If you don’t love working out, how do you will yourself to do it?

We get this question all the time– and even more so since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s such a common struggle– if you experience low motivation and focus around working out you are not alone!

With that in mind, here are some ideas about how to tackle it:

1) Build the workout habit with non-exercise movements you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be working out in a formal sense like in a class or with weights per se. Instead, start with any kind of activity that makes you feel joyful, peaceful, excited, etc. For instance you could try hiking, biking, skating, jumping rope, walking around petting neighborhood cats, dancing, geocaching, chores, etc.

If covid mostly keeps you inside these days, you could start with indoor activities like stretching, yoga, or even just working from a standing desk instead of sitting all day.

2) Get over the inertia of starting by giving yourself an “out” for your workouts. This works really well for home workouts. You don’t have to do the hardest or longest workout ever, just show up (even if it’s to your living room) and do something. Try setting a timer for 15min and moving in some way the whole time. Allow yourself to stop after 15min if you’re miserable, or if you find you’re enjoying it— keep going! (You can do this repeatedly throughout the workout, too.)

3) Don’t wait until you “feel like it” to exercise. Honestly, you just wont always feel like, especially in the early days. That’s okay, that’s normal– especially if you’re struggling with a lot of emotions or fatigue from being isolated at home all the time.

Instead, schedule your workouts on your calendar and treat them like an appointment you wouldn’t consider skipping– the way you would treat an appointment with a doctor or massage therapist. Basically you’re going to treat yourself the way you’d treat someone who would charge you regardless of whether or not you show up. This works well with the timer trick too!

You could also ask a coach to help you create this kind of accountability if you struggle to do it for yourself (which we would be happy to help with!).

4) Find your why— because you feel like you “should” workout isn’t enough. It sounds sappy, but if you know what you’re working for it gets a lot easier. For me, exercise is all about feeling happier and more focused, and a feeling a sense of agency and control over my life.

Some other reasons to workout could also be: living longer, managing or eliminating pain, getting better at a spot, having more energy, sleeping better, having better sex, being able to have more physical hobbies, fitting the clothes you like, improving your immunity (a little extra help during a global pandemic never hurts!), reducing anxiety, improving attention/ focus/ productivity, having an opportunity to make friends and socialize… or you could just workout because you enjoy it!

5) Don’t forget, you don’t have to force yourself to do workouts you don’t enjoy. Bodies need to move, but what that looks and feels like is up to you and what works for YOUR body!

Have a trick that always works for you when you’re not feeling motivated to workout? Advice for others on how to get their mojo back? Leave your tips in a comment below! 


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Emily is the owner of Bold & Badass Fitness, as well as one of the gym's coaches. She is passionate about social justice, powerlifting, science-fiction, and her chirpy calico cat, Koshka.

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