Lacking Fitness Motivation? Here's How to Get And Stay Motivated

By Rachel Lustbader

Updated February 25, 2020

Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW


Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. Exercise has numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular and lung function, weight management, and cellular regeneration. However, the mental benefits of exercise may be even more valuable than the physical benefits. Exercise has been proven to help ease symptoms of depression and provides an effective mood boost thanks to endorphins. Exercise, along with therapy, is a great way to help address symptoms of depression and anxiety.

But, despite knowing the benefits of working out, it is not always easy to stay motivated to exercise. The key to finding, and maintaining, fitness motivation is to make your workouts part of your daily life. Check out the tips below on how to find your workout motivation.

Disclaimer: Weight Loss Motivation Or Fitness Motivation?

Before you begin reading the fitness motivation tips, it is important to note that weight loss motivation and fitness motivation are not the same things. Weight loss motivation involves many things other than just exercise. It is true that working out can help you lose weight, but it is much more important to focus on your diet and living an overall healthy lifestyle. If you plan to lose weight only from exercising or your main goal of exercising is to lose weight, you may be disappointed.

Working out helps you build muscle and can help you decrease body fat, but it does not always lead to weight loss. This is not to discourage you from exercising- fitness is very important for overall health, and can add a lot of value to your life. But, your main goal for fitness should be about health, not solely weight loss. If you keep this in mind, it will be easier to maintain your fitness motivation over time.

Fitness Motivation Tips


Play The Field

The key to making fitness part of your daily life is to find a form of exercise that you genuinely enjoy. When trying to get motivated to workout on a regular basis, play the field and experiment with different types of workouts, gym locations, and class instructors. Finding a workout that you look forward to makes it much easier to stay motivated and make exercising part of your daily routine. Do not stop looking until you try a workout that you could see yourself doing on a regular basis. Once you find a workout that you enjoy and look forward to, fitness motivation comes easily.

Be Realistic

Many people fall into the trap of thinking that becoming a regular exerciser will somehow change who they are as a person. The majority of the time, this is simply not the case. Thus, when devising a workout plan, be realistic and honest with yourself about what you can commit to.

For example, if you are not a morning person, you will not enjoy 6 AM workouts. If you schedule all of your workouts for early in the morning, you most likely will end up skipping the gym in favor of the snooze button plenty of times, and ultimately lose your motivation to go to the gym at all. In some cases starting a workout routine does change someone's habits, but for the most part, things like your preference for mornings or nighttime do not change.

If you want to maintain your fitness motivation, you must be honest with yourself both when deciding when you will workout, your free time, and about your goals. If you are very busy and can only workout once or twice a week, that is perfectly fine, but it will take longer for you to see results. Think about what you can commit to and consider not setting goals that go beyond that commitment. Setting realistic expectations helps you maintain your fitness motivation and avoid frustration or discouragement.

Find A Buddy

Having a workout buddy can make all the difference in your motivation to go to the gym, especially when you are first starting out with an exercise routine. If you have active friends, ask them about tagging along to their favorite workout classes to see if it suits you. If you have other friends who would like to start working out, reach out to them and make a plan to tackle your workouts together. A workout buddy will not only make workouts more fun, but they can hold you accountable and help keep you motivated.

If you do not have any friends with whom you would like to exercise, try working out in a class setting. Classes are motivating in themselves, and the energy of the other exercises can push you to put in your best effort. Plus, if you find a class you love and become a regular, you most likely can make friends with other attendees simply by being friendly.

However, one thing to be wary of when it comes to a workout buddy is not to let them influence you too much. You need to be motivated enough to still go to the gym even if your friend decides they are going to skip the workout. It is best to find other people who are strongly motivated and who will support you, rather than encourage you to slack off.

Keep Track

Another way to stay motivated to workout is to keep track of your workouts. Make a note of the days you exercise using a fitness tracking app or in a planner or calendar. Even better, write down your workouts on your to-do list or make an event on your calendar, and mark the item as completed when you finish the workout. This gives you an extra sense of accomplishment and can help fuel your fitness motivation.

Tracking your workouts can also help you keep tabs on how exercise makes you feel, and what works and what does not. If you want to get the most out of this, make a habit of quickly journaling about your workout, including what type of workout you did (weightlifting vs. cardio vs. cycling class, etc.) and how it made you feel. This record can be an invaluable resource to determine the best workouts for you to feel your best.

Plus, the record can give you some extra motivation if you ever feel like giving up on fitness. It serves as a reminder of how hard you have already worked and can motivate you to keep going.


Plan Ahead

Along with scheduling your workouts, you should do some planning the night before a workout to make it as easy as possible to stick with your workout plan. Often, once you have your gym gear on you feel ready to go, even if you lacked the motivation to work out before. To help increase your chances of actually making it to the gym, lay out your gym clothes and shoes for the next day at night before you go to bed. Then, in the morning, you have no excuse to make it to your workout.

This tip still applies if you are planning on working out later in the day, too. Seeing your clothes out all day can serve as a reminder of your workout that evening. If you are working out during or immediately after work, you should pack your gym bag the night before, as well.

You should also consider preparations other than your clothes, such as food to power you through your workout. If you are working out in the morning, you may choose to do so in a fasted state, but if you plan on exercising after work, be sure to pack some snacks in your gym bag. Food is fuel and is necessary for a good workout, and if you are feeling too hungry and tired, you are more likely to go home and skip the gym.

Planning by making sure you are ready to go the night before a workout keeps you motivated and on track with your workouts. Even if you were thinking about skipping a workout, seeing your gym clothes ready to go will give you an extra boost of motivation.

Invest In Gear

Many people feel self-conscious when they first start going to the gym, but in reality, most people are too engaged in their workouts to pay attention to other exercisers. Still, fear of being judged is a real problem in the fitness world and can cause someone to lose their motivation to workout.

One way to combat this is to invest in new workout attire and shoes that make you feel good. The key here is not to buy new clothes just to be trendy or fit in with anyone else. But, finding some workout clothes that make you feel confident can be just what you need to find your workout motivation. Working out should feel empowering, not cause self-consciousness. Having clothes to exercise in that make you feel good can make you much more motivated to workout. Plus, once you invest in clothing or shoes, you will want to put them to use!

Sleep Well

It is hard enough to get through the day when sleep deprived, so you are not going to be motivated to workout without adequate sleep. Getting a restful sleep every night is crucial to ensure you have the energy to feel motivated to workout the next day. If you are embarking on an exercise routine, make sleep a priority while you adjust so that you know you will have the energy to power through your workouts. If you tend to have trouble falling asleep, exercise may be a solution, too. Once you start exercising regularly, it should be easier to sleep because you are using more energy throughout the day.


Be Consistent

Fitness is not about working out the absolute hardest you can take every day. It is about consistency. You should aim to do something every day, even if that something is just a quick walk or stretching session. Doing so will keep you motivated to keep going with your workout routine, and prevent you from falling into a slump.

A good rule of thumb is to never go more than three days without working out or some other form of exercise. If you are going through a busy time and do not have time to make it to the gym, there are plenty of workouts posted for free online that you can do at home. Many of them require no equipment, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. Making sure to never go too long without at least some exercise is a great way to hold onto your fitness motivated.

Have Patience

Although it would be nice, you will not see results from working out overnight. It can take a long time for your efforts to start to show in your physical appearance, and you need to be realistic about that when starting a fitness routine so that you do not lose your motivation. Try to think about fitness as a lifestyle, and focus on all of the health benefits it provides outside of physical appearance.

Keeping all of these tips in mind, and setting realistic expectations about when you will see results, can prevent you from getting discouraged and losing your fitness motivation.

It may not seem possible right now, but if you find a type of workout you genuinely enjoy and stick with it for a while, it will become part of your daily routine. Once something becomes a habit, it becomes much easier to stay motivated. With time, you may find that staying motivated to work out is no problem at all.

Previous Article

Motivation Books To Get You Pumped - Here's Why
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.