5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get Back to the Gym

We all go through those times when we just don’t want to go to the gym. Maybe you have a ton of classes this semester, a demanding workload, or are working on top of school. At the end of the day, you probably feel too exhausted to find the motivation to go for a run, take a yoga class, or lift some weights.

But your slump doesn’t have to last forever, and it’s not impossible to get yourself back on a regular gym schedule. Although, if we’re being honest, it will take some work. Don’t worry though—HC has some tips on how to make your return to the gym a little bit easier.

1. Start out slow

If you haven’t been to the gym in months, don’t start the first day back with a 5k sprint on the treadmill. Doing that will only make you more discouraged about working out. Yes, after a long break you’re not going to be able to do all the things you were able to do before—you won’t be able to run as long or lift as much, and maybe you can only do five pushups instead of ten—but if you give yourself time, you’ll get it all back.

And if you’re having trouble getting yourself out the door, just think off all the benefits that regular exercise has:

  • You’ll feel like a badass when you’re done

  • You’ll be more energized throughout the day (it seems unbelievable that you’d have more energy after a tough workout, but trust us it’s true)

  • It helps clear your head and destress

  • It’s a lot better for you than just sitting on the couch (an obvious one, we know)

  • You can gain muscle strength and tone your body

  • You won’t feel guilty about eating that extra cookie or two for dessert

2. Plan your gym sessions out at the beginning of the week

If you plan out which days you’re going to go the gym before the week starts, you’re more likely to follow through. Instead of just waiting for a time when you “feel like” going (because if you’re in a slump, that day probably won’t come), plan it out and be consistent.

“I definitely think that being consistent is the most important thing,” says Vanessa Medina, Emerson College class of 2021. “I know for me personally, if I skip one day at the gym it sets the tone for the rest of the week. Consistency is key—if I go every day it helps me to keep my motivation up.”

Make a plan and stick to it!

Related: 7 Body Positive Habits You Should Add to Your Routine

3. Sign up for exercise classes

Going to the gym by yourself and planning a workout on your own may seem daunting, especially if you haven’t been in a while. A great way to ease back into things is to sign up for workout classes.

“If you are able to I think that signing up for a consistent exercise class or a personal trainer is a great motivator. If you have a scheduled class or appointment you are so much less likely to flake and stay home because you’re probably going to lose money,” says Meghan Shaffer, a junior at The College of the Holy Cross.

Plus, if you attend a class you have both the instructor and the other people taking the class to push you to do your best. You’ll work out harder if there’s someone whose sole purpose is to motivate you and a group of people challenging you to keep going.

4. Find some cute workout clothes

If all you have to work out in is an old tee shirt and ratty shorts, it probably won’t help you get excited about going to the gym. But if you have something cute to work out in, you’ll probably be more likely to go.

“If I buy cute gym stuff, I feel good when I’m going to the gym or to a workout class. If you feel good, you’ll feel more motivated to get up and go,” says Vanessa. Even though we all love Lululemon, there are so many more affordable sites to choose from. Places like Fabletics offer subscriptions services and discounts for members, and even Gap and Old Navy have some really cute leggings and sports bras to choose from.

And you can’t just leave your new matching leggings and tank sets sitting in your drawers. You’ll want to show them off, and there’s no better place to do it than at the gym!

5. Have a workout routine that you like

If you’re someone who prefers working out on your own, rather than with a group or in a class, make sure you have a workout plan that you like. “The key is to find a good workout routine. I think once you find the routine that works for you and gets you excited to get up in the morning, then you always have the motivation to go to the gym,” says Sophia Liu, a 2018 graduate of Smith College.

Make a list of all the exercises you’re going to do at the gym beforehand, that way you won’t find yourself walking in circles unable to decide what to do next. If you have a plan, you won’t end up doing the same three exercises over and over.

And make sure it includes things you enjoy. If you hate cardio but have running on the schedule for the next day, you’re going to be less excited to get up and go. But if you combine some of your least favorite things with exercises that you like, you’ll have a much better time. If you love core exercises, alternate between the treadmill and crunches.

Whether you try one of these tips or follow them all, getting back to the gym will be so much easier. Even though it might seem daunting at first, in the long run, you’ll thank yourself for finding the motivation to start working out again. Just think of all the abs you’ll (potentially) have and how great you’ll feel!