The other day I finally made time to go to the gym. I actually drove an hour and a half to get there. Why in the world would anyone drive that long to go to a gym? Because I went to work out at Slimmons studio in Beverly Hills with none other than Richard Simmons. I have to say that now that I have done it, I would totally do it again. The studio was jam packed with a ton of people and I could barely show off my dance moves because I kept running into everyone around me. Of course, I say “show off” very lightly because most of my dance moves will only impress a 3 or 5 year old.
While there I discovered a few things: Richard Simmons is kind of weird (video of him at the end of this post), getting older and has somehow managed to maintain popularity over four decades. When you are there, it is obvious why he has been able to achieve this. His workouts are super fun and at the same time slightly creepy (at one point in time he actually sprayed himself with PAM). Besides the occasional oddities, I actually thought to myself that I didn’t want the workout to end. I am pretty sure I have never had that thought while exercising before in my entire life.
Richard has tapped in to something that not every personal trainer or exercise instructor has been able to do. He creates workouts and exercise programs that are fun and just crazy enough to keep people coming back. When people keep coming back they lose weight and get healthy! Research has shown that having fun during a workout can be an excellent autonomous motivator. This means that people who choose to exercise for themselves because exercise makes them feel good or it is an enjoyable activity are more likely to do it and keep on doing it.
A research study done on 234 participants with type 2 diabetes showed that both high exercise self-efficacy (measure of one’s ability to complete goals) and intrinsic motivation ( motivation that stems from a person’s own desire to complete task) resulted in weight loss at 4 months, but maintenance of physical activity was only linked to intrinsic motivation (Sweet et al., 2008). This study possibly can’t be applied to everybody because people with type 2 diabetes are a specific population, but it does show that a person’s desire to exercise for a reason of their own choosing (fun, it is enjoyable, they feel good afterwords, etc.) can make a big difference on why a person may stay exercising after a period of time. So the take home message: whatever you choose for exercise, make it fun for you and it won’t be hard to keep it going!
Now for a little taste of what it is like at the Slimmons studio. This wasn’t our class, but similar to what it was like.
Sweet, S. N., Fortier, M. S., Guérin, E., Tulloch, H., Sigal, R. J., Kenny, G. P., & Reid, R. D. (2009). Understanding physical activity in adults with type 2 diabetes after completing an exercise intervention trial: A mediation model of self-efficacy and autonomous motivation. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 14(4), 419-429. doi:10.1080/13548500903111806