Q: What is the most common reason people come to you?

A: Most people I speak to are frustrated. They’re tired of stopping and starting a fitness routine over and over again. Often, they’ve done the gym seen multiple times (usually every New Year) and just get stuck in a contract with little to show for it. It’s common for them to feel lost with what to do. In fact, my clients often feel like they are the problem when they really aren’t. I assure you, they aren’t. I dive into this self-blame in the sample chapter you can download for free here (check out the sections called Fit of our Genes and Swinging Away).

Q: What do you do when you perform a “makeover”?

A: Although the specifics vary, a makeover generally follows a fundamental structure based on motivation research, my field experience, and my work with fitness-seekers. It starts with uploading as much as I can about a person’s fitness history. That’s the groundwork for what’s to follow. After that, we discuss motivation and obstacles to sustainable behavior change. Most importantly, no makeover is complete without developing skills and acquiring new tools to bring the plan to life. The plan isn’t prescriptive, but customized to a person’s background, personality, and motives.

Q: What’s a “mighty motive”?

A: This is my favorite part of my work. In a way, your mighty motive is like your fitness personality. In my interviews, when I asked loyally active people what they liked most about their favorite fitness activity, they told me it made them feel adventurous or peaceful or social or competitive (there are 14 total I use in my work). When I work with someone and perform a “motivation makeover” I help them identify what their core motives are. That is, what experience are they truly seeking? Which words fit them best? You can imagine how people’s answers vary, revealing how unique we really are. So your mighty motive is usually the 3 motives that define you most.

Q: Why is the “mighty motive” useful?

A: It takes trial-and-error out of finding activities you like. If you don’t build a routine around what you enjoy, you will keep dropping out. The research is strong on this. The “mighty motive” concept makes the vague concept of enjoyment a lot more accessible for people. It’s at the heart of every makeover I perform.

Q: Where did you find the people you write about in your book?

A: At first, they came to me. On a consulting assignment years ago, I was fortunate to have spent time collecting the fitness histories of new members at a gym. It was during this time I started to see how the same old questions everyone asks like, “What are my goals?” were part of the problem, not the solution to dropout. Afterward, I continued to interview people who had a rich track record of being active, some for decades (some cases are in my book). Interviewing people about fitness is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a story to tell.

Q: You write that you’re critical of fitness culture. What don’t you like about it?

A: Popular fitness culture isn’t all negative, but there are many maxims that people adhere to that are either unsupported by science and/or promoting negative relationships with physical activity and our bodies. Sayings like “no pain, no gain” need to die as far as I’m concerned.

Q: Do you still work with fitness centers?

A: Yes! I perform seminars and trainings based on my methods and tools. I will also give talks to members on topics related to motivation and sustainable lifestyles.

Q: What is your fitness routine like?

A: I get this question a lot! I plan my fitness out weekly, but from week to week things can vary somewhat, especially depending on the season. I LOVE to be active outside under the cloak of nature. That means hiking, trail running, walking my dogs in the woods, and outdoor community fitness groups in Ottawa like November Project, Ottawa City Run Club, and Arboretum Hill Club. In between that, I do yoga, more often in winter. I have a home Yin practice. Periodically, I’ll enter a race, but I’m not as competitive as I once was. I enter races more as a social event to do something fun with like-minded people. I’m taking more of an interest in Obstacle Course Racing so we’ll see where that goes. I entered my first even in 2018 and love every second of it.