You go to bed with the best intentions of waking early, slipping into your new gym fit, and getting in a quality workout. But when that old alarm buzzes at dawn, the comfort of your bed might find itself at war with your regular exercise plan.
Whether it’s an early morning boot camp or a post-work sweat session, finding motivation to pack your gym bag and get your workout done can be tough. (Trust us, we’ve all been there.)
Instead of throwing your alarm across the room or squashing your workout goals entirely, perhaps it’s just a matter of reshaping your strategy. But don’t worry—we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. Follow along and start prepping your pre-workout shake because you’ll be ready to hit the ground running by the time you finish.
8 Tips for Getting (and Staying) Motivated
Don’t just get hyped about exercise—stay hyped. These eight tips will show you how to find motivation to workout and keep it handy at all times, especially if you are wanting to learn how to stay fit while traveling.
Let’s start by understanding your workout motivation style.
#1 Know What Lights Your Fire
Just like we all have different learning styles, what flips our personal switches into beast mode is different for each one of us, too.
Without going too far down the rabbit-hole of behavioral science, motivation can be classified into two separate types:
- Extrinsic – These are the reasons we act that arise from outside of ourselves. They often involve rewards such as money, social status, recognition, praise, and rewards.
- Intrinsic – This is the other type of motivation. It arises from within ourselves and can also be called “personal gratification.”
What tends to give you that extra nudge you need to lace up your running shoes? That runner’s high you get after a track workout? Or the way your trainer bursts out in a celebratory dance party when you hit a new personal best?
Getting and staying motivated to workout means getting in tune with what, exactly, lights your fire and reminding yourself of it whenever you’re having an off day.
#2 Keep the Why In Mind
Thinking big picture can do wonders for workout motivation. So take a moment to remind yourself why workouts should be a part of your life. Need some hints? We’ve got you covered.
According to federal guidelines, you should strive to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and at least two days of muscle-strength activity every week. Research unanimously shows that this amount of regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy in the long term.
What kind of healthy benefits are we talking about, exactly? Consider the following.
Cardiovascular Benefits of Exercise
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, also called cardiovascular exercise, is pretty much anything that gets your heart beating faster than normal such as walking, jogging, tennis, biking, yoga, or dancing.
150 minutes per week might sound like a lot but we suggest breaking it down into smaller, more manageable sessions. A more approachable equivalent? Five thirty-minute sessions, for example. Plus, it doesn’t even need to be 30 continuous minutes. A couple of 10-15 minute walks per day can count toward your weekly goal, too.
Meeting the weekly goal confers a variety of benefits including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Weight gain control
- Toned muscles
- Improved insulin response in the body
Muscle-Strength Benefits of Exercise
The reason behind those twice-a-week strength-training sessions?
- Increased flexibility and mobility
- Muscle retention and growth
- Improved performance
- Decreased risk of injury
These perks don’t have to feel too far out of reach either. In less than 10 minutes—and without any fancy gym equipment—you can engage your muscles through exercises like squats, push-ups, and mountain climbers.
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Whether you’re focusing on cardio, muscle-building, or both, working out is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. Experts agree that regular physical activity can improve your mental health in numerous ways by:
- Easing short term and long term stress and anxiety
- Reducing risk of depression
- Helping achieve and maintain healthy sleep patterns
- Improving self-esteem
- Increasing cognitive function
- Alleviating social anxiety
#3 Set SMART goals
Knowing where you want to go is the first step in getting there, right? Have a goal-setting session for your developing fitness routine so that you can lay out a clear pathway to success. While doing so, make sure your workout goals are SMART. No, not the clever and quick-witted sort, necessarily, but ones that are:
A SMART goal might be something like:
- Losing ten pounds over the next six months
- Being able to run a 10K race in 30 minutes or less by next summer
You’ll want to start by thinking about where you are, where you want to be, and how long it might realistically take to get there. Once you’ve gone through this process, write down your objectives, including as many specifics as you can.
Seeing them on paper can sometimes help to make them feel more real. Put your list somewhere where you can be reminded of it frequently, and check back in to monitor your progress when you can.
#4 Schedule a Regular Workout Time
One of the most powerful ways you can stay motivated to exercise all year is by creating a manageable, enjoyable schedule that you look forward to. Consider the following to help you settle on a block of time when you can consistently and happily free yourself for a workout:
- Are you a morning lark or a night owl?
- What are your work schedule and after-hours obligations like?
- How much time do you have on workdays versus on weekends?
- How much time will commuting to your exercise take?
- How much time will the exercise itself take? Will it be the same or different each day?
Once you’ve decided on the days and times when exercise can fit into your life, make an appointment with it. Put it in your calendar and do your best to respect the time you’ve set aside for yourself. The more you stick to your schedule, the more you may find you actually look forward to the structure and shape it provides to your day.
#5 Keep Things Fresh with Plenty of Variety
You wouldn’t eat chicken soup at every single meal all year long, right? Chances are, you’d get bored and maybe even disgusted by it pretty quickly. So why should you expect yourself to do the same workout day after day after day? Adding some flavor and spice to your exercise calendar will keep you from simply going through the motions. Whether you set aside a day to train with a friend or try out a new, weekday class at the gym, be sure to plan a diverse workout routine to keep it fresh and fun for you.
#6 Designate an Accountability Partner
Not only does working out with a partner give you someone to commiserate with when your thighs are beyond sore, but your gym bestie is the perfect person to drag you (lovingly) out of bed by your ankles when it’s cold and wet outside, too. Having a workout buddy could be just what you need to help you:
- Feel motivated – Encouragement and friendly competition go a long way when it comes to getting you out the door for regular exercise.
- Take healthy risks – Trying new things, whether they’re classes, machines, or backcountry hiking trails, is a lot easier with someone by your side.
- Be consistent – Just knowing someone is waiting for you in the pre-dawn park for a run is likely enough to get you up and out the door, and, therefore, on track with your calendar.
Who to choose as a workout partner really depends on your own relationships and needs.
Consider the following for potential buddies:
- Family member
- Work colleague
- Professional trainer
- Your pet (really!)
Whoever you decide to enlist as your partner, make sure it’s someone who keeps you feeling empowered and motivated.
#7 Treat Yourself
Reward yourself when you reach your goals. Reward yourself when you need a boost. Sometimes, maybe just reward yourself for getting out of bed on a cold day. (Hey, little victories are just as important to celebrate as big ones, right?)
You can also reward yourself before an activity. Yes, this may seem counterintuitive, but anecdotal evidence has shown that spending money on your fitness gear actually helps keep you motivated.
Some treats to get you moving and keep you going might be:
- Gym membership
- Wearable fitness tracker
- High-end water bottle
- New duffle bags or gym bag essentials
- Home gym equipment
- Exercise shoes and clothing
Those are at least six ways to motivate yourself to workout. Plus, there’s our Sports Tote, too. It’s got plenty of space for all of your workout necessities. Plus, it’s way too cute not to show off on gym day.
#8 Change Up Your Perspective
Sometimes the only thing holding you back is yourself. Take a good, hard look at your expectations to see if you aren’t sabotaging your own fitness. Maybe your body image isn’t healthy, or your goals are set too high and hard. Remember to treat yourself with kindness and generosity as you get into a new fitness program.
You won’t always hit your goals. You won’t always get out of bed for the 5am run. You might skip a day—or three. Don’t sweat it. Instead, give yourself permission to fail and try again.
Get BÉIS and Get Moving!
Whether you’re feeling sluggish in the morning or dragging after dinner, make sure you’ve got a plan in place to help you find your flow. Set attainable goals, diversify your workouts, and hold yourself accountable alongside your favorite, cardio-loving comrade.
Whenever you’re looking for some workout gear that can keep up with you and your go-getting self, check out the BÉIS Moves Collection to shop the best gym bags. Take to the trails with the Sport Pack or the cross-body Water Bottle Sling. Try out different types of workout classes in style with the Sport Duffle slung over your shoulder. Whatever workout you choose, this collection is teeming with one-of-a-kind pieces to keep you motivated while looking and feeling your best.
- Harvard Health. “Updated Exercise Guidelines Showcase the Benefits to Your Heart and Beyond.” Harvard Health, 2021, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/updated-exercise-guidelines-showcase-the-benefits-to-your-heart-and-beyond
- “How Money Spent on Gym Memberships Affects Motivation.” ExerciseBike, 14 Dec. 2021, www.exercisebike.net/financing-fitness
- “The 9-Minute Strength Workout.” Well Guides - The New York Times, 2021, www.nytimes.com/guides/well/strength-training-plyometrics
- “The Psychology of What Motivates Us.” Verywell Mind, 27 Apr. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/what-is-motivation-2795378
- Warburton, D. E. R. “Health Benefits of Physical Activity: The Evidence.” Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol. 174, no. 6, 2006, pp. 801–09. Crossref, doi:10.1503/cmaj.051351.