Your Ultimate Guide to Fitness Motivation

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Fitness motivation: Woman taking a break post-workout
Fitness motivation: Woman taking a break post-workout

It happens to all of us. We jump into the gym on January 1, confident that this is the year that we’re finally going to get in shape. Fast-forward to March, and our running shorts and fitness shoes are tucked in the back of the closet.

This happens when we don’t thoughtfully consider our long-term fitness motivation. When it comes down to it, you need an entire system of motivation and discipline to reach your health and fitness goals. But as you may have experienced, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

If you’ve been looking for tips to help you stay on track and in shape for years to come, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a complete guide to building sustained fitness motivation.

Workout Motivation Tips to Try

Man lacking fitness motivation on the treadmill
Man lacking fitness motivation on the treadmill

There’s no easy shortcut to fitness motivation (although certain tips can give you a boost when you’re in a slump) — but there is a process you can follow to stay on track. 

This process looks a little like:

  • Viewing your routine as a healthy lifestyle (and not a get-fit-quick-scheme)

  • Writing down your goals

  • Starting with small steps and building on them

  • Focusing on habits you like

  • Leveraging tools or a trainer to keep you on track

Let’s take a deep dive into each of these tips so you can build a strong foundation for workout motivation:

View Your Routine as a Healthy Lifestyle (and Not a Get-Fit-Quick Scheme)

If you view nutrition and exercise as a “something I do until I get my dream body” kind of thing, it may be time for a mindset shift. Fitness is more than a way to sculpt your physique

When your exercise goal is as simple as getting a beach body, your motivation to continue exercising goes away once you meet that goal (or the moment you hit a roadblock or something else pops up in your life). It can be hard to reach for those dumbbells again once you’ve reached your goal weight or sculpted your abs!

If you lose sight of the big picture, you risk losing your past gains and missing out on long-term health benefits.

Instead, focus on building long term, sustainable habits that spark joy and yield benefits day after day. 

Here are some of the most valuable benefits you might feel when you embrace regular exercise and healthy nutrition as long-term habits:

  • It boosts your mental health by giving you a flood of feel-good endorphins.

  • Exercise and improved nutrition drive an overall healthier life and a decreased risk of some major diseases, like strokes and heart disease.

  • Staying active helps you feel more confident. You gain a sense of accomplishment knowing you put in extra effort to reach your goals. 

Write Down Your Goals 

Writing down your goals forces you to get specific. You need to clarify what you want, how you’re going to get it, and when you plan on reaching each milestone. A goal-setting strategy is priceless whether you’re aiming for weight loss, increased energy, or overall wellness.

So, how can you set fitness goals that actually work

First, start with the long-term vision you have for your health. Do you want:

  • Better heart health?

  • Stronger muscles?

  • Better mental health?

 (If your goals include getting shredded or slimming down for a self-esteem boost, that’s alright too!

Just keep it sustainable, reasonable, and remember to think of things in terms of your overall health. 

In any case, be specific and genuine about what you really want, and write it down! Better yet, jot it down and tell a friend or coach for added accountability.

Then, structure the steps you’ll take to get there. For instance, shedding a few pounds might require a weightlifting and cardio routine, along with adjusting your daily nutrition. 

(Hack: Work with a coach or personal trainer to create a future-proof plan and bring these goals to life.)

Start With Small Steps and Build

Building new habits is tough, whether you’re trying to read more books, be more present, or get fit. 

Part of the challenge is that the human brain likes to stick to its old ways. (Curse you, biology!) But the good news is that your brain also has something called neuroplasticity, which means it can change – even if that change takes time. 

That’s why it’s best to start your workout routine with small steps — it makes adjusting to these changes more manageable. If you decide to run a 5k on your first day of working out though, you may find it overwhelming, get frustrated, and give up — even if you somehow manage to eke out the 3.1 miles. Better to build small wins day after day, and try to make them a tad bigger each day.

Consider which small changes could bring you closer to your end goals. If you already enjoy taking nature walks, try to eventually bump it up to a nature jog. 

For general fitness, you can begin with bodyweight workouts and/or light aerobic exercises for short, five-minute sessions. As you get more comfortable working out, you can increase the duration. 

Or, if you’re interested in bodybuilding, you can start with light weights instead of heading straight to the barbell. 

On the Days You Don’t Want to Get Moving, Push Yourself To Do Something (Even If It’s Tiny)

You might be surprised to find how helpful it is to just do some type of workout every day (even if it’s just a five-minute walk or a few crunches on your bedroom floor). 

These miniscule movements might not seem like they’re doing much in-the-moment, but they become foundational habits that you can build on over time. After all, the pyramid was built one brick at a time!

Focus On Habits You Like

There are tons of fitness activities to choose from. There’s no faster way for a fitness plan to get cut short than for it to become drudgery.

You don’t have to drag yourself through exercises you don’t like. Your first goal should be to get moving in a way that feels fun.

After all, this is a lifestyle change we’re talking about — and you’ll want your new habits to stick around. 

Not a big CrossFit fan? You don’t have to do it. Do certain forms of cardio (like running) fill you with dread? There are other options! Start with what you like.

Follow the activities you like, whether you gravitate towards bodybuilding, YouTube pilates, or anything in between. This allows you to get satisfaction from the workout itself, rather than focusing on an external reward. 

In other words, you’ll be sparking your intrinsic motivation, which is key for sticking to a workout routine long-term. 

Game-Changing Tools for Fitness Motivation

Woman giving motivational pep talk
Woman giving motivational pep talk

Beyond the mindset shifts you can make for exercise motivation, here are two powerful tools to help you stick to your fitness journey:

1. Activity Trackers 

As we mentioned above, writing down and tracking your progress is huge — no matter what you’re setting out to accomplish. And science agrees: Self-monitoring is an extraordinary way to succeed in your fitness routine.

Here are some useful ways to track an exercise regimen:

  • Jot down your workouts on a whiteboard calendar, and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Your bedroom wall, bathroom mirror, or fridge are all top-notch places to hang it up.

  • Use fitness or habit-building apps for a digital tracking experience. (These have the bonus of workout reminder notifications.) With Kickoff, your coach will text you a plan and offer support each day so you remember to work toward your fitness and nutrition goals.

  • Try a plain old pen-and-paper checklist or even the Notes app on your phone to keep an eye on your progress.

2. Accountability Partners 

Trying to crush your fitness goals by yourself can be tough. If you’ve been feeling discouraged or demotivated, it may be worth finding an accountability partner. 

When you need some extra help, an accountability partner can make all the difference in the world. Depending on who it is, they can coach you, provide feedback, or nudge you in the right direction when you’re feeling stuck.

This person can be a family member, friend, or romantic partner. But aside from your pals and loved ones, the best accountability partner is a personal trainer (PT).

When It Comes to Accountability, Here’s Why a Trainer Is Your Best Friend

A good personal trainer takes the time to learn about your relationship with health and well-being, so they can craft a program just for you — a fitness match made in heaven. To be specific, they will ask you questions to understand your:

  • Routine

  • Experiences

  • Nutrition

  • Injuries

  • Training preferences

They’re also well-versed in helping people just like you find motivation and stick to a healthy lifestyle, no matter your starting point. (Yes, even if you haven’t picked up a dumbbell in years.)

It might sound intimidating to work with a PT at first. But don’t stress. Trainers understand the challenges you’re facing and are equipped to help you succeed. 

For example, if you’ve lost your drive to stick to workout programs in the past, you can let your PT know. They’ll take extra care to check in with you, track your progress, and give you the push you need to go to the gym.

You can hire a trainer in person at your local gym or even through an online program like Kickoff. If you’re picking an in-person trainer, you’ll want to make sure you know how to pick the right one, since finding a good fit is key. (Kickoff, on the other hand, will pair you up with the best one based on your goals and circumstances.)

Bonus Tips to Make Exercise Feel Easier

Exercising in the backyard
Exercising in the backyard

Actionable tips and tools to make exercise a regular part of your routine are great. But if you’re like many people, you might need some extra tips to integrate it into your life.

So, how can you learn to love it? What can you do to make exercise feel easy and fun? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

  • Grab a workout buddy. Sweating, laughing, and getting your heart rate up with a friend can make a massive difference in the way you feel about your exercise routine.This doesn’t have to be your accountability partner — your workout buddy can be anyone who loves to get their sweat on. 

  • Jam out to a fun workout playlist or listen to a favorite podcast. Crafting the perfect upbeat playlist or listening to a cool new podcast can make a difficult workout as fun as your own personal dance party.

  • Count down your reps. A grueling set of lunges or squats can feel impossible when you’re counting from one to 10. To make things a little easier, try counting down your reps. Think of it this way: The more you do, the closer you are to zero.

  • Learn to love the burn. Starting an exercise routine is hard, and it means stepping outside your comfort zone, both physically and mentally. But these “difficult” workouts are actually launchpads to more health and wellness. So, flip the script in your head — when you feel fatigue, congratulate yourself on your success. “The burn” is bringing you closer to your fitness goals and supercharging your fitness motivation yet again.

Ready to Stick to Your Fitness Routine for Good?

We know — finding fitness motivation can feel impossible some days. But the good news is that there are tons of ways to encourage yourself to work out, from mindset shifts to accountability partners and clarifying your goals. Remember to celebrate the tough days when you struggle, and persevere even more than the easy days.

You can also find support, encouragement, and inspiration when you pair up with a personal trainer or coach. After all, nothing boosts fitness motivation quite like human accountability and connection, especially when it comes from an expert.

Kickoff digitally matches you to the very best trainer for you, making personal training more accessible and affordable than ever before. 

When you sign up, you’ll be paired with an online coach who provides daily support, customized workout plans, and nutrition feedback to help you reach your goals. 

Even more importantly, you’ll gain an ally who’ll help you overcome the myriad of hurdles that you’ll face along your fitness journey – from figuring out how to fit workouts into your busy schedule to finding healthy food that you (or your picky significant other) can get excited about.  

Get started or learn more about how it works today.