workout motivation

6 Ways to Motivate Yourself To Exercise

It’s currently recommended that you should get in at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. that’s about 20 minutes every day. However, about half of American adults are failing to meet this goal.

With our busy lives, it’s hard to find the motivation to get off the couch and work out. Or to head to the gym after a long day of work. We get it, so we’ve outlined six easy ways you can start motivating yourself to get the recommended amount of physical activity!

1. Set Small Fitness Goals

Have you ever set a large goal to lose 50 pounds, run a marathon, or have six-pack abs? Thinking about actually taking the necessary steps to achieve these goals may seem so difficult and daunting that you lose all motivation to even try. Setting the bar too high may make your fitness goals seem out of reach or even unattainable.

Instead, try setting smaller that will eventually lead up to your larger goal. For instance, rather than trying to “lose 50 pounds” all at once, start by trying to lose 5% of your body weight. Instead of running a marathon, set a goal to run one mile, then two, then three, etc, without stopping.

Progress is not instant. It’s not one giant leap that’s going to take you to reach your goals. It’s going to be a collection of baby steps, such as jogging for 10 minutes or doing five push-ups every day.

2. Short Workouts Count Too

There may be times when you don’t feel like doing a long, difficult workout. Or maybe you had a long day at work and don’t want to drive over to the gym and spend another hour there. Getting in 15 or 20 minutes of exercise is still better than nothing. Also, you can still get an intense workout in that shorter timeframe.

Squeezing in these short workouts, even if it’s just at home, is an easier task to tackle because they seem less of an effort than committing to a long workout session at the gym or a yoga class at a studio. But you can still get a solid workout in, and still feel great about yourself.

3. Find a Workout Partner or Fitness Tribe


“A workout buddy can help because it encourages people to make connections with others who share common values and are pursuing similar goals,” says Philip M. Wilson, PhD, associate professor of Kinesiology at Brock University in Ontario, Canada.

If you need a little extra push in the motivation department, scheduling regular workouts with a friend, personal trainer, or group can make a significant impact in helping you stick to your workout regimen. You’ll be less likely to hit snooze or skip the gym after work if you know you’ve committed to meeting someone else to workout together.

Having someone next to you cheering you on can be an excellent motivator. Not only does it hype you up, but it also pushes you to keep going when you feel like quitting! 

“We do know that just to get out there and to exercise, having other people or being part of a group can help get you off the couch,” says Deborah Feltz, PhD, a distinguished professor of Kinesiology at Michigan State University and author of numerous fitness studies.

“Having other people around me with those same goals is always exciting,” says Diana Mitrea, an ACE-certified personal trainer in New York City. “We’re all talking about the right things and pushing each other and we celebrate their victories as well as mine.”

From personal training to yoga classes to CrossFit studios, there is a fitness tribe for everyone. Surround yourself with people that are dedicated to building your confidence as well as your strength.

4. Give Yourself a Real Reward

Unfortunately, not everyone can be motivated by intrinsic goals such as “reaching my target weight” or “living a healthier life.” If you’re someone who needs a little more to be motivated, Charles Duhugg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business suggests making the benefits of working out more tangible with a “real” reward such as watching an episode of your favorite show, treating yourself to a smoothie, or buying yourself a new workout outfit.

“An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile.”

This creates a neurological “habit loop,” which involves a cue to trigger the behavior (ie. packing your gym bag with workout clothes and setting it by the door), the routine (the actual workout or fitness class) and then the reward. “An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile,” he explains. “It increases the odds the routine becomes a habit.”

Eventually, the motivation becomes intrinsic, as the brain starts to associate the pain of working out with the surge of endorphins you get after a great session. Then, once your brain has been trained to recognize the workout itself as the reward, you won’t even need the treat to motivate you!

5.Schedule Your Workouts in Advance

We often think of workouts as something we occasionally add into our already busy schedules instead of an event set in stone. Schedule in advance the days and times you plan to workout and put them in your calendar. This will make going to the gym seem more like an appointment you’ve committed to, which makes it harder to make excuses for flaking.

Hiring a personal trainer or going to boutique studio is also a great way to commit to your workouts. With membership at a general gym, you still pay the same price regardless of how many times you go or don’t go.

However, with a personal trainer, you often pay per session or for a set number of times a week or month. You also have to schedule your sessions in advance. Since there is someone counting on you to show up, it’s not as easy to cancel as it to decide to skip the gym.

Most boutique studios also require you to book classes in advance, and often charge per class. If you are a no-show without canceling before the allowed time period, you’re still charged for the class, which is a great incentive to show up!

6. Have a Killer Playlist of Your Favorite Motivating Songs

The right music has an uncanny way of setting your mood. Put together a list of all the upbeat songs that motivate you to move! Hit play anytime you’re feeling too tired to wake up or change into your workout gear. You’ll perk up and find yourself feeling more charged and ready to work out.

You can continue to keep yourself motivated by playing your list of favorite songs while you’re actually working out. At our Just You Fitness studios, you can play your own song list during your personal training sessions!