6 Ways to Stay Motivated To Exercise

Working in a commercial gym setting, I see many crazy things.  Some things that just shouldn’t be seen.  Things like:

  • bright pink neon spandex (and not the cute kind they sell at Lululemon, like the shiny kind)
  • Pantyhose being worn as workout leggings (this actually happens more often than you think.)
  • Gym members pole dancing off a TRX S-frame (or so I’ve heard.)

Of all the fashion and behavioral odditites I’ve witnessed in my career as a personal trainer, nothing is as prevalent as seeing fickle gym-members come and go.

What usually starts off with a few consistent weeks of hitting every class imaginable, soon fizzles into random and sporadic visits a few times a month.

This initial surge to workout goes to show that it can be easy to start exercising, but even harder to maintain.

So, what are we to do?

Seeing how my living is based on getting people to come to the gym for their sessions, I’ve come up with few tricks that have helped keep a roof over my head.

The first step to staying motivated starts before you even start. (huh?)

In order to stay motivated in the long-run, you must first develop a healthy, loving and respectful self-image.

From my experience, the clients I’ve worked with that have maintained long term success with exercise all share this quality.

Now, I’m not going to get all Jack Handy on you, but in my opinion this is the first place to start.

So stop the tape, and do this step first.

jack handy


Gotta a better appreciation of yourself?


Now it’s time to keep the ball rolling.

Here are 6 tips to help you stay motivated to exercise:
1. Get a workout buddy.

In my experience, clients who have the social support have faired better than those going at it alone. And research has now shown that even a virtual workout buddy may even be more effective. Researchers at Michigan State University revealed that working out with a virtual partner improved motivation and increased performance. (Even after reading the article 3 times, I was still not able to understand what a “virtual partner” is, but the take home message from this study is pretty clear.)

2. Hire a qualified fitness professional.

I’m a little biased on this one obviously, but hiring a qualified professional is one of the best ways to stay motivated. Heck, even I have my own personal trainer. And I can tell you that it makes a HUGE difference. Not only are you spending your hard earned money on it, but you’re now accountable to someone else who wants you do well. And really, no one ones to be a disappointment, it’s human nature.

3. Join a workout group.

To me one of the most fascinating places to watch social dynamics (aside from bars, of course) is the gym. I’ve inadvertently learned what I’d consider a Master’s Degree equivalent in sociology from spending my life in one. And from my own observations, the clients who participate in group workouts, whether it is boot camps, small group training, or group fitness classes do FAAAAAAAAAAAARRRR better than those who do not. If groups intimidate, don’t fear. Even working in smaller groups like 3 or 4 can drastically increase your motivation.

4. Set up 2 or 3 short-term and reachable goals each month.

Think big but start small. For example, set a specific number for the amount of workouts you want to do per week, and then set a final number for the month. For instance, if your goal is to make 3 workouts each week, then you can set 12 workouts for the month as your goal. I find that setting smaller goals more frequently, I’ve been able to accomplish more. If you’re goal is to start waking up earlier, set a specific number. “I will wake up before 7 am 20 out of the 30 days of the month.” This way you can actually keep a tally like on a whiteboard in your office or in your room.

5. Surround yourself with positive influences and imagery.

Want to workout more? Hang out with people who workout. Habits rub off easily so take a look at your social circle and ask yourself if their habits are ones you want to adopt. I’m also a huge fan of creating vision boards. Use striking images that inspire you, even if that means looking through a few fitness magazines to get you pumped. I mean if Oprah thinks vision boards are cool, then they must be.

6. Involve your friends and family members.

Not only does involving your family mean more support (usually) but it also means more accountability. Involving the people you are closest to in your fitness endeavors makes it a hell of a lot easier to get through those times you’re feeling frustrated  and need the extra encouragement.

The bottom line:

Whether its in a group or with a virtual workout partner, having the accountability to other people than yourself is a highly effective way to keep you motivated. Make smaller, reachable goals and hire a qualified personal trainer. Just don’t show up in pantyhose to boot camp.

Thanks for reading, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, my goal is to make this site highly interactive so that we can help each other live fitter and healthier lives.

In the comment section below, tell us, are there any tricks that help you stay motivated?


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