The Richmond Register

March 30, 2013

The Biggest Loser approach: Will it work for you?

Dr. Jack on Health and Fitness

By Dr. Jack Rutherford
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Chances are – NO! In-your-face trainers spewing spit and four letter expletives may look like they get results but most experts say it’s not likely to happen for most people.

Sport psychologists divide motivation into categories: Intrinsic and extrinsic. People who motivate themselves do so intrinsically. Those who use outside sources such as personal trainers, use extrinsic motivation. Most research suggests that while extrinsic motivation can help you pump that weight a few more times or run a little harder, you won’t likely stick with that activity in the long run.

When you enjoy doing something, like reading a book, it’s internal and you don’t have to be pushed from the outside. But many people don’t enjoy exercise and feel the need to turn to personal trainers to find the motivation. Good personal trainers will help each individual find his or her own internal motivation. It may come through setting a goal like running a 5K. Or finding a particular physical activity that is intrinsically motivating.

Sports are good examples of intrinsically motivating activities. Many sports are so internally rewarding that the person barely knows they are exercising. But the results prove that sports can be one of the best ways to get exercise.

Not everyone is good at even one sport, however, and may have to resort to more traditional forms of exercise for their workout. And even some love to be yelled at. Perhaps they played sports under a drill-sergeant coach in their youth. Still, that approach, while seemingly enjoying popularity on television, isn’t the method today’s gyms employ to get you active and fit.

Even at boot camp, a popular exercise class offered at many gyms nationwide, instructors use more of a softer approach. The drill sergeant routine drives a lot of clients away. It’s better to ease them into the routine and then gradually work on expecting more from them.