Spinning® phenoms Olivia Ellis and Josh Taylor have set a goal or two in their life – and we bet you have too. But how would you like to embrace your future goals with a newfound sense of motivation and drive? In this special interview in time for the New Year, these two Spinning® gurus will offer you innovative and insightful training tips, stories and advice to help you to home in on those New Year’s goals and resolutions once and for all. But first, a little about our superstars and what they will impart from their unique perspectives….
Meet Olivia Ellis, Spinning® Master Instructor
I’m going to share a positive psychology perspective as it relates to the topics of goal setting, motivation, and competition. In addition to working behind the scenes at Mad Dogg Athletics to produce on-demand rides for Spinning® Digital, I’m currently in my sixth year as a PhD student studying Positive Developmental Psychology. The goal with this form of psychology is not to ignore the negative, but to shed light on an entire body of psychology that could be preventative in nature and enhance quality of life. The goal is to take something that’s working well and make it better through small changes that build resiliency and greater motivation.
I became super passionate about Positive Development Psychology through physical activity. To me, the coolest part of fitness is seeing people enter the gym and then leave so much happier and in a better mood. It’s a reminder that there are steps we can take as fitness professionals to enhance our clients’ positive feelings.
I got interested in indoor cycling when I started taking cycling classes for fun in high school. After graduation, I went on a trip with my mom to Mexico where I met a gal hiking who asked me if I would ever consider becoming a Spinning® instructor. Her words changed my life forever because she gave me the courage to sign up for the Spinning® Instructor Certification!
FOLLOW IN OLIVIA'S FOOTSTEPS TO BECOME A CERTIFIED SPINNING® INSTRUCTOR TODAY!
Meet Josh Taylor, Spinning® Senior Advisor and Brand Ambassador
I’ll offer technical training and skills-based stories and advice around goal setting to fire you up to crush those 2023 goals! You may know that I was a pro biker racer, but what actually got me into riding a bike was the freedom of it as a child. I actually taught myself to ride a bike by holding onto a fence on the sidewalk!
I remember during high school as a Junior Olympic volleyball player, a coach once told me I needed greater endurance, so I bought a bike. I’d go out after high school classes and ride for 30 minutes – it totally enhanced my endurance. But that wasn’t the end game…riding a bike applied to volleyball. Having a balance between explosive power and giant cardio training was the key to my volleyball success too.
Then as a senior in high school, I started going to the T-town Velodrome in Trexlertown, PA where a pro bike racer coached a class that taught me about competitive cycling – and how to be great at it. Long story short, I ended up going full-gas into racing bikes. I wasn’t the most physically talented person, but I applied myself. This was something I learned through sports – you’re only as strong as your weakest link -- so train that weak link through hard work and application.
From there, I quickly became a Category 1 racer, and a year later, I signed with a pro cycling team. Insert the next 15 years of my life. Ironically, I ended up getting into Spinning® at the same time. The cool thing with Spinning® was that I had this winter indoor cycling activity to do that would also afford me the chance to race my bike in the summer months. It all fit well together.
What I quickly realized about Spinning® was that it offered me the chance to work on my mental game through physical challenge. That was something I had never experienced in a fitness class! I really took to the mental and even spiritual aspects of Spinning®. The question I learned to ask myself was, “How I could be stronger mentally – especially with affirmations – on the bike?”
Awesome, Olivia and Josh. Let’s talk about goal setting first. It can be challenging to break through New Year’s barriers to accomplish goals. What can you share that would help people achieve what they set out to do in 2023?
Olivia: We might go into the New Year thinking we want to get healthier, lose weight, or ride a Spinner® bike more – but sometimes if the goal is too broad it can be hard to see progress, which can be demotivating.
So, for example, a non-specific goal would be: “I am never going to eat chocolate again!”
Let’s reframe that goal to make it super specific and measurable: “For the next five days, in place of chocolate ice cream, I’m going to have fruit after dinner for dessert.”
Now you may have a longer-term goal of losing 10 pounds in four months, but having this short-term dessert goal will help set you up for long-term success. It’s actually through short-term goals that we create positive feedback loops along the way to a bigger goal. This is called the upward spiral of motivation.
Josh: Specificity has also always been very important to me. I suggest you ask yourself: What do I like to do specifically? What are parts of Spinning® -- the little nuances -- that you really love? Find the things that you specifically enjoy and do them.
I love the measurable aspects of Spinning® with all the fantastic technology available. Even if I don’t see the “big” numbers I used to see when I was a young bike racer, I love to know where I’m at now. With the technology we now utilize, you can legitimately say, “This is where I’m at.”
IF YOU LOVE TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS LIKE JOSH, YOU'LL WANT TO CONNECT TO THE NEW SPINNING® APP STAT!
I’m also a big fan of making a goal attainable. For me at the moment, that’s three hours on the bike per week -- minimum. Anything beyond that is a bonus. And it’s so cool to see that goal achieved with concrete measurements. If I’m using an app like Zwift or Strava, I can glance down and see how many hours I’ve done each week. What I love about these apps is that you can set hour or distance goals too. Pretty sweet.
Sustainability is also key to goal setting. Just get the hours in that you set for yourself. Move some stuff around, move the pedals around. Lock into a reasonable amount of time per week…and over four weeks, you will start seeing a change – that’s the hook.
Now let’s discuss the best way to motivate yourself toward your new year’s goal…
Olivia: When talking about motivation, it’s important to keep the activity in mind because it’s going to influence the type of motivation we pull from – and whether we need to set a short- or long-term goal to achieve it. Remember that motivation drives overall behavior. So, for physical activity goals – ask yourself what motivates you.
Does doing the activity make you intrinsically happy? If so, that’s called autotelic. These are activities we do for the sake of doing because they’re enjoyable to us. For some people, cycling might be an autotelic activity because they love it. The activity of cycling itself is the end goal. For that reason, short-term goals may not be as important.
However, if someone thinks an activity is boring, short-term goals are even more important because of that upward spiral of motivation we talked about. If the activity itself isn’t very rewarding, set short-terms goals to hook yourself into the positive behavior loop.
Josh: Motivation can be a dangerous word. Some people say: “I’m not motivated.” Well, what does that mean? The truth is there will be some days when you just don’t want to do the work. Some days, it’s just good enough to show up to do the work even if you don’t feel motivated to do it.
Most often, I literally love getting out on my bike. In fact, there have probably been thousands of days when I just got on the bike -- not to get a workout or train – but just because I wanted to ride and feel my heart rate coming up. So yes, cycling is autotelic for me. But there are plenty of times when I don’t want to do it either, and I say to myself, “You need this.” The truth is you don’t have to be motivated all the time to see gains and progress, but you do have to commit to doing the work.
Often if you just put your cycling shoes on, sit on the bike for minute and see what happens…the urge to ride will come. Humans crave movement.
Olivia: What Josh just said is important. We want to minimize barriers to achieving goals – so put your shoes out, get your Spinner® bike ready, make sure your devices are charged. Do what you need to do so that when it’s time to ride, all you have to do is hop on the bike.
Remember that it’s how we respond to the barriers that matters in terms of maintaining motivation and continuing to pursue our goals. Behaviors, thoughts and emotions are all related; and it can be easy to go in a downward spiral if we aren’t “successful,” so remove as many barriers as possible.
Josh: Remember too, that stuff just happens. That’s part of life as well as even a good training program. Every road has a pothole somewhere. So, if I could offer a few more motivational thoughts, I’d say:
- Take the good with the bad.
- Stay consistent with your training.
- Remember that a few steps back are still part of the process to moving forward.
- Know it’s also OK to take a rest.
What do you think about the notion of competition as it relates to achieving goals?
Olivia: Well, let’s look at competition in terms of motivation first, because there’s some interesting research that argues that being intrinsically motivated toward a goal can be more helpful in the long-run. A yearly Energy Conservation Competition held at Princeton University called “Do-It-In-the-Dark” campaign challenged students to see who could conserve the most energy. And because it was a competition, the teams reduced energy over the period of the competition. However, after the competition ended, the participants lacked the intrinsic motivation to continue with their progress. (van der Linden, S. (2015). Intrinsic motivation and pro-environmental behaviour. Nature Climate Change, 5(7), 612-613.)
So, for short-term goals, competition can be great. But if you compare the success gained from a competition to creating a goal around something intrinsically rewarding, there might be a difference in long-term success.
If you want to do a competition with family and friends to start the New Year strong – like how much time you log on the Spinner® bike -- that could be helpful, but be sure to think past the competition. How can you make the activity something that you will stick to because you intrinsically enjoy it?
Josh: Personally, competition has always been a huge motivator for me because it instills focus. Competitions have been great short- and long-term goals for me, but like everyone, fitness must be a lifelong pursuit -- so we still need look beyond the finish line. And getting to that finish line requires a lot of little short-term goals along the way.
In the Zwift Racing Leagues that I compete in, I have also had to prepare myself to modify my goals. Just finishing in the top fifty is good for me now – I would have never settled for that when I was younger.
Olivia: It’s important to take note of what Josh said. He is competing against comparable level people and also still modifying his goals. So, this goes back to setting specific goals. Your goals need to be enough to motivate you, but not too challenging or too easy to demotivate you.
Josh: Yes, definitely be honest with yourself. As long as it keeps you going – it’s a good goal. That said, competition will bring out something in you that you didn’t know you had. It will make most people go further than they thought they could. So aim high, but be sure to set up little goal posts along the way.
And with that, we set you forward into 2023 – hoping that you feel more confident and capable of crushing all those dreams and goals in the New Year! Saddle up!