When it comes to fitness, it’s easy to think that we’re either someone who springs out of bed to embark on a morning run, or we’re someone who presses the snooze button on their alarm. But motivation is something that can wane over time. In fact, even fitness fanatics can find it hard to muster the energy and enthusiasm for a workout routine with no variety. Often, many of us have a specific goal in mind when we move our bodies; whether it’s a certain amount of kilometres we want to reach, a PB we’d like to achieve at the gym, or a new yoga move we’d like to master. Whether or not we’re experiencing joy during exercising is often the last thing that we consider. But making working out a point in the day that we look forward to, rather than dread, can help us fight fitness fatigue, boost our motivation and even supercharge our confidence.
Change things up
A routine might be key to structuring our day, but it can sometimes cause us to get stuck in a rut. With only so many hours out of 24 to work out in, we often want our exercise sessions to be simple, quick and easy, but unfortunately, this can lead to us doing the same sort of exercise, on repeat. “There are several signs which tell us that our existing workout routines are not working for us anymore,” says PT Reiss Mogilner (f45training. co.uk/millhill/home). “If you used to enjoy and look forward to running or laying your mat out for Pilates, but lately you can think of other things you would rather do with that time, then it’s likely you’re getting bored with your existing routine. If you’re finding yourself becoming injured in the same place or certain parts of your body are hurting more often, then it is likely you’re overtraining and need to mix it up.”
Focus on the feeling
“If you’re not getting any joy from your workouts, the thought of exercise becomes draining,” says Georgie Spurling, fitness coach and founder of GS Method (gsmethod.co.uk). “You also may feel lethargic because negative thoughts can lead to feeling a bit ‘meh’ in general. If you feel exhausted after every workout it can also deplete your fun massively. Finding your motivation could be as simple as scaling back the number of hours you’re training, or alternating those harder aerobic sessions with lighter, LISS-style workouts instead. If neither of those bring you any success, then perhaps this is your sign to try something else.” Kickstarting something new can help us get out of a fitness funk and build confidence in our abilities.
“Experimenting is the first step here; don’t be scared to change things up or try something new,” advises Georgie. “Sometimes you need a little push in the right direction – booking an active retreat will give you a new experience and you’ll go home with a bespoke plan filled with movement you love.” A good deal of fitness classes offer free first session options or don’t require you to commit to more than just one class, so take advantage of offers like these.
If you enjoy… Spending time with others
If you loved doing team sports when you were younger, then exercising with others could be the way forward. “Find ways of combining your workout with socialising,” says Simon Zhao, PT (abodyforever.com). “This could be with friends, families or even partners. Training this way not only makes you accountable, but also makes working out more fun. Having a catch-up before, during, or after your session with your training partner makes working out less of a chore. You’ll have another person to help think of new methods or ideas to spice up your current workout, as well as someone to spot you if you need help pushing past your limits.” No buddies you can exercise with? Group training can help with getting to know new people – try sports such as netball, rugby, football or even hockey if you want to experience that ‘Go Team!’ feeling.
If you enjoy… Going at your own pace
Working out solo isn’t for everyone, but there are benefits to going it alone. If you’re an introvert who really values time by yourself, then seeing your workout as a chance to switch off, listen to that podcast you like, or plug in some classical music, can be beneficial for your mental health. If it’s me-time you’re craving, then a gentle stroll or a hike can be a good way to process your thoughts. Tune in to our Walk To Wellbeing podcast if you want to be in like-minded company on your walk.
If you enjoy… Being outside
“Something people often forget about is the importance of inspiring surroundings,” says PT Sarah Davies (beachbodyondemand.com). “Taking your favourite workout to a scenic location can be a gamechanger. That might mean yoga at the beach, or a run through your local park or woodland. Just make sure it’s somewhere you enjoy being!”
If you enjoy… exercising at home
Exercising in the same space doing the same workout, can easily result in fitness fatigue. But if you prefer to sweat in the comfort of your own home, then making the space that you work out in as inviting as possible is key here. “If you’re still training at home, create an airy, bright and safe workout space, clear of obstacles, with your favourite tunes at the ready to really fire up that fitness flame,” says Sarah. “Make an effort to plan your kit as this will stop you having to go and find it mid-session – resistance bands and loops are a great low-cost option that can be used for a wide selection of exercises.” For yogis, making your home studio as relaxing as possible, with candles, soft lighting and calm music, can make a difference to how you view your practice and help you see it as a time to escape the daily busyness of life.
4 sure-fire ways to finish your workout with a smile
- End on a high
Are you a master at squats or a big fan of butterfly stroke? Wrap up your workout sesh with the exercise or technique you know you can nail in an instant. Psychology shows that doing something we know we’re good at still makes us feel accomplished, plus you’ll get bonus endorphins for adding a finisher exercise to your routine.
- Breathe easy
If you’ve done a high-energy workout, then chances are your heart rate is going to be elevated. Enter breathwork. Slow, deep breathing is a sure-fire way to bring your heart rate down and your calmness levels up.
- Make your own finisher playlist
“Music has the ability to change our mood instantly,” says PT Jericho McMatthews (beachbodyondemand.com). “It can take us away from the present and even take us into an alter ego; consider punching the air in total silence versus boxing to a Beyonce song. Selecting tracks that match the mood or intensity of your workout can help you push harder, lift your pace or power through fatigue and discomfort during the most challenging parts of your circuit.” Creating a finisher playlist that you can switch on 10 minutes before your workout is up can give you an endorphin rush towards the end. Prefer to wind down? Make a playlist for your cool-down routine instead, with calmer songs that have a slow tempo.
- Stretch it out
If you’re guilty of skipping a stretch post-workout, then now is the time to prioritise it. Not only will it help prevent soreness the following day, but certain yoga poses can also help to lower your heart rate. Try Forward Fold, Cat-Cow Pose, and, of course, Happy Baby Pose, to end your workout session on a calm, chilled-out note.