Reinforcing your Workouts

PigeonOperant Conditioning

You may be familiar with a psychologist called B.F. Skinner. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, also known as the Skinner Box. He was a firm believer of the idea that human free will was actually an illusion and any human action was the result of the consequences of that same action. If the consequences were bad, there was a high chance that the action would not be repeated; however if the consequences were good, the actions that led to it would be reinforced. He called this the principle of reinforcement. With this theory in mind, can this possibly explain why so many people have negative association with working out?

Can you think back to the first time you worked out? You probably got an uncomfortable feeling in your chest if you were out of condition or maybe woke up the next day sore and unable to move. According to Skinner, the initial consequences of working out naturally lead us to not wanting to ever work out again. You hear health experts and trainers like me give long lists of reasons that are beneficial for your health and mind but since these benefits can only be achieved if you stick through the pain, they are often never felt. If they are never achieved, it gives most people very little motivation to work out again. Well, what can you do to get over this hump?

Well, you can hire a personal trainer. Even if you have the knowledge about the principles and mechanics of exercise and kinesiology, hiring a personal trainer creates accountability. During the training session, the trainer is positively reinforcing you to push harder and achieve your goals. If this positive reinforcement is strong enough then you will want to keep at your workout program. Later, you get to experience the results from training, weight loss, lean muscle mass and an overall healthy feeling from your workouts. This further reinforces you to keep going. If you are unable to afford a personal trainer, group classes are another option to keep you motivated, although they are not as strong as having a 1:1 coach who gives their full attention to you. So if you are an individual who thinks working out is hard, painful, or boring, then this could be a solution to get you the results you need!

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