History of the Motivation Check


Physical Training, or PT, is a City Year tradition which we use to get our bodies and minds energized for a powerful day of service.  We at City Year Washington, DC pride ourselves on having excellent PT.  One of our signature PT moves is the Motivation Check, which was created by current program manager Gavin Ware.  Below is Gavin’s account of the birth of the Motivation Check. 

The idea for the “Motivation Check” began at a job I had before City Year. This job was 100% commission so the energy, encouragement and overall office morale was extremely important to the company’s success in sales. Motivation Check at that time was a chant that was mildly inappropriate and very energized. After leaving that job, I had no need for that type of motivation, vowing that I would never work in that kind of job/industry ever again.

After about a year I started working at City Year Washington, DC. The first time I witnessed PT, during Basic Training Academy of my corps year (’10-’11), I immediately thought of ways to incorporate “Motivation Check” into the City Year culture. I presented it to PT leadership before auditioning for PT Crew, and then during my audition.  At the time they loved the idea, yet Motivation Check never made it into a Unity Rally that year. However, after demonstrating the Motivation Check to my Ferebee-Hope team and being the point person for organizing our PT routine for the competition at Advanced Training Retreat the same year, the Motivation Check was officially born. The Ferebee-Hope team took away the first win in the first annual PT Competition.

The following year (’11-’12), Director of School Partnerships Michael Stevens asked me to bring out Motivation Check to hype up our site at Summer Academy [a week-long training retreat in Boston for City Year staff and senior corps from across the network]. Motivation Check’s popularity spread faster than anyone ever expected. It was being done as a power greeting daily and as a part of site final circles on some evenings. At the last Unity Rally of Summer Academy that year, Program Director Neils Ribeiro-Yemofio suggested that we introduce Motivation Check to the network. Unity Rally that day was electric, and so was the vibe across the network. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.


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