Keep on track with our expert-approved tips to help you stop thinking about working out – and start actually doing it
Did you know that the most common New Year’s resolution* is to exercise more? However, we know how hard it can be to stay motivated, particularly when it’s dark by 4pm and it’s freezing cold outside – and the fact that 63 percent of us admit to breaking our resolutions within just one month proves that we’re quickly falling off the fitness wagon. But we don’t think it has to be the case this year. We’ve rounded up 15 of the best ways to help encourage you to stick to your fitness routine in 2020 so you can achieve your goals. You can do it!
1. Reward yourself
“To stay on track, schedule in rewards throughout the week,” says Haydn Elliot, co-owner and head trainer of F45 Oxford Circus (f45training.co.uk/oxfordcircus). “This is so important – whether it’s food, a hobby or a day off, you must give yourself some leeway. When training becomes a burden, you start to resent it and motivation will naturally fall off.”
2. Set goals that you can measure
“Progress is motivating, so setting a goal and keeping a record of where you started and how far you’ve come is a good way to keep your eye on the prize,” explains Abbie Watkins, a personal trainer at OriGym Centre of Excellence (origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk). “Whether it be recording how long it takes you to run 5k or keeping a weekly account of your weight, seeing how you’ve benefited from exercise will motivate you to stick it out. You look at yourself in the mirror every day so it’s hard to see any significant changes, but before and after images often show a different story.”
3. Ask yourself why you want to do this
“The ‘why’ is pivotal to any journey and stands for a lot more than you might first think,” says Steve Ahern, personal trainer at Musclefood (musclefood.com). “It’s more than just wanting to lose weight or gain muscle; it’s asking why you want to do that. What happened in your past to put you in the position to really want to kick-start this journey in the first place?”
4. Find ways to keep yourself accountable
“Accountability is one of the key ingredients to success,” says Elliott Upton, personal trainer and head of LiveUP Online Coaching at Ultimate Performance Fitness (upfitness.co.uk). “This accountability is invaluable for staying on track, not missing sessions and achieving your goals, especially when motivation starts to wane. If you don’t have a PT, you can recreate this by getting a training partner with similar goals to you so you both keep each other on track. Commit to sending each other a short message at the end of each day with your daily step count and your training summary.”
5. Tell a close friend
“This is a very simple, yet effective, way of staying motivated,” Steve advises. “Your friends and family will congratulate and praise you, as well as give you a kick up the bottom if you need it!”
6. Choose something you love
“When it comes to exercising, which of course is something that isn’t mandatory, you need to love it if you’re going to stick with it and make it a habit,” says Ryan Pickard, co-founder of TwelveThree (12x3gym.co.uk). “You shouldn’t pick an exercise activity just because it’s convenient and everyone else is doing it. Instead, take the time to figure out what you actually enjoy, whether that’s swimming, boxing or running. Workouts that are boring will only impede your progress, and ultimately waste your time. If you work on making your fitness routine interesting and exciting, you’ll reach your goals so much faster and avoid the otherwise inevitable plateau.”
7. Unfollow unhelpful social media accounts
“There are so many pointless social feeds run by people whose lives look glamorous 24/7, but it’s all a farce and, in the end, all it will do is make you feel bad about your life,” says Steve. “If you follow someone who doesn’t motivate, educate, inspire, or just humour you, delete them.”
8. Remember the feeling of a good workout
“The motivation to exercise inevitably waxes and wanes for everyone,” says Elliott. “To stay consistent through the hard times as well as the easy times, always keep in mind the physical and mental rewards that working out brings. Remembering how good it feels to get your blood pumping is a great motivator.”
9. Don’t beat yourself up
“Low motivation can hit all of us, so if you do miss a workout or two, don’t think it’s the end of the world and that there’s no point in going again,” encourages Steve. “Just relax, accept it, and then get right back on it.”
10. Keep in mind everyone was a beginner once
“Don’t be afraid of training at the gym,” says personal trainer Stevie Christian (@steviec.pt). “It can look intimidating, but everyone is at different stages of their fitness journey and they all began at day zero, just like you.”
11. Work out with friends
A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that 95 percent of those who started a weightloss programme with friends completed it, compared to a 76 percent completion rate for those who started alone. Plus, research by the Society of Behavioral Medicine showed that exercising with a partner doubled the workout time of those who exercised by themselves!
12. Prepay for classes
“If you’ve already bought a gym membership, you’re more likely to want to go,” says personal trainer Aimee Victoria Long, founder of The Whole Project (thewholeproject.agency).
13. Download an app
“There are several fitness apps you can download that will help you achieve your fitness goals and keep you motivated,” says Ryan. “I recommend the Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club apps, as they are great for at-home workouts and tracking progress if you’re preparing for a race. From strength and endurance to mobility and yoga, there is something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just getting started.”
14. Set yourself a challenge
Doing this, either by yourself or in a team, is a great way to keep yourself motivated. “It gives you something to work on and makes you accountable,” Aimee tells us. “You have an end goal that you need to be ready for, be that a 5k, 10k, half marathon or even the full 26.2 miles.”
15. Schedule workouts
Struggling to stick to your routine? “Block out time in your diary and stick to it,” says Aimee. “Act as if it’s a meeting you’ve booked in, so you don’t have any excuses not to go to it.”
Don’t think that an app can help with motivation? Think again – these are our favourites that do just that
Simply choose a charity you’d like to raise money for (these range from WWF to Save the Children) and start logging your movement and for every mile you complete, you help earn money for your chosen charity. What better reason to exercise? Free on Android and iOS.
This app pays you to work out – yes, really. Sweatcoin converts your outdoor steps into its currency that you can then spend on goods, services and experiences, including Headspace and Skullcandy, as well as holiday vouchers and restaurant discounts. Free on Android and iOS.
While not strictly a workout app, we think that Audible is worthy of a mention. Download audiobooks that you’ll only listen to when you exercise – you’ll be more motivated to head to the gym to find out what happens next. £7.99 per month, audible.co.uk
“I really want to tell everybody that I’m not always motivated. I can’t tell you how many times I hit the snooze button on a Saturday morning, but I’ve realised that I’ve never regretted a workout and I know that I’m going to feel amazing afterwards. Exercising in the morning is much easier for me, so I can’t say to myself “it’s fine, I’ll work out later” because I just won’t and I know I’m lying to myself. If I don’t want to work out, I think to myself ‘I’m fitness lady, I’ve got to do this!’”