By, PTA Global Co-Founder Rodney Corn
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the IDEA World conference on the very topic discussed in the Insanely Simple Behavioral Strategies blarticle (my way of saying a “blog-like article”) – in short, why people don’t exercise enough and what we can do about it. In this presentation I had one of the most profound experiences that I have ever had while giving a presentation. In front of the entire audience, a revelation unfolded that was completely undeniable. And that is what I would like to share with you now.
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist (though I do have a degree in psychology). I am not brilliant with the understanding of how the brain & mind operate and/or how to apply behavioral change strategies amongst a myriad of populations and settings like my great friends and colleagues Dr. Roy Sugarman and Bobby Cappuccio.
After that boost of confidence, if you’re still reading this, you are smarter than I am. What I am about to tell you will be one of the most powerful and practical examples that you can – and hopefully do – take away and use in your respective sphere of influence. Here is how the story goes…
In the presentation, I asked the audience why don’t people exercise more? I find this a very enlightening question as many answer that “these people are lazy”, or “don’t know enough about exercise”, etc. Then I proceeded to ask, “how can we get them to ‘change’?” The typical responses, which elucidate a large part of the problem, are all the ineffective “induction” strategies discussed in the “How Do I Get My Client to Change” blarticle and Dr. Roy Sugarman’s recent book.
After walking them through these futile induction strategies (Insight, Knowledge, Skill, and Distress Induction), and asking them one more question – “Is it possible that ‘we’ / you are part of the problem?” – it was evident that many were not convinced and others were offended that I could ask such a question. At this point, I am quite certain that most thought I had no clue as to what I was talking about. Fortunately, due to peer pressure and perhaps curiosity, everyone stayed and wanted to know “the answer”.
I proceeded to inform them that I didn’t have “the answer”. And wow, did that win them over… NOT! But I asked them if they would be willing to take a small journey with me inside the head of one of these “lazy people” to see if we could gain a different perspective and perhaps get a glimpse at what an answer might look, sound, and feel like. And here’s where the revelation takes place… and feel free to join in…
I asked the audience to think of an activity that each of them absolutely despised and cringed at the thought of having to participate in. Many interesting responses came up, which maybe should be a topic of another blarticle – everything from washing dishes, to picking up dog-poop, to running marathons, to dusting. Then I asked them if I were presenting on ‘their despised activity’ would they have come to this presentation – even for CECs (continuing education credits)? The answer was a resounding – and thunderous – “NO!”. I restated their response – even though they would receive CECs, which they need to maintain their certification, they still wouldn’t come. Some attendees paused for a moment to think about that, but most said – “Nope!”
Then I went one step further. I told the audience that if they wanted to be healthy they had to spend 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week doing that despised activity. It was so dead-silent in the room that you could have heard a fly fart.
The tone in the room suddenly took on a new look and feel. Everyone looked very perplexed. So I decided to make my point. I picked a person to ‘go after’. I looked at “Rose” – who absolutely despised dusting (of all things) with such a sincere passion that she was quite visible and vocal about her disdain for this activity – I approached her, stood over her as she was seated on the floor, pointed my finger right at her and told her that according to the “Center of Disease Control (CDC)” if she wanted to achieve any type of healthy standard in her life she would have to dust for 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week at moderate intensity. (A combination of the futile Insight, Knowledge, & Distress Induction strategies ;-))
What Rose said next couldn’t have been more perfect, more completely in line with every person who is not exercising ‘enough’, and more impactful to the entire audience and hopefully you. Rose’s heart-felt reply, with the smell of cortisol oozing from her pores and her hands on the sides of her face dragging her skin downward, was this plea of desperation:
She despises dusting so much that she just couldn’t imagine, and was visually and verbally stressed at the thought of, having to dust in order to be healthy. Are you trackin’ here?!? This was a Fitness Professional – someone who understands a) it is ‘bad’ to not to exercise, b) the benefits of exercise, c) how to exercise, and d) the importance of exercise (insight induction, knowledge induction, skill induction, & distress induction). She became noticeably stressed-out and was not willing to dust 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week to be a “healthy person”. And by the way none of the other Fitness Pro’s in the room were overly excited about having to do their despised activity to be healthy either!
So I did what any good presenter would do… I told all of them that based upon their replies they were “lazy”! I think a few of them caught on… have you?
If we as Fitness Pro’s are not willing to do what we don’t like to achieve “healthiness” what makes us think that anyone else will do any different? It’s NOT about being lazy! It’s about fear. If we meet the client where they need to be met, things change, people change, lives change. How do I know this? Glad you asked…
After I finished telling Rose (and the audience) about the guidelines for health and about her (them) being lazy, I then turned around, knelt down on one knee in front of Rose and asked her another simple question. I said, “Rose, I understand that dusting is not a favorable activity for you and doing it for 30 minutes a day seems daunting. If I told you that you only need to dust for about 5-10 minutes a day, 2-3 days a week to achieve health benefits, would you be willing to give that a try?” Her eyebrows raised, her eyes widened and even sparkled a bit, and as she nodded her head up and down in affirmation as she replied, “I could do that!”
I turned to the raised-eyebrow-wide-eyed-also-nodding-in-affirmation audience and with hands raised in the air and a surge of electricity, I confidently and boldly proclaimed,
“BINGO! Welcome to PTA Global. That is what we do, how we do it, and why we do it!… And it’ll do the exact same thing for you!”
So my challenge to ‘us’ is this:
What if every trainer, coach, professional, or whatever you call yourself was able to get just 1 fear-struck person (we used to call them “lazy & uneducated”) every month to say, “I could do that!”…? What do think would happen?
Do we really want to make a difference or are those just really powerful words we like to altruistically throw around?
Are you trackin’?