4 Workout-Motivation Tricks to Guarantee You Get to the Gym This Week



It’s that time of year again. The hopefulness and exuberance of the New Year has given way to the cold reality: Getting in shape is HARD. You have to be conscientious with your diet and dedicated to hitting the gym regularly.

Studies show that right now is when most of the people who resolved to get in shape this year will quit. They will taper off until March, when only a tiny percentage of them will have achieved their fitness goal.

Enough bleak statistics. Here are four strategies to become part of the elite: the people who stick with it.

1. Always have a back-up plan so skipping the gym is never an option.

Many people hitting the gym regularly for the first time don’t realize how tricky it can be to stay in the habit when life gets in the way. Work projects, family commitments, social lives—all these things derail can your commitment.

One trick that works for me is to have a back-up plan, always. My back-up plan is a shorter or easier workout that I can do in place of my scheduled one if I’m feeling tired or unmotivated. This makes it much harder to skip the gym entirely, because I can always say to myself, “Look, just go the gym and do your back-up workout. You’ll be in and out in no time.”

Funny thing is, most of the time, by the time I’m warmed up and ready to lift, I feel great and end up doing my originally scheduled workout.

Think about it this way: No matter how tired you are, or how much your work week beat you down, do you ever just flat-out skip bathing? (Editor’s note: Well, maybe sometimes.) Or feeding your kids? No, because those activities are non-negotiable. And while your workouts aren’t quite as important as your personal hygiene and parenting, you need to start thinking of your gym time and healthy eating in the same way: non-negotiable.

2. Buddy up.

People are much more likely to stick to commitments when there’s social pressure. Consider joining a small boutique gym, where the tight-knit community aspect builds accountability.

Besides, it’s way more fun to work out with friendly competitors than to plod along on a treadmill next to a stranger. One of the fun things about my small strength classes at RISE is that when a regular member misses a class or two, everyone asks when he or she returns, “Hey, where have you been?” That’s accountability you just don’t get at a giant big-box gym.

If you do train at your local commercial gym, try to get a friend to commit to go with you the same days and times every week. If skipping means letting down your buddy, you won’t do it.

3. Piggyback on existing habits.

Research shows that the best way to establish a new habit is to attach it to an existing habit or commitment. What do you do on a weekly basis that you can connect to your fitness?

What are your favorite TV shows? DVR them, hit the gym while they’re on, then watch them (without commercials) when you get home.

Do you go out for drinks with your work friends? Meet up with them an hour later and work out first.

Do you have to drop your kids off at sports practice or other activities and wait for them? Get in a quick run.

No opportunity is too small to squeeze in some fitness. Any effort is better than none.

4. Invest in making it easier on yourself.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot trying to save a buck. Don’t join a $10-per-month gym 30 minutes away if there’s a $50-per-month gym right next to your office. Fifty bucks well spent is better than $10 wasted.

Hire a trainer to show you the basics and write you a program you can follow on your own so you know your efforts are well spent. You are much less likely to skip a workout that was planned for you weeks advance than one where you are just winging it.

Buy a kettlebell or two and invest in learning movements like the swing, squat, press and get-up. There are tons of free kettlebell workouts online; make the commitment to train for 20 minutes, first thing after you get home from work, every weekday.

At first it will be tough. But little by little it will become totally automatic, and your friends will start to ask you how you find the time to look so good.


Marshall Roy is the owner of RISE gym in King of Prussia, a kettlebell and barbell studio offering personal training and group strength & conditioning classes. He was named “Best Trainer” Philadelphia magazine in the 2014 “Best of Philly” issue.  Learn more at RISEgym.com.

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