Personal Trainer and entrepreneur Sal Di Stefano explores the psychology of why so many average folk hate fitness… and the tactics to create real healthy change.

Sal Di Stefano is a personal trainer and co-founder of Mind Pump Media and co-host of Mind Pump, a podcast that is dedicated to providing truthful fitness and health information. He has dedicated decades of his life towards understanding one important thing – how to effectively motivate the average person to consistently commit to fitness without falling off the wagon. In this week’s episode of Generation Iron and Barbend’s The Mike O’Hearn Show, Sal Di Stefano shares the most effective way to make someone who hates working out learn to love fitness.

Mike O’Hearn is one of the most dedicated bodybuilders in fitness today. His passion for fitness, bodybuilding, and health has brought him to do things that the average person would find impossible to dedicate towards. Due to this, O’Hearn has put significant energy into using his platform to educate and inspire others with fitness. But as someone who was essentially born loving bodybuilding – O’Hearn sometimes has a hard time wrapping his head around why the average person hates working out.

That’s where Sal Di Stefano comes in. A personal trainer and media entrepreneur who has dedicated his life towards training both athletes and regular folk. In his early years of personal training, he would recognize the futility in trying to get an average person to stay consistent with fitness. Many would fall off the path and return right back to the same old bad habits.

So Di Stefano dedicated years to better understanding the psychology behind people and fitness. He used what he learned to apply it to his training techniques. He then started a podcast to help spread what he’s learned to the greater public. He’s seen incredible results and hopes to further inspire others to build a healthier psychological relationship to fitness. Let’s jump into what he’s learned in this discussion with Mike O’Hearn.

Most People’s Relationship With Fitness Is Born From Hate, Anger, Or Sadness

One of the most important things that Sal Di Stefano realized is that most average people start working out because of hate, fear, or sadness. A basic example goes something like this: a person is unhappy with the way their body looks. They feel sad and hate their body – and the way other people perceive them because of it. So they start working out to change the body that they hate.

In this example, Sal Di Stefano points out that the basic core relationship to fitness is built on a foundation of hate. The fitness is a chore necessary to fix the thing a person hates about themselves. This is just one example – but it can apply to similar situations. A person who only works out because they have high blood pressure or cholesterol. A person who works out because they want muscle to impress women. The list can go on.

The problem is – creating a relationship based on fixing negative emotions with fitness turns the entire endeavor into something not fun. It’s a chore. It’s a pain in the ass. It’s something the person grows to hate but is necessary. This makes it much easier to make excuses not to do it on unmotivated days. It also makes it easier to completely fall off. If a person achieves losing weight – now they have no motivation to keep working out… until the next time they gain weight again.

Sal Di Stefano’s Game Plan to Change How We Start Our Relationship To Fitness

With this in mind, Sal Di Stefano has dedicated his fitness career towards tactics to help build fitness as a relationship of joy and love. The messaging is all wrong. Doctors warning of heart attacks and health risks turn working out as a necessary evil to live healthy long lives. Are the doctors wrong? No. But the messaging should change.

That’s why Sal Di Stefano focuses on small accomplishments as motivators. If a person can even run for 15 minutes a day – it’s better than nothing. Will 15 minutes per day really change anything? No. But it is a baseline to create a consistent and joyful relationship to fitness. It’s easier to commit to and hopefully overtime they will notice the joyful positives it brings. Perhaps running with a friend provides more time for regular socializing in an otherwise busy day. Perhaps the break from a cell phone or computer can bring a new found joy of being outside in nature during the run.

Eventually, positive relationships are formed with the consistent habit. Then they might start wanting to run for 30 minutes. Or even eventually an hour. Not because someone told them they have to do it. Not because they felt the need to do it to fix themselves. But because they genuinely want to do it. Now they are doing more, actually changing their health, and they’re doing it because they love it. Rather than as a chore.

A Modern World Of Hedonism And Convenience Makes Fitness Harder

The last major point that Sal Di Stefano brings up is the concept of hedonism in today’s developed societies. We are lucky enough to have more conveniences than ever before. But due to this – we see things that bring struggle or inconvenience as inherently bad.

In reality, as Sal Di Stefano points out, struggle can lead to growth and change. Meaningful change that makes us a stronger and eventually happier person. But instant gratification in modern society makes us avoid struggle more now than ever.

In addition to this, the convenience promotes hedonistic tendencies. Sal Di Stefano believes that we far too often associate hedonism with happiness. More is always better. But like all things – we need to consume in moderation.

Many average people who struggle with weight or overall health are people who may eat or snack – not because they are hungry – but because they like the way the food tastes. We consume more than we need because we want the pleasure of good tasting stuff. This is a hedonistic relationship with food.

For those who do find fitness and change their diet and lifestyle – it’s clear that one can live just as happily without those hedonistic tendencies. But it’s a hard habit to break. Which is why Sal Di Stefano focuses on small positive accomplishments and building a fitness relationship out of joy. It’s a slower path – but one that has more lasting effects on a person’s relationship to fitness, food, and health.

Wrap Up

Sal Di Stefano has a wealth of knowledge and goes into extreme detail during his discussion with Mike O’Hearn. We couldn’t recap it all in this write up – but you can watch the full podcast interview in the latest Mike O’Hearn Show above. Make sure to check back every Friday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded!

Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.