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I have been an enthusiastic gym user for a number of years now, but it hasn’t always been that way. I used to hate the gym, and would feel really demotivated at the thought of exercise.

So what changed? Well I offered myself as a case study for three of my fabulous NLP Practitioner students to practise on. The solutions that Dorothy, Vicky and Valerie came up with were fantastic, and long-lasting.


The first thing they did was to discover that when I thought of the gym or exercise, I used to created a picture in my mind’s eye that was flat, colourless and lifeless. I had made the very thought itself unappealing.

In NLP, the qualities of our mental pictures – such as colour, sound, movement or size – are called Submodalities, and even though we are not usually consciously aware of them, they have a massive impact on the way that we react to any thought.

My students took the time to discover contrasting submodalities used by someone who loves exercise. Vicky was a great exemplar, as she is fit and active, and supports others to achieve a healthy lifestyle. It turned out that when Vicky thinks about the gym she mentally creates a vibrant, lively, colourful image. You can imagine how that thought in itself would be more attractive than mine.

Using an NLP process called “Mapping Across”, they helped me to change my submodalities to be as vibrant and lively as Vicky’s.

To help to cement the feeling, they then anchored a set of positive and self-motivating feelings. They discovered that however bad I feel before the gym, I always feel good afterwards. Cleverly, Dorothy used the gym turnstyle as my trigger, so that each time I enter the gym, I feel positive and self-motivated. Then, when I leave the gym full of post-exercise motivation, I reinforce my anchor as I go back out through the turnstyle.

Finally, Valerie coached me through a set of Well-Formed Outcomes about my health and well-being to help cement all the changes.

I have been going to the gym regularly ever since this process. As a real-life “client” for my students, they will have got loads of benefits, and so have I.

If you’d like to learn more about these techniques, how you can use them for yourself and to help others, then you might be interested in our NLP Courses. Click here for more information.

Or to work on your own self-development, treat yourself to our 4-day Personal Development Retreat “Illuminate Your Future” in Fuerteventura. Click here for more information.

‚ÄčAbout Madeleine Allen: The author is a specialist in Leadership, Communication and Personal Development for business professionals. An NLP Trainer and Master Practitioner she conducts in-house corporate training (learn more at www.allentraining.co.uk) and public courses in NLP (learn more at www.nlpedinburgh.co.uk)