Winning at Spinning

The idea of exercising has my whole life been (pardon the pun) an uphill battle. The idea that, after today, you have to do it all again tomorrow seemed silly. But over the years I realised that, at least for me, it is a matter of mind over matter. Here are some things that have helped me along the way…and that is quite appropriate to marketing as well!

The Central Governor theory says that the brain possesses a hypothetical ‘governor’ that limits physical exertion beyond a certain point to prevent damage to vital organs such as the heart. The ‘governor’ seems to err on the side of caution, making you feel more tired than you really are for the sake of survival. The brain therefore looks for cues in the environment to gauge what the safe levels of energy expenditure are. How to override the Central Governor:

  1. The main goal I found should be to firstly create a sustainable habit. Asking yourself what effort you can look forward to even if you do not feel up to it. Then, even on the least pleasant days, you can still do what you set out to do.
  2.  One of the most powerful cues I have found is feedback from is the computer screen on the treadmill or rowing machine showing exertion level from moment-to-moment, total calories and time.
  3.  Managing expectations is important. There are numerous factors that influence desire for exercise and performance on a daily basis, such as sleep, diet, mood, time of day etc. Because the Central governor wants to prevent overexertion, it will initially see all these variables as a signal that you should not exercise…or at least not at your usual level. If you know exactly what your goal is beforehand (in terms of type of exercise, level of effort and time duration) repeating the same exercise regime becomes increasingly easier as the neural pathways become stronger and stronger. Your body starts seeing all the environmental variables considered by the Central Governor that affects your desire to exercise as just ‘noise’ and not as ‘signal’ that you might overexert yourself.

I think as the brain is an active meaning-making machine; constantly looking for cues in the environment and the body (mood, satiety etc.). But in the end, it might just ensure your survival.  

The brain uses the same principles for exercise when it comes to marketing: it uses cues provided by the environment to determine if it’s getting a good deal. ‘5-star’ reviews by other customers is automatically seen as a great product. Or a ‘50% discount? What a bargain at R150! If something costs less than it used to, then surely it must be a great deal. Consumers take context into account, whether they want to or not. It is automatic and persistent. There are many, many more examples, but the figure below illustrates this point quite nicely:



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