January is officially twice as long as all the other months, so if you’ve stayed on track with working out, well done. But don’t stop now – here’s how to keep that motivation going when the new year feels like a distant memory.
Motivation: it’s that elusive feeling that keeps you going when the chips are down, when life gets busy, when things feel, well, hard. Motivation is a fluid notion, fluctuating depending on tiredness levels, time of the month and more, but it’s generally accepted that at least some motivation is needed to stick to an exercise regime.
We’re really good at starting the year on a motivational high, but with less than 10% of us sticking with those January resolutions for more than a few months, we could all do with some advice on how to keep going when our internal drive starts to wane. Here, we asked some trusted personal trainers for their seven top motivation tips to power you through February and beyond.
Work out with a friend
It’s an old one, but a good one. You’re much more likely to stick with an exercise plan if someone is holding you accountable – it’s pretty brutal to let a friend down when they’re standing on your doorstep in the pouring rain, waiting to go for a run.
“Having a buddy to train with you or even just check in with helps keep you on track,” says Kirsten Whitehouse, trainer and founder of Wolf Approach Fitness. “Get your family to support you too. It’s really important to share what you’re trying to achieve with those close to you, and think about how they can support you – this can really drive you forward and give you that extra oomph.”
Make a date with yourself
“Schedule your workouts; put them in your diary around your other commitments,” advises personal trainer Mandy Wong Oultram. “Plan them for when you are least likely to abandon the idea, such as first thing in the morning before the day runs away from you.”
And you know what they say – you never regret a workout.
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Be realistic with your exercise goals
No matter how motivated you are, if you hate getting up early, then the thought of a 6am HIIT classin the gym will fill you with dread (take it from someone who knows). Part of the battle is choosing something you’ll enjoy and isn’t too far outside your capabilities.
“Create manageable targets, and by that I mean ones that you have an eight out of 10 chance of actually doing,” advises Wong Oultram. “If your average daily step count is 5,000, set a target for 6,000 or 7,000 and work out how you will walk your extra steps easily, rather than having your goal as 10,000 and not making it.”
This way, rather than constantly feeling you’ve failed, you can achieve a win each day, even if it seems small.
Celebrate the small wins
It’s so important to take the time to congratulate yourself, however insignificant your progress may seem.
“Celebrate all the small wins!” urges Wong Oultram. “Never underestimate the power of patting yourself on the back for small steps that you have made towards your goals. All progress, no matter how small, should be noted.”
And once you’ve achieved a goal – reward yourself. “Plan an incentive for when you achieve a goal,” says Whitehouse. “And print a photo of yourself to spur you on the next time your motivation is running low.”
Keep it simple
There’s no doubt about it, fitness can be technical. From apps to EMOMs, the workout world can seem daunting, especially if you’re a beginner. But don’t let that put you off, advises Andrew Telfer, personal trainer and head coach of Wild Strong.
“You don’t need to overcomplicate everything with apps if you find tech solutions exhausting,” he reassures. “And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s often better to just act and do something than to wait for everything to be perfect. Something is better than nothing. Some days you might just have the energy for a walk, and that’s OK.”
And don’t beat yourself up when things inevitably don’t go to plan. “Don’t catastrophise,” urges Telfer. “It’s OK to miss a workout out or have a day off. This is part of a process; accept it and move on.”
“Accept that the road to success is not linear,” agrees Whitehouse. “A bad day will not undo your hard work but make sure to pick up where you left off.”
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Create a banging playlist
Music has been scientifically proven to boost a workout, and the thrill of moving your body to your favourite tracks is unrivalled.
“Create a motivating playlist of your favourite music to work out to – to lift your mood, boost your happiness and reduce any anxiety you might have,” enthuses Wong Oultram. “Make your mind associate exercise with good times!”
Consider hiring a PT
If funds allow, and you’re not quite disciplined enough to work out by yourself, a PT can be a great option, even if just for a short period of time.
“Hiring a personal trainer can be a great way to have someone else plan your workouts, challenge your mindset and keep you on track towards your goals,” advises Wong Oultram. “A great PT will teach you proper technique, help you reduce injuries and feel more confident at the gym – all things you can take forward by yourself once you’re confident enough.”
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