Motivation to Sweat

I like to sweat. Even on days when the first part of my run is a mental tug-of-war, with one side of my brain agonizing over how much I don’t want to do this and the other side telling myself to shut up and endure it, I love the feeling I get about a mile into the run when that first sweat breaks, and I love the incredible sense of satisfaction at the end of the run when I’m sweat-soaked and feeling really healthy and tough.

But, everybody’s different. Not everyone likes to sweat, which is a major reason, no doubt, why 85 percent of our population still does not exercise. Why don’t they like to sweat? Is it the actual bodily function that turns the majority of our population off? Or, is it that the physical and mental exertion that are required to work up that sweat are just too tough? My guess is it’s the latter.

I’m going to assume that as a fitness professional, you like to sweat. But try to imagine yourself as the club member who really wants to experience the results of exercise, but who really hates to sweat. For them, all they can think about during exercise is how uncomfortable their breathing is and when, oh when, the 30-minute session programmed into that machine is going to be over. Trust me: They’re not thinking about how much fun they’re having.

I never really gave much thought to what the exercise experience is like for those who don’t like to sweat, until I read John Porcari’s article (Virtual Motivation, p48). I remember the first time I tried a virtual reality machine. Tectrix had just introduced its VR Bike at the Club Industry show in October 1994. At the early morning workout, I pedaled for about half an hour over a mountain bike course, passing over streams, jumping fences and riding through little houses. I admit I had fun. But I remember telling my coworkers later that day that while it was fun, I didn’t really feel like I’d gotten a workout.

I was so engrossed in all that was going on, I explained, that I really wasn’t sure that my heart rate was up throughout the ride. Did I sweat, they asked? Yes, but I didn’t feel like I got a workout.

Thinking back on that experience, it’s not surprising to me that I wasn’t as excited as some about what appeared to be the start of a new era of interactive exercise machines. But, then, I like to sweat; it’s the fact that I’m aware of the physical and mental exertion required to sweat that keeps me motivated to exercise. Wow, think of what being unaware would do for the member who hates to sweat.