There is a consciousness of the value of exercise in preventing degenerative disease and in improving the quality of life. Our modern life-style fosters a lack of fitness – we travel in cars, use lifts and all sorts of other modern conveniences, and are subject to stress in many different forms. People know that exercise can go a long way towards counteracting the effects of stress, and cure of most forms of obesity.

People are also aware of several other advantages of taking regular exercise, and yet, based on research, the exercise dropout-rate has been estimated at more than 70%. Fitness is everybody’s business and nobody’s responsibility. It is OUR business to improve the quality of life by means of fitness training and education, motivating the community to exercise must also be our responsibility.

Too many health spas recommend passive devices such as rollers, vibrating belts, massage or saunas to accomplish weight loss, muscle tone and fitness. They also recommend fad diets. As a result, people often expect instant results with very little effort and,
If they cannot see immediate improvement, become disheartened and “give up”. Passive exercise and fad diets cannot provide lasting results, however, since this type of treatment does not get to the root of the problem.

Another very valid reason for health studio dropout is LACK OF SUPERVISION. Since the advent of the “Exercise video”, people frequently work out in front of the TV screen with no-one to advise them whether they are doing the exercises correctly or not. The many injuries which have resulted from exercising in this way, both in health studios and at home, have gone a long way towards contributing towards the exercise dropout rate.

Another reason why this type of exercise has not gained permanent followers is that most people prefer to exercise with others in a group. Research has shown this – other people who have enrolled in group programmes have a lower dropout rate, show greater strength increases, greater improvement in body composition and equal improvement – in aerobic capacity when compared with those involved in individual programmes. The researchers concluded that group exercise was advantageous because of leadership from a trained instructor, mutual encouragement and a structured exercise schedule.

Lack of motivation is another common cause of dropout. To motivate participants to continue exercising, physical activity must be seen to be important to health and appearance, as well as being beneficial in other ways. Further motivation is provided when the participant becomes aware of improvements in his/her capabilities.

A good intructor is aware of the reasons for the high dropout rate, and should be able to anticipate and notice the danger signals. For example, retrogression is the term applied to a plateauing of fitness. Great strides are made during the first few weeks of exercise, then a “plateau” is reached and progress appears to stop. If the programme is continued, progression will again take place. Although retrogression is normal and common, if one is not aware of this phenomenon the associated frustration and disappointment could well cause an individual to give up. (retrogression is explained in the chapter on principles of training).

The development of motivational techniques and procedures cannot be over-emphasised. One can perhaps get a clearer picture of the concept of motivation if one examines the reasons why people exercise.

1. Why exercise?

According to Pollock, Wilmore and Fox (1978: 24), the two broad reasons why people exercise are:
a.) for achievement and
b.) to improve the quality of life.

Let us break down further and examine why people SHOULD exercise, why in fact they DO exercise, and then apply this to what we understand about motivation.

2. Why SHOULD people exercise?

a.) Improved cardiovascular efficiency (physical conditioning).
b.) Body becomes able to meet demands imposed.
c.) Weight control energy in/out balance).
d.) Positive effect on harmful stress: endorphins (“relaxant” hormones released in the brain have a tranquilising effect.
e.) Psychological benefits.
f.) Reduced risk of degenerative disease.
g.) Faster recovery after disease, injury, surgery.
h.) Graceful movement.

3. Why DO people exercise?

a.) Physical conditioning (cardiovascular and respiratory benefits).
b.) Weight control.
c.) Figure shaping or bodybuilding.
d.) Rehabilitation.
e.) Advised (warned) by physician.
f.) Advised (warned) by spouse.
g.) Conscience. (Everyone else is doing it, maybe is should too!)
h.) Enjoyment.

Group 1 – pleasure
Group 2 – effort
Group 3 – Have very little motivation; COULD become interested through achievement.