If you’re dragging your butt to the gym with a classic case of the I-don't-wannas every time you work out, you're probably not being consistent with your exercise routine. Why? You dread it. You’re counting down the minutes until you can pack up and leave. You might even think that you hate working out.
You're not alone. Many exercisers, especially new ones, can relate. But I refuse to accept that you hate working out. The truth is that you just haven't found a way to make it fun. Exercise shouldn’t be a hassle or a punishment. It should be a release. Your workouts should be the best part of your day.
Try any of the 9 tips below tips to add joy to your sweat sessions and release those endorphins.
1. Take dance breaks.
When I teach my classes, I tell people that when they want to break, it has to be a dance break. People think that needing a rest means they're weak or failing at the workout — but that's not true! Listen to your body and use your rests as a time to pump yourself up. Get lost in your music and dance around a little while your heart rate calms down. When you're ready, hop right back into your workout!
2. Race yourself.
The next time you do a rep or distance-based workout, time yourself. When you go back to do it again, try to beat your last time by at least a few seconds. Make it a game so that every time you do that workout, you're competing against yourself!
3. Pump up the jams.
Without music, I'd hate my workout, too. Invest in an armband for your phone and a pair of earbuds that won't fall out during your workouts. This small purchase will enrich your workout regimen a million-fold. Take some time to make a playlist that makes you feel positive and energetic, with a quick beat.
4. Try a different kind of burpee each workout.
I love high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. To keep HIIT workouts fun, I always shake up the moves. An easy way to do this is to try a new kind of burpee every time you work out. Let’s be real — burpees are not fun! It doesn't have to be perfect.
5. Shift your focus.
Instead of repeating "I hate working out" over and over in your head, embrace the fact that you're at the gym, on the track, in your living room, changing your mind and body. You choose this. Talk yourself into your workout, not out of it. You could have plopped down on the couch and said fuggedaboutit, but you didn't. Recognize and honor that with a mantra that empowers you, like "I choose change," or "It's only hard until it's not."
6. Plan it out.
Nothing kills a pumped-up vibe like getting to the gym and having no idea what you're going to do that day. Instead, choose a workout before you go, and make sure it's easily accessible by either printing it out or saving it as a picture or note on your phone.
7. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Did you grow up doing ballet? I dare you to try CrossFit. Are you a beast of a guy who usually sticks to split days? I challenge you to a hip-hop class. Trying new things keeps us on our toes and breaks down the limits we set for ourselves. While most of us don't like being the worst person in class, it can be humbling. Go on Groupon or sign up for ClassPass and do some experimenting.
8. Find your why.
I work out because it keeps the depression and anxiety at bay ... and it makes me feel strong and alive. Reminding myself of this when all I want to do is watch TV serves as a swift kick in the booty. Whenever you feel like skipping your yoga class, remind yourself of your "why" with a short mantra that roots you back into a motivated state. For instance, I use the mantra, "Yes, I can," to remind myself that I am stronger than my doubt and resistance.
9. Don't overdo it.
There's a fine line between letting out stress through your workout and creating more of it. Over-training can drain you physically and emotionally. Make sure you're getting at least one full day off from working out every week. Start with a sustainable workout schedule that leaves you looking forward to your next workout when you finish!
Whatever you do, don't let the resistance in your mind convince you that you hate working out. You're in this for life! Moving your body is the only way to get it fit and healthy — and there are TONS of ways to make it fun. Inject some joy into your exercise experience, and celebrate what your body can do!
Photo courtesy of the author
Amy Clover is the force behind Strong Inside Out, a site that inspires you to become stronger than your struggle through fitness and positive action. After struggling with depression and suicide, Amy turned it all around with the help of consistent movement and adopting a proactive mindset. She created the Strong Inside Out Bootcamp workout program to help the depressed, stressed and anxious to get — and keep — moving in a struggle-specific, supportive, anti-shame environment. To learn more about Strong Inside Out and get a FREE 10-minute workout to lift your spirit (and your butt), click here!