I’ve received an interesting question the other day. This person wanted to know what drives me to push myself further than a normal gym-goer to become a strongman.
Below is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I already talked about before, but I thought it would be good to include it again in order to answer this question.
Most people involved in fitness only focus on lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, whereas I tend to focus mostly on the upper part and that makes the whole difference. Lets dive deeper into these five different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy.
The lowest level represents physiological needs like breathing, water and food. Basically, all the stuff you need in order to survive on a daily basis. And movement is one of those things! Even though you might get away with not doing it to some degree, your muscles will eventually atrophy if you stop moving it all together.
Just above physiological needs is safety which represents a shelter, but health also plays an extremely important role in terms of being free from illness and feeling safe that you won’t get a disease. To get to this point, you’ll have to reach at least some level of fitness.
Many are just focusing on two levels mentioned above – they just want to be healthy and safe. The next level is love and belonging, which is very important to some and not so much for other people. There are many ways to belong to something. For instance, by looking good you automatically belong to a certain group of people. Vice versa, if you are morbidly overweight, you won’t have the sense of belonging unless everyone around you have the same problem. The importance of this level depends on whether you are self or other people oriented, which also applies to the next level – esteem. For this and similar reasons, people often join groups where they can find those similar to themselves, to experience that feeling of belonging and love. Community of fitness may be of the essence for some, whereas other just like to train by themselves in their own home. So the importance of this aspect primarily depends on your own criteria and values.
Esteem is concerning things like self-esteem, confidence, respect and achievements from and by others. This is pretty important for most people, myself included. When I hit a PR or any type of training goal I feel good and share it on YouTube or Facebook to show people what I’ve done. They congratulate me and I feel good.
But the key point of what drives to me to do what I do lies in the top level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is self actualization. Creativity, morality, problem solving, spontaneity are all connected to self actualization and becoming more of who you really are. Most people don’t consider fitness to be a way of self actualization or anything to do with becoming more of who they truly are. However, for me this holds the truth. Moreover, the fitness aspect is directly connected to my business which makes it even more important, so I can’t simply stop training. That would be a hypocritical thing to do, not doing what I preach, so how can I expect others to follow my advice?
So take some time to think about where your desire for fitness comes from, where does it fit in this hierarchy and what’s important for you personally. If you train using these higher level of needs, you’ll discover that the lack of motivation for training isn’t what you think about, but what ways can you express yourself through your training.