In our latest fitness tips, Kate Cracknell shares five top tips that will help you stay motivated.
You’ve told yourself you’ll go to the gym this evening, but then one of your friends suggests catching up for a glass of wine or going out for dinner. Either that or you’ve simply had a long day at work – you’re tired and all you want to do is collapse on the sofa. Somehow the determination you felt this morning disappears and your gym visit is bumped to ‘tomorrow’.
This is a scenario most of us battle with: finding the motivation to go the gym when there are so many other things we’d much rather do!
The good news is there are things you can do to help you keep your motivation levels high. Here are our five top tips:
- Find your ‘why’
“Motivation is fuel,” says Philippe Godin, professor of psychology of physical activity and sport at UCL in Brussels. “It’s motivation that makes you train long and hard towards your goals. That makes you resistant to pain. That encourages you to make sacrifices to move towards becoming the athlete you know you can be.”
But without a goal to work towards – whether your inner athlete is a 20k runner or simply someone who wants to shape up and lose weight – it’s hard to stay motivated. The ‘why’ of exercise is key.
- Monitor your progress
Dr Paul McCarthy, a sports psychologist who is resident at Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK, explains: “Most people come to the gym with a goal, but don’t know how to achieve it. They come with the intention and motivation but need the strategy, and then feedback, to succeed in their goals – otherwise the intention and motivation wears off.”
The strategy can come from Aspria’s wellbeing advisors and personal trainers, but what are the options in terms of objective feedback?
In fact there are many, not least AspriaPro – Aspria’s very own in-depth health and wellbeing assessment, which covers everything from blood pressure to cardiovascular fitness – where follow-up appointments track your progress compared to previous readings.
But if you’re a member of a club that doesn’t yet have AspriaPro, fear not: there are plenty of other ways to keep track of progress.
If weight loss is your key objective, you might like to invest in smart scales which can tell you your balance of fat versus muscle – you may not have lost weight, but if your muscle mass goes up and your fat mass drops, you’ll look better and will burn more calories even at rest.
If improvements in fitness or run times are your goal, there are now hundreds of apps and wearables out there that can complement the input from your personal trainer or wellbeing advisor: apps that show graphs of your steps walked, calories burned, time taken to run set distances and so on. You name it, there’s likely to be an app out there that will show you the exact data you want to track.
You can also go low-tech, as Lionel Gonnet – personal trainer for Aspria in Brussels – explains: “Standing on normal scales to weigh yourself makes no sense, because this doesn’t measure fat mass and can be very demotivating.
“If my clients don’t have access to body scanning and intelligent blood tests, I encourage them to learn to recognize results for themselves: simply standing in front of a mirror, for example, or feeling the change in the fit of their clothes.”
- Find things you love doing
If you’re easily talked out of going to the gym, it could quite simply be that you aren’t a gym bunny. That’s fine. Exercising doesn’t have to mean going to the gym – it’s just about moving and getting your heart rate up, in whatever way you like.
The important thing is to find something you genuinely love doing, so your workout isn’t a chore but rather something you actively look forward to and prioritize.
As Gonnet explains: “There are two forms of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. The former is when you’re motivated by the activity itself – by the enjoyment you derive from that activity. The latter involves being motivated by consequences of the activity: either getting positive results or avoiding negative consequences.
“In fitness, you need both: you need to see results to stay motivated, but you also have to enjoy what you do. Without this, motivation will not last.”
So, what activity will bring you intrinsic motivation? Do you enjoy going for a walk or a bike ride? Maybe swimming is for you, or tennis, or volleyball. Or perhaps there’s a class that will capture your imagination, from aerial yoga to dance to boxing.
We suggest you keep trying everything until you find the activity that puts a biggest smile on your face!
- Find a workout buddy
There’s nothing like feeling responsibility to another person to help you stick to your exercise promises: if you agree to train with a friend and then drop out, you’re letting not only yourself down, but them too. This can be a serious boost to motivation, not only in the short term but also longer term, as data from the UK shows: in a study by The Retention People, members who made a friend at the gym – someone to work out with – were 40% less likely to lose motivation and cancel their membership than those who didn’t have a workout buddy.
- Keep things fresh
If you start feeling bored in your exercise routine, your motivation is likely to drop. Variety is key and you shouldn’t let yourself get stale. We recommend you refresh your workout programme regularly, so you keep progressing rather than plateauing, and so you keep having fun – both of which are vital to remaining motivated.