Tips & Tricks for Staying Motivated on your Exercise Plan

By Zachary Besler

It’s no secret that the past few months have made us re-organize our lives. One of those re-organizations may have been resuming old exercise plans at home! With things slowly re-opening, you may be tempted to give up on these exercise plans once more, but worry not! Here are some helpful tips and tricks (that are backed by science!), to help you stay committed and motivated to your exercise plan even when unexpected commitments start to pile up.

  1. It starts with the clothes.

This should be a free win for you right off the bat. Given how quickly athleisure has flown off shelves, there is a good chance you are reading this blog post while wearing clothes that could let you easily transition into a downwards dog. If so, great! One less thing to worry about.

If, however, your profession requires that you wear professional or otherwise non-athletic clothing, the first step once you have time is to change into some fitness gear. This can help “flip a switch” in your brain that begins the process of preparing for exercise – and takes away one more excuse that stands in the way of your plan.

  1. “Just the warm-up”, they said. “It will be fine”, they said. (Spoiler alert: it was.)

I don’t like lying to people. Particularly people that I have never met. And so to you, dear reader, I must confess: I don’t actually feel like training every single scheduled session – and I’m a strength coach! Everyone has those days where you would much rather just… not.

What I like to do in these situations is tell myself that I will only do the warm-up. That’s it. Remove the expectation of having to complete a full training session in addition. Then, during the warm-up, I’ll listen to my body – what’s sore? What’s tight? Usually, the hips, shoulders, and back. But sure enough, once the blood starts pumping, and the tightness goes away, the next thing I know, I’m halfway through the second block of my workout. This happens about 92% of the time. And the remaining 8% of times where things just aren’t working? Take some extra time on self-massage, relaxing stretching, or even some DNS breathing.

  1. Choose Your Own Adventure

When it comes to your exercise program, it can be good to take a step back and evaluate your feelings and reasons for following the program. Is it a program that you enjoy? Or are you basing your program on what others are doing? I think Marie Kondo’s approach to organization applies to exercise as well – if burpees do not bring you joy, they have never brought you joy, and they are never going to bring you joy, let them go.

That being said, you can add elements of choice even if you are following a standardized program. What clothes do you want to wear? What water bottle do you want? Is there an order of exercises that you would prefer? Is there a fun warm-up activity that you like? Be sure to include these, and if you are working with a strength and conditioning coach or personal trainer, make sure that you express these preferences! Sometimes, a specific exercise that you want to do can be accomplished by a couple of other exercises that might already be in your program. At the end of the day, your coach or trainer can combine the best group of exercises to help your body – but the best programs are when you feel that you have a say, and the program reflects you.

  1. Take the Easy Wins

When starting out on, or beginning to maintain, a well-being lifestyle, it is important to accumulate some easy wins to build yourself up. At transition periods, such as the current re-openings, re-introducing “wins” to make sure you stay connected to exercise is very important. Set some easier exercise goals – such as taking a 10-minute movement break – and celebrate your successes as you continue to stay active.

One of the most significant challenges with exercising remotely is a worry of doing exercises correctly. This can be particularly challenging if you are following work-outs from online sources where you do not receive any feedback from an instructor. Thankfully, there are some fundamental exercise break-downs that you can find here!

  1. Find a Friend

With the current times, there are so many opportunities to connect with others. (Probably not where you thought that sentence was going, eh?). There are many ways to exercise together, even when apart. Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype are always options. A simple phone call goes a long way too – connect with friends and family and train? Two-for-one mental health boost!

Accountability is key here. Try using an emoji-only fitness check-in group chat. Send a thumbs-up to the group when you completed activity that day, or two thumbs-up if you didn’t today, but you will tomorrow. You get instant feedback on how much work you’ve already done just by scrolling through the group chat. As the chat grows, so too will your confidence in your ability to stick to your program.