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How to Get Excited to Work Out (Really!)

May 4, 2014

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We all know that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. We’ve all heard the exercise recommendations, and we all know that awesome feeling you get post-workout. But while that euphoria after a gym session could be due to the endorphins released from physical exertion, or to the fact that your body feels energized and strong, for many of us, the main source of that happy feeling is the simple knowledge that the workout is done.

Let’s not sugarcoat things, a lot of us hate working out. We know we need to do it, but we dread those hours at the gym or laps around the park, or even a yoga class. We look at those magical unicorns who flit joyously off to the gym and think “Can I have some of whatever they’re on?”

While there may not be a miracle pill that will suddenly make you like exercise, there are ways to make it a much less dreaded task. Try these 11 super effective tricks to get yourself stoked for your next date with the treadmill.

How to Get Pumped to Work Out

1. Pick the soundtrack first. I used to listen to the same “workout” playlist every time I went to the gym, and it got old pretty quickly. I’d skip past half the songs and suffer through many more. But when a song that still got me pumped came on, my workout felt easier, my pace increased, and my endorphins surged. If you make a playlist or find a radio station where every song is one of those songs, your workout becomes much more fun, believe me. I’ve started listening to the workout playlists on the Spotify app, and they are a game changer. Is this a gym or a dance party?! I can’t even tell anymore!

2. Splurge for that neon sweatband. Or those awesome patterned yoga pants, or the super-pretty sports bra. Wearing things that make you look and feel good make a big difference in your state of mind. This applies to all aspects of life, but perhaps is even more relevant with exercise, where the body is the primary focus. On days when I’m really dreading a workout session, remembering my bright yellow yoga shorts usually turns my attitude around.

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Treat yourself to those awesome pants!

3. Use carrots, not sticks. Instead of being a drill sergeant about exercise, set up fun rewards for yourself after a workout. Whether it’s a stop at your favorite smoothie shop, a happy hour date with a friend, or just permission to veg on the couch and watch Scandal later, having something to look forward to immediately after a workout can be a great incentive to get moving.

4. Give yourself permission to listen to your body. I tend to push myself in physical activities—always doing the hardest version of an exercise, running as fast as I can, staying on the elliptical for five more minutes after exhaustion sets in. This mentality is not only bad for your body, it also guarantees that you’ll hate working out. Setting the expectation that you’ll respect what your body can handle on any given day, and making modifications for that, is both a radical act of self-care, and also a step toward making your workout enjoyable.

5. Don’t do things you dread. We all have one (or two, or three…) exercises that we really despise. For me, it’s high knees. I used to include high knees in my routine, because I felt like I needed to do them, and my hatred for the activity somehow made me feel they were even more necessary. But one day, I decided to stop the madness and declared that I would never do high knees again (unless I wanted to). And guess what? My workouts became way more pleasant, and they didn’t lose any of their effectiveness.

6. Shake up your routine. This is pretty common advice, but that doesn’t make it any less true or effective. Trying out different types of exercise is not only better for your body, it also adds a level of excitement and novelty to your routine that makes it more fun. Whether you try out a Zumba class, take a different route on your run, or experiment with new fitness apps, variety makes exercise better for the mind and body.

7. Appreciate your body. Your body does a lot for you. Exercise aside, your body works hard every day to let you do the basic things that are so easy to take for granted—eating, walking, breathing. The fact that you’re able-bodied enough to work out is an amazing bonus! Many people aren’t as lucky, and remembering that fact is a great motivator to get moving, as well as an effective way to practice more gratitude.

8. Sip something yummy. Pick a favorite (and low-sugar or sugar-free) drink to sip during your workout. If it’s a morning workout, an all-natural energy drink could be a good pick, and electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks are a great choice for the evening. Knowing I get to have a little treat like that always gets me looking forward to a visit to the gym.

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9. Work out like no one is watching. It’s easy to feel self-conscious when you’re exercising—you’re wearing tight clothes, making goofy movements, and possibly sweating profusely. But you know what? So is everyone else. It’s a fact of life that everyone looks ridiculous when they exercise. Also, everyone who is exercising is way too focused on their workout to notice the way you flail your arms on the treadmill. Let go. Maybe even have fun with it!

10. Work out like everyone is watching. Okay, this one is a little weird, but it works for me. Sometimes, I’ll pretend that I’m in a movie, maybe a cinematic Hollywood feature, maybe a fitness video. This not only makes my workout kind of fun (remember how awesome playing pretend was when you were little?), it also means that my form improves. After all, if people are going to be watching my plank, I’d better tighten it up, right?

11. Smile. Smiling will make you feel happier. Smiling at other people will make them feel happier, and likely smile back at you. Being smiled at makes you happy. It’s simple, but surprisingly effective. Put a big grin on your face as you think, “I’m going to go to Pilates after work,” and smile even wider when you walk into the studio. You just might be surprised at how the smile lingers even after you’ve stopped thinking about it.

What are your tips to motivating yourself for a workout? Share them with us in the comments section below!