As I was responding to Becca, I realized there are quite a few things I do when I’m not feelin’ the workout mojo flowing and I wanted to share them with you guys today. It is my hope that they might help you when you’re looking for ways to motivate yourself to exercise.
I’d also love to open up the comments section so you guys may chime in with tips and tricks you rely on when you find yourself needing a little somethin’ extra to commit to regular work outs. Please share your thoughts so we can all benefit!
How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out
Lean Into the Break
This one may surprise you but, more often than not, embracing a break from exercise and leaning into a longer period of rest is all I need to feel the desire to work out again. After an extended period of time away from my workouts, I typically find myself missing the endorphins, the sweat, the muscle burn… all of it! I honestly love feeling this way because it reminds me that I work out because it’s something I genuinely like to do for my body and after some time away, I often return to my workouts with renewed excitement and energy. A long break can be a good thing!
Schedule Something Fitness-Related with a Friend
This is a huge one for me! I am admittedly a bit of a people pleaser and reaching out to a friend and committing to a boot camp class, long walk or a gym date is a surefire way for me to make sure I don’t miss a workout. I’d feel too bad canceling so I know I’ll show up if I have another person counting on me! Doing something with another person always keeps me accountable and can jumpstart my workout motivation.
Look for a Program to Follow
For me personally, my excitement around working out can sometimes increase if I have a program to follow that takes any of the planning/guesswork out of my workouts. This could be ANYTHING — a strength training program, a couch-to-5k run/walk program, etc. — whatever excites you!
I purchased and followed Trainer Paige’s Postpartum Program after Rhett was born and credit her program with helping me make a safe return to fitness. Having specific workouts created for me to follow increased my motivation and also helped me feel accountable to both myself and Paige.
Only Do Workouts You Love
This is one I really leaned into after I gave birth to Rhett. Something about adding a third child into our family seemed to make finding the time and desire to work out much harder for me. I gave myself a LOT of grace and motivated myself to workout by only doing workouts I love during the small amounts of free time I have to dedicate to exercise. For me, this looks like strength training and Burn Boot Camp workouts. They’re workouts I genuinely love to do so completing them doesn’t feel like a chore but rather something good I’m doing for my body.
In case you’re looking for ideas for new workouts to try, here are a few favorites I’ve loved through the years: BodyPump, Jazzercise (I cannot recommend this enough for anyone looking for a workout that feels like a fun dance party — you do NOT have to be coordinated to do it!), spinning, TRX workouts, circuit workout classes and water aerobics. You may also check out my Workouts page for lots of workout ideas — everything from treadmill workouts to bodyweight workouts to core workouts and more!
Check Out a New Online Workout/YouTube Workout Video
(Here is the link to the Flippy pillow stand I use to hold my iPad when I follow online workouts. It’s great!)
YouTube is such a great resource for workouts. It seems like there are workout videos for EVERYTHING under the sun and so many of them are free! When I am finding myself feeling less-than-motivated and have zero desire to put any thought or energy into planning a workout, pulling up a workout video to follow online is very helpful to me. Some of my favorite YouTube workout channels: Caroline Girvan, Nicole Pearce, Nourish Move Love, Burn Boot Camp, Fitnessista and Jessica Valant Pilates.
Focus on Movement Above All
This is one that became crucial for me after we had our third baby. I couldn’t fit traditional workouts into my life as frequently as I did before kids. It just wasn’t possible and I refused to run myself ragged trying to add workouts into my life when I was already overwhelmed and tired. Shifting my definition of “exercise” away from traditional workouts and onto overall movement was pivotal. I began counting walks with my boys as workouts and that helped me feel a sense of accomplishment whereas years ago I never would’ve considered a long walk around our neighborhood as a workout.
My fitness mindset has shifted rather dramatically in recent years and while focusing on movement over workouts may not be the “advice” you’d expect in a post about workout motivation, I wanted to include it because sometimes shifting the way we look at what exactly we consider a workout can be helpful. Movement and walking absolutely count toward an overall healthy lifestyle and the more I’ve read and learned about fitness and overall longevity the more I fully believe walking is one of the absolute BEST forms of exercise out there. Walk and move your body! It counts!
Questions of the Day
What is something you do to motivate yourself to workout?
How do you get yourself out of a funk when you’re feeling less than motivation to exercise?
What is one workout you genuinely love to do?
Loved this! I work in a gym (group exercise/personal trainer/desk worker) and I think it amazes people that I’m not ALWAYS motivated. One thing that helps me stay active is that I make my workouts as easy to access as possible. I don’t like running outside in the winter because it’s too much gear to haul around, so I stick to the treadmill instead until it warms up. When the gyms were closed, I had borrowed some equipment from the gym but got tired of hauling it out and putting it away for every workout, so for a while, I exclusively did bodyweight work because I only needed my mat! The easier I make it TO workout, the more inclined I am to do it 🙂
When I worked at the gym, I often found it harder to stay motivated because it felt more like a “job” and something I was ready to be done with at the end of my shift. Working out before work was key for me during this time in my life (if possible, that is — it wasn’t possible during 5 a.m. shifts, that’s for sure)!
Buuut is was really nice to be paid to work out when I was teaching fitness classes! Teaching classes was a lot easier for me from a workout motivation standpoint than just working at the gym/personal training clients.
I open the gym, so I miss the days of working out before work but I’ve learned to embrace the afternoon workouts.
Yes! It’s such a perk. I count my group exercise classes as bonus workouts, and have been focusing on setting my own goals for workouts I do on my own, not just relying on classes to keep my activity up so that I can keep “work” and “exercise” separate. I’m safe about it (I primarily lead spin classes so I do my own walking cardio that day and run on off days only).
I know today’s post was about workout motivation, but I’d be interested to read one from a gym worker’s POV on finding a balance between their own workouts and leading classes. Working out is such a mental release for me, but I’m always trying to remain conscientious about not overdoing it.
These are great ideas! I’ve really struggled since having my son. We cosleep, which means most nights I’m not getting a great sleep. I used to run 6 days a week, plus strength train, but have now settled for Pilates or a 20 minute ride on my spin bike. I motivate myself by telling myself I’ll feel more awake and better afterward. I can find energy for a shorter spin ride or for pilates but I find much more drains me instead of energizes me these days. This seems to be my sweet spot.
To be honest, I’ve really struggled postpartum to find motivation, time and energy to workout. I’ve always loved running but to maximize my time I might need to try more strength training as I know how important this is for my health.
I’m currently pregnant with our second so I’m hoping to have a plan going into this next postpartum period and to regain my love of working out. I couldn’t find the Trainer Page Post Partum workouts on her site. If it’s still available, could you please post a link to if?
The postpartum period of life is no joke. Finidng the time, energy and motivation workout is a challenging trifecta. I feel for you on this one for sure. <3
As for Paige's program, it's the 12-week postpartum program mentioned here: https://www.yourtrainerpaige.com/work-with-me/ You have to reach out to her directly to begin and can do so via the contact form on her site, I believe! (I sent her an Instagram DM and then we corresponded via email from there.) --> https://www.yourtrainerpaige.com/contact/
Ah, got it! Thanks so much!!
This is going to sound totally kooky but thank you for using the two terms “work out” and “workout” distinctly and correctly. Fitness social media so often uses “workout” as verb, noun, and adjective and it’s refreshing to see you use the correct grammar 🙂
Ha! This made me laugh because it is something I’ve noticed as well. Apparently it’s a tricky word. 🙂
YES! It bugs me so much when people use ‘workout’ as a verb instead of a noun. Similar to ‘every day’ vs. ‘everyday’, which also bugs me. Yay for grammar control freaks 🙂
Michelle Barclay says
That fitness mindset shift was KEY for me after having my first baby! The entire world shutting down because of COVID in my third trimester didn’t help…
I focused on walking a lot because we have a beautiful set of walking trails where I live, and it was an activity (and relatively COVID-safe) to do with other moms and babies no matter our fitness levels! Now I’ve switched to morning circuit training workout classes so I’m done before sunrise and I can my evenings on family time!
The key to my workouts is routine. I get up 15 min before my kids, unload the dishwasher, get the kids up and then we all go to the basement to work out. The kids play while I work out. Most days it’s strength training, but if I have no energy from being up a lot with a kid overnight, then it’s yoga or a fun walking workout. Routine for me because I know it is part of my day, routine for my kids who are excited because that’s the only time of day they get to play in the basement. I’ve also found some YouTube channels that I really love, that’s key!
I agree on a routine — especially one that your kids know and understand and follow as well!
I’m all about the buddy system. After our gym closed our group got together outside and when winter came (we’re from Wisconsin) we found a free indoor space to use (for FREE!). Thanks for pinterest we had more than enough workout options to use. We’re a very dedicated group and we it has turned into a social group as much as a workout group.
This is so cool! I love that you all came together to create something like this.
Great post! I often will make myself go to the gym… but with no pressure. If I usually go for a run on the treadmill, I’ll tell myself I just need to go and can walk for only 30 minutes. Often when I get there I will be motivated to do more. Sometimes it’ll just taking the pressure off!
*correction- sometimes it’s just taking the pressure off that is helpful!
I love that and agree!! The saying “getting there is half the battle” is so true when it comes to exercise.
Right now I am training for a marathon so following a schedule helps motivate me. It also grades my last 9 workouts so I the type A in me hates to see it not graded well. Rest days are very important to keep me from feeling burnt out. I also love following nourish move love. She has great strength workouts that are 30 minutes and that is the perfect time for me.
These are really good tips!
I find that when I’m not totally in the mood to work out, if I open up my YouTube app and search for a workout video (even with a generic term like ‘cardio’), I inevitably come across something that looks fun to try. I have found soooo many fitness channels on YouTube that I absolutely love, and I’m always excited to see their latest videos. Here are a few I recommend, in case anyone finds this helpful!
1) Action Jacquelyn (mainly barre/booty band workouts)
2) Pamela Reif (quick workouts that are easy to stack together)
3) Kaylie Daniels (yoga flows)
4) Vanji Fitness (lots of HIIT)
5) Heather Robertson (literally every kind of workout)
Sorry, missed that you had shared some of your favorite YouTube channels! Love Caroline Girvan as well.
Your first and last points are SO important and absolutely key to developing and continuing a healthy relationship with movement/our bodies. Even studies show that if you do one hard traditional “workout” a day and then spend the rest of the day sitting…. it’s not super beneficial! Movement, stretching, using our bodies the way they are meant to be used is so powerful.
And I love what you said about embracing rest – not using exercise as a “punishment.”
Buying cute new workout gear is a great motivator for me. And if I’m doing my own workout, a good music playlist or fun podcast for long walks is key. Hilliard Studio Method and Barry’s in CLT are my current favorite group fitness classes — both are AWESOME in totally different ways. Also Sky Cycle (outdoor spin class). So glad there are so many great options here.
Those are all good ideas! When my motivation goes, I’ll try to mix it up. I have classpass and used to use it extensively, now I have the bare bones plan and it’s basically 1 class a month. I’m one of those people that has a favorite (running) but also has exercise ADD and wants to try ALL the classes! So switching it up to barre or a new studio will help.
We also have a Peloton, so if I’m not feeling it, I’ll just take a short 15 min class and I always end up pushing myself. I pick my classes based on music, so it always pumps me up.
Back in college, if I wasn’t feeling like running, I would just hop on the rower for a few mins or the stair climber and then I’d feel motivated, but sometimes I was just done and would go home.
Join a challenge or program. I just did 60 workouts on the Peloton, intensity ranged from intense to easy going, but I was close to the 60 day badge, so I kept going. I also did the Bloom Method’s 4th trimester program before I started returning to exercise. They also have a postnatal challenge as well as monthly workouts programs for those looking for structure.
Love these ideas! My go to YouTube channel is growingannanas. She never repeats exercises which is great so I don’t get bored during workouts!
Hi Julie, this is so random, but I remembered you recently sharing on Instagram about a little girl with a rare genetic health problem. I lost track of that link and have felt God calling me to get off social media for this next season; but had to reach out in case this helps her. I don’t typically do this, but gosh that story…💔
Today I saw an upper cervical chiropractor and have been learning some of the miracles people have been experiencing under good care of this gentle model. This video shares a bit more in case you feel called to pass along to the family or if it might bless someone else. If not, no worries and wishing everyone all the best!! https://youtu.be/0M4d69x1h30
*note: this video talks about regular check ups, but my doctor shared most just get checked once a year.
Julie – thank you so very much for creating an entire post on this topic after I asked you the question. I really appreciate it and it is good to hear that others too struggle like I have been and ways you and they work to regain their fitness momentum. I love that you also suggest leaning into the break – I think my body just needed a rest and so I am going to stop beating myself up about it. I was in Orlando this week with a good friend and every day we went walking – I really enjoyed being in the warm weather with the sun shining! It reminded me how much I love to walk and talk with friends. I am now back home in the northwest suburbs of Chicago (near where you grew up) and this week my goal is to walk despite colder temps and not the best of weather predicted. I am going to focus on remembering how good it does feel to get my walks in and push through the desire to hibernate on the couch. Thank you again for taking the time to put together this post – I definitely will be referring back to it often.
Oh, You’re right. I’m currently up to my ears with work and household chores, but I still set aside time to work out every day (just about 15-30 minutes). Sometimes, I thought I would not take exercise anymore, as I’m to busy with my responsibilities, however I still keep this routine until now since I know that doing workout do not only help me keep fit but also keep me healthy and prevent me from diseases.