Fitness Through Operant Conditioning

ZooFit is a fun and unique fitness program which I am incredibly proud to share with the world. In the past, I have focused quite a bit on Conservation Fitness. Which is important because it’s one of my three pillars. Conservation Fitness bridges the gap between effort and success. Meet your fitness goals, help save the planet. It’s pretty amazing, really.

But ZooFit does not work with Conservation Fitness alone. The other two pillars are important aspects of zookeeping as well- enrichment and operant conditioning (through positive reinforcement).

I gave Conservation Fitness my almost undivided attention last year. I celebrated Earth Month with 30 Days of ZooFit, and focused on environmental issues. In August, I shared the Principles of Eating Green. There was also a month of Eco-Wellness, where I demonstrated this often under-appreciated topic in fitness can still be connected to conservation. At the AAZK conference, I gave a talk on Conservation Fitness.

This year I have felt compelled to focus a little bit more on the operant conditioning side of ZooFit. How we can develop healthy habits through approximation and shaping, so they actually stick. I want to share how positive reinforcement is not necessarily a burger after the gym. The dozens of lessons I learned as an animal trainer which I applied to my fitness. Going back to kindergarten or lowering criteria to deal with setbacks and plateaus. How to train yourself to break a bad habit, using only positive reinforcement.

And then, bringing it back around and showing how conservation can actually reinforce healthy habits.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed a lot of people asking friends and group forums how to stay motivated. How to make their fitness momentum last. I did my best to share my experience with ZooFit in few sentences, but I realized what I have to say cannot always be contained in 240 characters or in a short paragraph (no one reads novels on Facebook). Which is sorta why I have this blog, amiright?

I will not be doing a “30 days of Operant Conditioning” burst like I have in the past. It’s going to be a crazy summer already, and I don’t really have time or energy for that amount of blogging. But throughout the summer, I am going to tackle most of the topics related to operant conditioning. Things like “Putting Motivation in the Bank”, “Least Reinforcing Scenario in Fitness”, and my favorite “The Burpee Bonus”.

I am doing quite a few talks this year at conferences. A large majority of them will be focused on Fitness Through Operant Conditioning. I have heard many zookeepers wanting to start a fitness program, but don’t have the tools or resources to get started. ZooFit will help them, and teach them to keep it positive.

I am also starting a second summer project (aside from the ZooFit Safari) to be published in August. Currently titled Positive Reinforcement is Not a Burger After the Gym, this book will be a great prelude to my main project. Learn how to get fit in a positive and engaging way, and make it last.

Stay tuned, and thanks for all your support.

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