Nine ways to summon the motivation when you just. don't. feel. like. it.
It’s hard enough to motivate yourself to get out of bed on dark, cold mornings, let alone force yourself to put on a workout outfit and get to the gym. We know. You’ve got goals this year. Like watching the entire season of The Crown in one sitting. (We jest, but not really.) Beyond that, you probably have resolutions to “stay fit and healthy” like one third of Americans tend to say come January. But if you’re going to stick with your promises past the New Year, you’ll need to find the drive to keep going—especially on those days when you really, really don’t feel like working out. Here, nine fitness professionals share fresh ways to get motivated to exercise.
Tell Yourself You’ll Do 12 Minutes
“I always tell clients to just turn on their favorite music and focus on 12 to 20 minutes of exercise. They don’t have to exercise more than that if they don’t feel like it. Guess what happens? The 12-minute person does 20 minutes of exercise. The person who said they’d only do 20 minutes does 30 to 40 minutes.”
—Glenn Greer, CPT, Co-Owner of RedZone Fitness, in Coral Gables, Fla.
Create a Target Gift
“This can be a weekly or monthly gift and the ‘reward’ can be anything from a fancy latte at your favorite coffee shop to a new pair of shoes you’ve been wanting but haven’t treated yourself to. Place a jar somewhere visible. Every time you work out, put a dollar or two in the jar. The more you exercise, the more money you'll have toward your goal gift. Knowing there is a reward at the end of your sweat sesh is always motivating.”
—Nicole Handler, NASM CPT, runner, CrossFitter, blogger at FitfulFocus.com
Commit to a Goal
“Whether it’s a goal like running your first marathon, touching your toes in yoga, doing five pull-ups in a row, or simply meeting a friend for an afternoon hike, committing to something holds you accountable. Who in your life holds you accountable to being your best self—and applies the same standards to herself? Commit to that friend. Similarly, when the weeks start getting closer to a race I’ve signed up for, I know I can’t slack. Sometimes on particularly lazy days, I’ll register for a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class at the local gym. Paying for it ensures I’ll show up, and I’m grateful every time.”
—Noa Ries, certified personal trainer, and CEO of Vie Active
Shift Some Habits
"Write down five habits you must change to achieve your goal. Some examples: setting out your exercise clothes and your work clothes the night before, scheduling someone to watch your kids so you can go to the gym, packing your lunch in the morning so you can spend your lunch break exercising, disabling phone notifications while you’re exercising, and making sure you’ve had a snack an hour before working out so you have the energy to power through. The habit changes need to be realistic and achievable."
—Dan Reardon, CEO and Co-Founder of FitnessGenes
Remember the ‘Why’
“Any particular day there might be 20 other things I’d rather do than go work out. Then I think of my ‘why,’ and I encourage you to ask yourself ‘why,’ too. My ‘why’ is to be the best version of myself I can be, including husband, role model, and teammate. That matters more than the 20 other reasons—so I go work out!”
—Joel Freeman, Beachbody Super Trainer, and Co-Creator of Core De Force
Find Ways to Make Workouts Fun
“I turn my workout into a social play date. I'll text a friend to meet up with me at a yoga or cycling class with the promise of iced coffee after—caffeine and quality time are hard to refuse! Once you're accountable to someone else, it's hard to cancel on them and yourself!”
—Kristin Calabria, trainer at Box + Flow studio, New York City
Make Your Goals Visual
“The first step is to determine a goal related to fitness/weight loss that you’re excited about (for example, 5K, beach vacation, wedding, etc.). Then, put a photo related to that goal as your screensaver on your smartphone. When you feel like you’d rather be couch sitting instead of exercising, take a look at your phone and let the screensaver remind you of your goal. Plus, we all look at our phones so often that a screensaver will be a constant reminder of what you’d like to achieve. The goal should be something that has a short timeline. An event that occurs within the next three months is more motivating than something that happens next year.”
—Sabrena Jo, ACE Senior Exercise Scientist, Lawrence, Kan.
Put Some Money Behind It
“Book a class in advance and try to make it a social event so you’re more likely to stick to your plan. If you invest money ahead of time—and you’ll lose that money if you skip the class—you’ll be more likely to partake in the activity, even if you’d rather be on your couch watching Netflix this winter. Talk to the instructors at your gym to help you find a fitness class geared towards beginners that will tone the body and decrease body fat to maximize your time and fitness while you’re there!”
—Tom Hemmings, Personal Trainer, Fitness Operations & Training Supervisor at Sea Island Resort
Remember How You Feel When It’s Over
“My best tip or trick to stay motivated to workout when I’m not in the mood is to remember how good I always feel after I’m done. I’m always more energized, less stressed and overall happier after my workouts!”
—Jericho McMatthews, Beachbody Super Trainer and Co-Creator of Core De Force