For many, exercise goals are reserved for the new year or summer vacation. But this summer, the Olympic Games fuelled a whole new level of inspiration—the ‘Olympic effect.’
“How do television and the social media [influence] our understanding of what’s real, what’s possible and how people relate to each other?” asks Janice Forsyth, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western. “It’s tough to say because the Olympics only come around every two years.”
But when they do come around, people are glued to their televisions. Usain Bolt’s 100-metre final, for example, drew in the most viewers with 20 million tuning in. The world’s fascination with the Games has not only affected peoples’ TV-viewing habits, but their fitness goals as well.
Local gyms have experienced the Olympic effect first-hand. Jamie Matte, a fitness instructor at the Athletic Club in North London, noticed her clients’ excitement about the Olympics, and how they channeled that excitement into motivation.
“I think through motivation of [the Olympics] playing the whole summer, people are aspiring to be like these athletes,” she explains.
“You see the commitment that the athletes put through to get to the highest level and it’s just nice to see and watch all their hard work pay off—seeing great performances,” agrees Matt Poulin, former captain of the Mustangs volleyball team, who, after watching the Olympics this summer, has decided to pursue a professional volleyball career.
“Originally, I decided I wasn’t going to pursue a professional career and that I just wanted to play at Western, finish my time and go on,” he says. “But after watching the Olympics, […] it just gave me a second wind to motivate myself to be the best that I can actually be.”
The Olympic effect has not only reached serious athletes, but average gym-goers as well.
“I know that, from within the gym, it’s kind of motivating the average person—not even people who are super fit already, but everyday average people that were coming in for a couple classes a week, or were coming in once a week,” Matte observes. “They aren’t saying [the Olympics] is what’s making them come to the classes, but they are definitely talking about it.”
But as the Olympic hype dies down, will peoples’ fitness motivation levels die too? Matte doesn’t think so.
“Whenever you get inspiration from something it always stays in the back of your mind, and I think it’s going to stick around with people who did already receive inspiration from some great athletes,” she concludes. “I think we are going to carry [the motivation from the Olympics] on for a while now.”
—With files from Sumedha Arya