of what’s going around. So, how can you catch the enthusiasm bug? Here are a few ideas.
Dopamine, often referred to as a ‘feel good’ hormone is released when your brain is expecting a reward. With the right encouragement we can create an environment conducive to its release. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood. If you put physical activity together with good company you’re on to a winner.
One study documented the benefits of exercising with people who are fitter. As we don’t like being left behind we are more inclined to push harder. They termed this – the Köhler motivation gain effect, “where group members are more highly motivated than comparable individual performers’’ (Kerr & Hertel, 2011)
Last week I was chatting to our resident Coach and lover of marathons Tarica (‘T’) who explained how she uses this technique to her advantage. She will look for another runner with a gait that’s on par with hers or slightly harder and then focus on keeping pace with them and ‘riding their wake’. This means she is more likely to push herself and less likely to be distracted by any niggling self-doubt. If you’re a bit of a loner or prefer exercise on your own terms, this offers a way to still challenge yourself without the group environment. Just being around people with a similar mindset can inspire us to be better.
I’m not suggesting that a beginner should enter themselves in an Triathlon for motivation, I imagine that would have the exact opposite effect. However, I am suggesting that it can be very helpful to team up with a person or people who are near your fitness level but also challenge you physically and/or psychologically.
A good example is a gym group environment that welcomes people of all fitness levels and abilities and can provide appropriate modifications so no one is left behind. Training with a friend or having an active catch up such as a walk can also help us do more that we might have done if left alone.
If you’re looking for a good Coach, they don’t have to be a Commando unless you like that kind of thing, they can simply be encouraging, inspiring, a good listener and someone who inspires you to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Whatever your choice, good company helps pass the time and makes going that extra mile so much easier.
Coach Nicky McKimmie