Motivate the unmotivated with realistic fitness goals

January 19, 2017
3 min read

Christmas jumpers and tree decorations are back in the closet, and while our homes might still smell like spicy mulled wine and mince pies, the season of overindulgence is officially over. In the meantime, New Year’s resolutions have been set, tested for a few days and maybe already broken.

Exercising more is one of those classic promises most people make to themselves at the beginning of the year. In the last two to three years, the fitness sector has seen the rise of a high-intensity workout trend, with exercise classes becoming more and more extreme in a bid to appeal to fitness fanatics.

London-based fitness chain Gymbox’s new Flatline class claims to be so tough that participants must sign a disclaimer beforehand. Paramedics and a cardiologist are also on site in case of emergency medical situations and a compulsory oxygen station has been installed as part of the cool-down. The 45 minutes class sees participants wear a 12kg weighted vest, while carrying out a series of activities including kettle bell thrusts, atlas stone throws, weighted rope climbs and box jump burpees, concluding with a 45-metre sprint while carrying two ammo cans.

However, keeping up with January’s good intentions in the long run is often harder than it looks. Research by Mintel highlights a lack of motivation as the leading factor hindering people from maintaining good fitness habits throughout the year. In fact, one in three describe it as the main reason why they struggle to exercise on a regular basis, followed by tiredness, the high cost of gym/exercise classes and a lack of time. Moreover, not everyone is looking for physically demanding fitness classes and the industry’s increasing emphasis on higher and higher intensity workouts may be intimidating and off-putting for many. Far from motivating people to give exercise a go this January, the boastings of these hyper intense classes could instead discourage people from going to the gym at all. It turns out there is nothing easier than demotivating the already unmotivated.


It is crucial to move away from marketing that gives rise to the subtext “exercise is hard”, and instead use a language that makes exercise more approachable to the majority of adults who need help getting motivated.

With 12% of people claiming they feel too self-conscious to exercise, it makes sense to help them set their own realistic goals, no matter how low-key they might seem to more advanced fitness enthusiasts. “A small victory is still a victory”, as the gym chain Nuffield Health claimed in its 2015 advert, proving that there is now scope for fitness studios to create services that will appeal to fitness beginners – including New Year’s resolutioners – encouraging them to give exercise a go and making going to the gym a less daunting prospect.

Jack Duckett, Consumer Lifestyle Analyst at Mintel, joined the company as a Research Executive in August 2012. At Mintel, he specialises in working on reports for the household and food & drink sectors. Jack also has a keen interest in social media and cultural trends.

Jack Duckett
Jack Duckett

Jack Duckett is an Associate Director for Consumer Lifestyles Research. He specialises in reports exploring the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

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