When You Don't Have the Motivation to Workout - 7 Strategies to Get You Moving

Oh I feel your pain!  We've all been there before!  You can't quite get yourself motivated to go to the gym, or you want to start working out for the first time in years, but it never seems like the day to start.  First of all, don't beat yourself up!  Each and every one of us have gone through periods where we literally have to drag ourselves to the gym...or we never make it there at all.  Like everything else, we go through cycles.  Sometimes we love working out and can't wait to do it, othertimes we struggle to fit 30 minutes into our schedule.  Here are 7 strategies for breaking through that bubble and enjoying your fitness again!

Find a Friend

This is probably not new at all, but if you are having trouble finding motivation, you really should think about enlisting a friend to work out with.  I love working out with Meg, we work harder and we actually have fun while we work out!  It is easy to talk yourself out of a workout if you are going by yourself, but when you are committed to someone else, you are much more likely to go.  

Think of it as an insurance plan for excuses - when you start to rationalize all the reasons you can't make it, you have someone else that you are responsible to, and you are more likely to push those thoughts out the window and go.  (Here are some other benefits of working out with a friend)

 Working out with a buddy can help you stay motivated!

Working out with a buddy can help you stay motivated!

Find A Class

Don't have a friend?  Don't stress!  Sometimes I think that finding a workout group that meets regularly is just as helpful.  The key is to joining a class that has the same instructors and generally the same clients attending regularly.  Now, instead of feeling accountable to one other person, you feel accountable to a group!  After you attend for a while, you make friends with the other clients and the trainer really gets to know you, that is where meaningful connections are made that will help motivate you to attend.  

My mom went to a fitness class that meet at the same time during the week, because she formed relationships with the other ladies that went during that hour, it became almost as much a social outlet as it did a fitness outlet.  We are much more likely to go when we know people notice we are there and actually take an interest in us.  Classes that are packed with a revolving door of clients, or have different instructors every session, allow too much anonymity to give any motivation not to skip class.  When we have a client missing for a couple of classes, we check in on them and let them know they are missed.  This accountability sends the messages, we care about you and we want you to work out with us. 

Find The RIGHT Class

There are so many different ways to stay physically fit... you need to find the one that's right for you!  If you dread going to class or the gym, think about if perhaps you need to change up what you are doing.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't be challenged, but there are so many ways to exercise your body, working out should not cause you stress or make you miserable.   

My daughters and I enjoy trying out lots of different classes together, Soul Cycle, barre classes, Zumba, Nike Classes...it's fun to try new things.  It always makes me realize that people enjoy different styles, and there are literally so many options...there has to be one that is right for you. For instance, I enjoy taking a barre class or spin type classes every once in a while, but doing that 4 or 5 times a week would not be for me.  Obviously judging from their popularity, it is the perfect fit for tons of people. Keep trying new ones until you find the right one and don't be afraid to give something completely new a try.  Most gyms have a free class trial - shop around until you find one you enjoy.

 Are You Seeing Results

This could go hand in hand with finding the right class.  When we see results of some sort, it helps keep us motivated.  It doesn't have to always be losing weight that motivates us either, realizing that you are getting stronger or more cardiovascullary fit can also be a huge motivator.  For me, when I was first starting my fitness journey, I was contastly in awe of the things my body could do.  I still enjoy pushing myself to see if I can get one more burpee or jump a little higher.  If you are in a place where you aren't seeing any physical changes as a result of your time spent working out, it's easy to lose your drive to continue.  Switching up your workouts and possibly trying something new, may give you some of the changes you need to begin seeing tangible benefits from all of your hard work.  

Reward Yourself

I know this is controversial parenting approach...but I am all about rewarding as a fitness motivator!  When you are stuck in a rut of not wanting to exercise, try rewarding yourself with both little and bigger motivators.  On a small scale, do something after your workouts that you enjoy.  Perhaps it's a yummy protein shake on your way out the door of the gym or an iced green tea from Starbucks.  I have a client that loves Quest Protein Bars.  She will not eat them unless she works out, period.  It may sound silly, but it helps give her the subtle nudge she needs to hit the gym.  Just remember to reward with healthy options so that you don't destroy all the hard work you did by hitting the gym, which means no post workout ice-cream or cheesecake!  

On a larger scale, don't be afraid to reward yourself when you achieve loftier goals.  Setting goals for yourself will help establish the habit of exercising again, but make them realistic enough that you can achieve success.  For instance, maybe your goal is working out three times a week for a month, it helps establish the routine of getting back to the gym, but it's not unrealistic like shooting for every day for a month.  When the goal is too hard, once you break it, the entire source of motivation is lost.  Maybe you reward yourself with a new workout outfit, or a dinner at a restaurant you've been wanting to try, or even a new pair of running shoes.  Something you'd enjoy that will help you reach your goal.  No one knows you better than yourself...pick a reward that will keep you motivated.  

Find a Trainer That’s Right for You

The number one reason people stop going to the gym…is that they get injured.  Having a routine exercise program will make you undeniably healthier, but there is also the potential for injury, especially if correct form is not critical.  I was talking to a friend the other day and his story is not that uncommon - he said his typical workout “cycle” was going to the gym for a month or two, getting injured and recovering for a month, and repeat.  He said he would get hurt about 4 times a year, and eventually he just stopped going.  

Let's face it, it's hard to maintain motivation to hit the gym when you are healthy and injury-free, but when you have to stop working out to recover from an injury, it can really be defeating.  Ask yourself if you need to get a trainer, at least for a while to help you correct form issues and develop a training plan that will maximize benefits and minimize injury.  If you already have a trainer and are constantly hurt, reflect on whether this is the right workout for you?  

Remember, there is a difference between being sore and injured…being sore comes with working out sometimes, injury is something a trainer should avoid at all costs!  The number one rule of training clients is “do no harm”.

 Sometimes finding the time to hit the gym can be hard, try being creative with your schedule and think about squeezing in "at home" workouts when you just can't make it out of the house.

Sometimes finding the time to hit the gym can be hard, try being creative with your schedule and think about squeezing in "at home" workouts when you just can't make it out of the house.

Be Open to Different Workout Times

Sometimes we think that our exercise MUST be first thing in the morning or right after work, but busy schedules and life get in the way.  If you insist the only time you can exercise is before work, and you rarely have time to fit it in, you may need to adjust your expectations.  

Be adaptable - if you can’t get in the workout you had planned, but can go for an evening walk, go for the walk!  It is better than no exercise.  If you know that your evenings will be crazy carpooling kids, try getting up a little earlier and doing an “at home” workout (we have a ton you can do at home with no equipment).  Life is crazy and sometimes when we have a rigid idea of when we should workout, we rob ourselves of opportunities to exercise.  

I have one friend that loved working out in the morning, but with a new job and getting kids ready for school, it became a source of stress.  She got creative with her schedule!  She knew she had to take her kids to soccer practice several times a week, so she found a gym that was right beside their practice facility.  Now, she drops off her kids and fits in a quick workout during the time that would otherwise be wasted.  It’s not the morning workout she loved, but she automatically has a designated workout time without creating added stress in her mornings.

Also, be open to doing workouts at home when your schedule won’t allow you to get to the gym.  If I don’t fit my workout into my day until 9:30 at night, then I do it at 9:30.  It may not be the best time to workout, but if I get it in before midnight, it counts!  

Be Honest With Yourself

Warning, this is when I put on my “bad cop hat” so feel free to skip this one.  Take a minute to honestly reflect on each of the 7 previous strategies for getting yourself motivated to get back to the gym.  What were you saying to yourself as you read through?  Did you have an excuse for why each of them wouldn’t work?  I don’t have any other friends that like to exercise.  I can’t workout when my kids practice, I have to run errand during that time.  I'm afraid to walk into a new class.  I can’t leave my trainer, it would be too hard. 

We could make a list a mile long of things that are important to us, but keeping our bodies healthy should be close to the top.  Out of the 168 hours in a week, how many do you spend watching TV?  Surfing the web?  Working out?  We are all busy people, but finding just three hours in an entire week seems like a feasible task when you consider most Americans spend three hours every night watching TV.  I know you are busy, the truth is we all are. Think about how many past Presidents of the United States that you have seen exercising or running…are you really busier that the President of the United States?   

We have all hit an exercise slump at one time or another, maybe yours has been only a few weeks, but maybe it has been for a few decades.  Either way, its not too late to try some new strategies to get you motivated to started living healthier! 

We’d love to hear from you about what motivates you to get moving?  Share some of your ideas in the comments below to help others get back on track! 


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