Many people know ramping up their exercise is crucial for a wide range of health benefits, but knowledge doesn’t always translate into action. Even with specific goals and plenty of enthusiasm, training can get derailed by busy schedules, other priorities and, let’s face it, the lure of the couch.
Being able to drum up some motivation is a useful skill, and when you can’t do it on your own, your trainer might have some ideas.
Here’s how some fitness experts manage to motivate their clients — and even themselves:
One of the biggest mental hurdles to working out is feeling like you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, says certified personal trainer Jimmy Minardi, founder of Minardi Training. To combat that perception, he has clients break their exercise into 10-minute segments throughout the day.
For example, climbing stairs for 10 minutes during lunch counts and so does parking as far from the office as possible — or getting off the bus one stop earlier. “By the end of the day, my clients have done a full workout without even realizing it,” he says.
Whenever he starts working with new clients, health and wellness expert Chris Divecchio asks them for photos of when they were at their all-time best physical condition.
“Interestingly, when we dig a little deeper into the reasons they chose that photo, it turns out they were also at their happiest,” he says. “The conversations start to reveal patterns and habits they engaged regularly during that time that were directly related to the results they were getting. This sets that stage for a strong motivational foundation.”
Music can be a huge motivator — as long as you like the music. Those who do group training with certified personal trainer Justine Mansfield at Anytime Fitness in Red Rock, Nevada, can count on hearing their favorites, because they’re the ones who pick the tunes.
“I like to reach out and collect a mix of my clients’ favorite workout songs and make a playlist for a session,” she says. “It makes them feel part of creating the session.”
Another Anytime Fitness trainer, Stacy Weaver Maturin in Lafayette, Louisiana, has her clients do training sessions while “live” on social media. Even if only a few people are watching, the pressure drives them to push a little harder, she says. They always get more motivated when they’re ‘on,’ much like people tend to challenge themselves more in a group than when they’re working out alone.
Which would you rather lift: yet another kettlebell or a fat little pumpkin that’s the same weight? Minnesota-based corporate fitness coach Rachel Prairie adds the seasonal squash into her workouts, mostly because they help people to laugh and joke about the workout — while still putting in plenty of effort.
“Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated,” she says. “So, keeping it a little silly once in a while helps people connect to one another and have fun.”
Some Orangetheory Fitness studios offer “no shower happy hours” or other community-based events that follow the last classes on Friday evenings, encouraging people to show up even if they’re still sweaty, says Michael Piermarini, Orangetheory’s director of fitness.
Another popular tactic at Orangetheory is the “primal scream,” says Piermarini. If you’re doing this on your own, some warning to your neighbors or fellow gym goers might be nice, but in general, it’s worth the effort, he believes.
“We’ll say, ‘Let’s do a primal scream in 3, 2, 1,’ and then everyone yells,” he says. “It’s actually really awesome and can bring up the energy like nothing else, even music.”
Results are good motivators, but sometimes it can be stressful to always focus on performance and metrics. One way to shake that off for a bit is to get more playful, advises Baltimore-based certified personal trainer Chris Clough. In client workouts, he includes a “play segment” that might include crawling on the floor, jumping rope, balancing in a weird pose or anything else that gets a laugh.
Even though strategies like these are geared toward personal training clients, you can pick up some ideas for meeting your squad goals — use some of these tactics when you put together a group of fitness-focused friends, and watch your motivation zoom upward.
Whether in a group or solo, the main theme to increasing motivation is to find a sense of fun and enjoyment in what you’re doing. Consistency and discipline are important, but without some lightness in there, and even a bit of playtime, it can be tough to fuel motivation for the long term.