A few hacks that will actually make you want to work out

A few hacks that will actually make you want to work out

We all know that sometimes it's not the workout itself that's the most challenging part of keeping fit, but, err, actually getting motivated to exercise in the first place. Seriously, we've all had those days of looking at our gym bags and having to fight the urge to curl up into the foetal position... right? If you're struggling to stay motivated with your fitness plan, then fear not: we have some handy hacks that'll help.

If your New Year's Resolution was to work out regularly, or start up (and commit!) to a training plan, then you might be feeling especially 'meh' at this point in the month – apparently the second Friday of January is known as 'Quitters Day' and is the time at which we all bail on our 'new year, new me' commitments.

But not you. Oh no, because you have our 16 tricks to stay on top your plan and committed to that #GymLife (including advice from top personal trainer and online coach, Hannah Kerridge, founder of HKFitness)...

Lay out your workout clothes the night before

The key to getting an early morning gym secessions in is to make it as easy as possible to roll out of bed before your brain has time to realise what you're doing. Prep everything you can the night before - we're talking your breakfastyour headphones, and crucially, your outfit. Some gym bunnies even swear by sleeping in their workout gear so that they really can just get up and go. It'll feel a little gross at first, but hey, it's going to get sweaty anyway, right?

Set your alarm to a song that makes you want to move…

The worst sound in the world is that droning, beeping iPhone alarm, so why are we all still waking up to it every single morning? Switching to your go-to dance jam will make those early starts a little more bearable, putting a spring in your step before you even get the first sniff of coffee.

Go for something with a strong beat, the type of track you'd want to work out to - and make sure to mix up the playlist, lest you condition yourself to hate the song more than you hated the OG iPhone alarm in the first place.

…and put your alarm clock far away from your bed

Let's face it: if you don't physically have to get out from under the covers, it just ain't happening. Provided you don't share a room with someone who gets up significantly later than you, leaving your alarm or phone as far out of your reach as possible will force you to leave your duvet cocoon to switch it the hell off. By the time that you're vertical, the hard part is already over, and you might as well crack on.

Schedule fun workouts only

Forcing yourself to attend a kickboxing class when you hate martial arts? Not a vibe. Having to rouse yourself to go to a dance class that you adore when you get there? So much better, says Kerridge. "You're more likely to stick with – and be enthusiastic about – an exercise plan if you actually enjoy what you're doing," she notes. "Trying a new class in particular can boost motivation too, not only does it mean you won't have to think about or plan what exercises to do – you just turn up, do the class and go home – but our brains respond well to novelty."

Time your hair washing schedule around your workouts

Let's say you're going to work out three times a week, and you're an every other day kinda hair-washer. Make a deal with yourself that you can only wash your hair after the sweaty end of that hardcore spin class or half hour run - and if you don't go, you've gotta stick with the grease. Not only is a long hot shower a great post-workout treat, if you do choose to skip it, you know there's only so much that dry shampoo can do…

Use old pictures to your advantage

Instead of paying heed to the advice of picking a snap where you're unhappy with how you look, why not set your background to a picture where you felt best in your body? Every time you see that image, you'll be reminded of your goal, and the fact that it is achievable, because you can see it on yourself.

However, a word of caution here, says Kerridge: "You also need to be realistic. If you're looking at a photo of yourself from a year ago, when you were in the best shape of your life and you want to work back towards that, then great!

"But if people are using images of themselves from years ago, say their teenage years and they're now in their thirties, that's not going to work. Our bodies change over time, for a million reasons (hormones, giving birth, metabolism slowing down), and that's normal. Don't set yourself up to fail by setting an unrealistic target for yourself."

... or surround yourself with fitspirational quotes

Set that lock screen to a motivational fitness quote instead. Whether it's 'you'll never regret a workout, but you'll regret skipping one' or 'stop wishing, start doing', pick an inspirational gym phrase that resonates with you and keep it somewhere prominent.

In addition to your phone, you could use it as your wallpaper on your work computer, or stick a print of it on the mirror you look into every morning. It's all about that mentality, baby.

Colour code your workout clothes

According to colour theory, red is the colour of energy, making it ideal for days when you're working on crushing your cardio. No need to go head-to-toe tomato, as even a little pop is likely to invigorate you, and you can get similar stimulation from brights like neon too.

At the other end of the spectrum, cooler blues and greens can aid concentration and focus for slower-paced workouts like yoga or weights.

Start small

Feeling like you can't face exercise at all today? Tell yourself that you're just going to put your kit on. Once you're wearing the right stuff, it's very unlikely you'll change back out of it without doing anything. Promise that you'll work out for just five minutes, and then five minutes more, and keep challenging yourself until you're really, truly done. Even if you only do 15 minutes, it's 15 minutes more that you felt like you wanted to do at the beginning.

Listen to a podcast

A killer workout playlist is obviously a great motivator, but sometimes, a really great podcast is even better. Podcasts vary from hilarious (we're loving Call Her Daddy and Kathy Burke's When There's A Will, There's A Wake) to fascinating (BBC History Extra Podcast, anyone?) to inspirational (TED Talks), so there's something out there to distract everyone from the pain of sweating it out on the treadmill. Limit yourself to only listening to an episode or a chapter when you're exercising - soon enough, you'll hit an awesome cliffhanger that will make you uncharacteristically desperate for your next workout, just so you can find out what happens.

Shift your mindset

Be it at the end of the working day, or first-thing in the morning when all you want to do is crawl back into bed for some sneaky extra kip, repeating a mantra will help. "Instead of thinking 'urgh, I have to work out' why not try repeating to yourself 'I'm lucky that I can workout' or 'I'm grateful that I have a gym pass'," Kerridge suggests. "It'll help you to feel like exercise isn't a punishment, but a positive addition to your life. The second you start seeing it as a punishment is the second that motivation levels will start to dip."

She also advises remembering your 'why' – so why you wanted to commit to working out in the first place – and repeating a mantra related to that e.g. 'I'm doing this to feel more confident on my next holiday' or 'I'm doing this because I know it helps my mental health'.

Social media accountability

If people can show off about their incredible holiday or latest shopping haul, you're well without your rights to shout about your fitness regime from the rafters. Not only is using social media a great way to record your progress and keep yourself accountable, it gives you instant gratification every time you upload a snap and the hearts start flooding in. If you can't bring yourself to exercise for the health benefits, the endorphins or the epic meal you'll get to eat afterwards, then by all means, do it for the likes.

Put money aside each time you exercise

Most of us wouldn't go to work if we didn't earn money, so applying the same principle totally makes sense - almost like tipping yourself every time you keep to your workout schedule.

Reward yourself with something other than food

We get it: most of us work out for another glass of vino, or an extra slice of cake, and we'd never deny you booze or carbs. But if you can break free of the cycle of feeling like you have to 'earn' food, you can learn to associate other enjoyable activities with exercise – for instance, always having a hot bath with expensive bubbles or watching an hour of your fave Netflix show after a workout. Eventually, your body will begin to anticipate the treat at the end of the hard stuff, and you'll start realising it's totally worth it after all.

Commit to exercising with a friend

Having someone to rely on for added motivation can be really beneficial, says Kerridge. "Not only will they spur you on, but you're less likely to bail – especially during an early morning session – if you know someone is relying on you!"

Look at the bigger picture

There will be times that taking a day off is needed and beneficial, says Kerridge, but you need to be honest with yourself. Are you really sick or are you feeling lazy? Or are you feeling like it's not worth your time anymore because the results aren't happening fast enough? "If you work out three times a week for an hour, that's around 1.8% of your week, and in the grand scheme of things... that's nothing. Those three sessions are enough to reduce your risk of diabetes, depression, certain cancers and more. Exercise can be your superpower and should be celebrated."

"Don't go in with an all or nothing mindset, a lot of people lose motivation because they expect their whole life just to be figured out in the gym, or they want quick results – and if they don't see them, their will to work out drops," she adds. "Understand it's a lifestyle change and a long process, but as part of that even the most dedicated of gym rats take time off. The key thing is they get back to it after a break or some time out."


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