// Perspective – the power of extraordinary goals

Perspective features the opinions of prominent people in the fitness industry. Here Di Westaway, former Fitness Leader of the Year and managing director of Wild Women On Top, reveals how extraordinary goals can unleash the exercise wonder drug.

I may not be a doctor or a pharmacist, but I am in no doubt that exercise is a wonder drug – and unlike most drugs, its side effects are all positive! The endorphin rush we experience after a sunrise jog, a sweaty weights session, a wild walk or an energising pump class makes us buzz. People want what we, as exercise professionals, have got, and I believe it is our obligation – and mission – to share this gift of health in the most passionate, engaging way we can.

The inspiring leadership we witness from the leading lights of our industry; the passion that bursts forth from FILEX delegates every year: we must harness this powerful motivating energy and apply it to our own lives, so we are living testament to our clients of the power of the wonder drug.

Goals of weight loss and fitness are often not enough to motivate people to change habits. We must inspire our clients to motivate themselves with extraordinary goals, so they bounce out of bed, eat healthy food, have something exciting to look forward to and release the wonder drug of exercise every day. Their goal might be weight loss, but we must show them the bigger picture – making health a way of life.

Extraordinary goals – like climbing a mountain – motivate clients to commit and put in more effort. We must teach our clients that if they really want to achieve their goals they should be specific and written; planned; recorded; emotionally and financially engaged, and family-supported. Our clients are more likely to work through setbacks and less likely to give up when chasing an extraordinary goal. Most importantly, such targets will induce them to change behaviours that don't comply with their goal, such as the smoker who quits his habit in order to trek to Everest Base Camp.

The importance of leading by example, by setting your own challenging goals, cannot be overstressed. Personal experience has taught me to turn obstacles into opportunities. For ten years I had been training to climb Mt Everest. At Advanced Base Camp, 6,500m above sea level in Tibet, I got pulmonary oedema (fluid on the lungs) and had to make a premature descent. I was devastated. Then I became determined to turn this heartbreaking obstacle around.

I spent five long days, including Mothers Day, imprisoned at Base Camp, contemplating my plan. I realised my mission was to make the Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek a sell-out event which changed thousands of lives. Less than a year later, our team had motivated 700 trekkers to get fit for a 50 to 100 kilometre coast trek and raised nearly a million dollars to restore sight in third world countries.

Listen to your clients, find out what interests them, and help them find their own extraordinary goal. It might be the Coastrek team challenge, the Crossfit Games, The Gong Ride, the Hawkesbury River Classic, the Gold Coast Marathon, the Kokoda Trail or climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.

Sydney Coastrek – an extraordinary goal!

The Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek, 50-100k Team Challenge on 2 March 2012, is a great way to motivate your clients.

Organise a team of four, at least half of whom must be women, and start getting them excited now because entries open 21 September at www.Coastrek.com.au and last year's event filled up in weeks!

Once they have decided on their extraordinary challenge, teach them how to prepare for it, how to remain free of injury, and how to develop the strength and fitness needed to achieve their goal. And if you can find them a team goal so their experience becomes social, you'll be maximising both their enjoyment and their chance of success.
I encourage you to take up the challenge of inspiring your clients to achieve extraordinary goals – making fitness and health a way of life in the process. They will love the feeling that comes from being fit and healthy; love the wonder drug that is unleashed by their extraordinary goals.

'Each of us should have his or her own Everest – a testing place in any endeavour where the goal is almost, but not quite, beyond reach. When you take on a great challenge and persevere, you discover that your abilities are more than you ever imagined, enabling you at times to accomplish the "impossible". A life lived in this way is infinitely fulfilling. It resonates with a primitive human instinct.'
Ken Kamler, Doctor on Everest

Di Westaway, BEd Grad Dip (Journ)
Di has been involved in the fitness industry for 30 years, as a coach, a presenter and the founder of Wild Women On Top. In 2009 her team created the Sydney Coastrek 50-100k Team Challenge, raising nearly $1 million for The Fred Hollows Foundation. Di recently released her book Wild Women On Top: How to Prepare for World Class Treks and, when her kids give their permission, she still plans to climb Mt Everest. For more information, visit www.WildWomenOnTop.com