How to motivate yourself to excerise • Common Purpose

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How To Motivate Yourself to Exercise | Finding your Deeper Why


Words by Common Purpose Team

Published 23rd January 2020

Approximately 5 Minutes Reading Time

Brief Article Overview

  • Discover the true meaning behind your training goals by applying the 3 why technique, to find your deeper why.
  • Finding your “Deeper Why” will sustain you through periods of low motivation.
  • Use the times where motivation is high to establish habits that will help set you on the path to fulfilling your deeper why.
  • In our experience, people’s fitness journeys often flux between periods of high and low motivation.
  • Those who know their deeper why are better at getting through times of low motivation, and more successful in the long run because they’re able to maintain consistency.


Does it feel hard to find your way in the fitness industry nowadays? It seems the sole objective is to attain that magazine cover physique, which is apparently only achievable if you’re willing to wake up at 4am, do copious amounts of sit-ups and starve yourself for 16h a day.

Even gym environments are being designed to achieve a certain aesthetic. They’re turning into underground nightclubs, blaring out electronic music and kitted out with special mirrors and lighting designed for that mid or post-workout Instagram selfie.

As personal trainers, in many of our initial consultations with potential clients, it’s common for them to say that they haven’t managed to find a routine that’s right for them. And no wonder! Having worked within the fitness industry for so long, we at Common Purpose are confident at separating the real from the fake, but can easily become blind to how confusing this world is from the perspective of the general public.


When we step outside of our world and have a look around, we can’t help but feel like a large majority of the fitness industry is ultimately just letting people down. With so much focus placed on how we look, and not how we feel and function, it all just seems a bit shallow.

Take A Moment and Self-Reflect… Ask Yourself the 3 Why’s

With life being so hectic nowadays, it’s hard to take the time to really reflect on the true motivations behind the goals that we set. When we ask people why they exercise, for example, they often just say “because it’s good for me” or “because I should”. It’s also common to embark on a fitness journey from a space of negative emotion like depression, frustration or anxiety, which in turn sparks a drive for change. If this sounds familiar, we ask you to pause. Look at your current reasons for exercise and ask yourself the 3 whys. 

Here is an example of the 3 whys exercise with some potential responses for context:

Why #1

Why do you exercise or why are you motivated to start an exercise regime?

Potential Responses

  • To lose weight.
  • To build muscle.
  • To run a half marathon.

Why #2

Why have you set yourself these goals?

Potential Responses

  • I’m not feeling great about myself right now.
  • My lifestyle is a little out of balance at the moment and I haven’t concentrated on myself for a while.
  • I need a goal to focus on, to give me direction and purpose. 

Why #3

Why have these emotions, feelings of thoughts affected you so much that you’ve decided to do something about it?

Potential Responses

  • I want to improve my health so I can get the most out of myself and my life.
  • Being healthier makes me happier, I feel more energetic, confident and content.
  • I want to be my best self. Not only for myself but also for the people I care about like my friends and my family.

Harnessing Initial Motivation and Achieving Long-Lasting Success

It might seem as if we are suggesting that you completely disregard your initial fitness goals and start training for something deep and meaningful, but this isn’t the case. Your New Year’s Resolution to lose a few kilos is equally as important as the driving forces behind it. You could call it a manifestation of internal drives, that you’re just currently unable to make explicit.

Your initial goal is the actionable step that motivates you to actually step out of your comfort zone and start exercising again. This is a great and necessary start, but often short-lived. Identifying your deeper ‘why’ will help you stay consistent. At the same time, it’s important to create some tangible targets that can be measured, because seeing progress helps drive motivation and they help keep you accountable.

If you’re able to mediate between these two factors for yourself (your initial goal and your deeper why), you endow your fitness journey with so much more meaning, that it becomes powerfulunstoppable even! We have even witnessed clients set harder-to-achieve goals off the back of this or simply change their focus to achieving something that is more meaningful to them.

Such duality is excellently showcased in the Yin and Yang symbol which also plays a part in our Common Purpose logo. It depicts two interlocking shapes, one black and the other white, which are of equal size representing relative importance. The white side has a drop of black in it and the black side has a drop of white, indicating that they feed into one another, in order to create harmony and balance. 

You could be someone who doesn’t care too much about exploring the reasons why you exercise in any depth; maybe a simple, measurable goal like running a personal best 5km or losing 2 kilos before a holiday is good enough for you. We’d still suggest spending some time to reflect on your deeper why, as you may discover a hidden motivation which will come to your aid when life gets in the way and it’s tough to stay consistent!

Equally, your motivation to start exercising could be something more profound, like wanting to grow old gracefully, staying fit and active well into your 80’s and building mental and physical resiliency so that you can support your friends and family for as long as possible. This may mean that you shy away from setting any short-term, tangible targets. Here we’d suggest spending some time trying to create a challenging, but achievable goal that can be measured, to ensure you keep progressing and stay focused.

Beach Body or Deeper Purpose? A Chicken and Egg Paradigm 

By chasing a body composition goal will you be motivated enough to train consistently in order to succeed? Or by finding your deeper why, will you find the motivation needed to be consistent with your exercise and therefore obtain a fit and healthy body? Which comes first? It depends on the person, and it almost doesn’t matter, as long as we recognise that the two modes of thinking are equally necessary and ultimately support one another.

We understand that we, humans, are incredibly complex creatures, who are individually unique and there is more to each of us than meets the eye. There isn’t simply one approach to get ourselves the results we desire, but taking the time for some introspection can help in many areas of our lives. We believe passionately that exercise is a tool we can use to enable every one of us to become the best version of ourselves, both physically and mentally

Our mission is to unlock the hidden potential within all of our clients and help them to become their best selves… for themselves!

If you’re interested in starting your health and fitness journey with us…



Disclosure: This article is not to be used as medical advice. If you are currently experiencing physical or mental health issues, please seek professional advice from a fully qualified Nutritionist, GP or Physiotherapist.