Before I get into the post, I just want to let you all know that this will be my last Sunday blog post for the time being. As much as I love posting twice a week, there’s too much on my plate right now. I’ll still be posting on Tuesdays, and posting less often will give me the time to write even better posts. Quality over quantity, right?
If you want more Abby in your life, make sure to check out my YouTube channel and get on my email list to get an email from me every Monday. There are also over 125 posts on the blog, so you'll have time to read some old ones. Here are a few of my faves:
Getting to the gym regularly seems to be a near-universal struggle. The fitness subreddit is full of posters wondering how they’re supposed to go to the gym when they don’t want to. When I asked about it on Instagram, 90% of the respondents said that working out more was one of their goals.
So how do the regular gym-goers manage it?
1. Check in with yourself
One of the most common reasons that I don’t want to go to the gym, especially when I first started working out, is my gym anxiety. Even now, after I’ve had it more or less under control for quite a while, if I spend too long away from the gym or I’m having a bad day, the anxiety can pop back up.
For many people, the reasons why we don’t want to go to the gym are emotional. I’m not talking just feeling lazy. I mean that going to the gym can cause you to compare yourself to others, making you feel bad, or that your workout makes you feel worse about your body, rather than better.
Check in with yourself about why you don’t want to go to the gym. You may find that switching to a new workout, working out with a buddy, or even switching to a new gym will make it easier to get yourself to the gym.
If your workout doesn’t make you feel better about yourself, or at least more accomplished, chances are, something needs to change.
If you’re typically pretty good about going to the gym but you’re struggling particularly hard this week or this month, checking in with yourself may help you to notice that you’re burning out and in need of a guilt-free break. Maybe you’re just too busy and overwhelmed and need to cut back on workout time to find more balance.
Whether it’s anxiety, comparison, or burnout, checking in with yourself can help you figure out why you don’t want to go to the gym. Once you figure out why you’re struggling, it’s easier to find a solution that addresses the problem, rather than the symptoms.
And if the problem is gym anxiety, this post may help you move forward.
2. Find your Why
Yes, this again. If you’re new and haven’t heard me talk about finding your Why yet, start here.
A couple of weeks ago, I published a list of 101 reasons why I work out. No, you don’t have to find 101 reasons why you work out, but if you’re feeling particularly unmotivated about going to the gym, revisiting the reasons why you started working out can give you a boost.
Keep in mind that our Whys can, and frequently do, change over time. If don’t want to go to the gym, your Why may have changed and your current workout no longer suits your motivations.
If you haven’t yet created a list of reasons why you work out, start there. Chances are, by the end of it, you’ll be ready to hit the gym.
If you already have a list, revisit and reconsider it. It may still be accurate, or maybe it’s time to shift your goals. If your initial workout goal was an aesthetic one (as many people’s are), you may find that you now value strength and progress over aesthetics. This will change your Why, your goals, and your workout. It’ll also re-up your motivation.
3. Drum up some excitement
Now, some of you may know that I’m not typically a caffeine person. I can’t even handle one regular cup of coffee. It makes me jittery and unfocused and prevents me from sleeping.
That said, I’ve learned that a bit of caffeine and some good music really amp up my workout. Caffeine may not be good for a focused writing session, but a mug of tea or half-caf puts me exactly where I need to be to dance around the gym and power through my workout.
I’m not the only person who does this, either. Plenty of people take their pre-workout (which typically contains caffeine) as soon as they wake up so that they have no choice but to get into the gym. The energy boost and music make working out way more enjoyable.
If that’s not your thing, find something else that makes you excited about hitting the gym. This could be new leggings (wearing my favorite outfit always makes me excited about working out), creating a new gym playlist, and switching up a stale workout routine.
Just a little bit of change away from your usual routine can take your focus off of how much you don’t want to go to the gym and move it to how much you do want to do that new thing you’ve planned.
4. Find a buddy
Accountability buddies typically aren’t my thing, especially when it comes to working out. Gym time is me-time, and I just want to put my headphones in and get focused.
Buuuuuut… accountability buddies work. They work really, really well.
For the last several weeks, my mom has been coming to the gym with me. I invited her because my membership allows me to bring a guest and I like to encourage those around me to live healthy lives.
This means that every other day for the last several weeks, my mom shows up at my apartment at 7:30 in the morning, ready to get her gym on. And since someone else is waiting for me, I have no choice but to get up and get to the gym. I can’t skip it even if I want to.
Chances are, some of your friends or coworkers are also trying to work out more. Remember how I said 90% of the people who answered my Instagram poll want to work out more? Ask around and see who is willing to hold you accountable in exchange for you holding them accountable.
5. Employ your self-discipline
All seasoned gym-goers know this, but for many people new to fitness, it might not be obvious: it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it.
You aren’t always going to feel like going to the gym. In fact, there will be times where you don’t feel like going to the gym for weeks or months on end. If you’re relying on motivation, that’s when you’ll quit.
The people who can only hold onto a gym habit for a few months before abandoning it are relying on motivation. Consistently working out takes discipline.
You can do things that you don’t feel like doing. It might be difficult, but you can do it. And so that’s what you do. Acknowledge that you don’t really want to and then go do it anyway.
That’s the secret. This is the one thing that all consistent, long-term gym-goers do. They stop trying to rely on motivation, and they just get up and do the workout.
Rather than drumming up the motivation to get moving every day, work on making it a habit. Create a routine.
Go to the gym at the same time every day if you can. Do the same pre-gym ritual each day, and if it helps, give yourself a little post-gym reward each time.
The important thing here is that you don’t think, you just do. You already know that you need to go to the gym. There’s no debating, there’s no choice to be made, there is no option not to go. So you go.
Do I feel motivated to work out every time I go to the gym? Absolutely not. Do I enjoy every workout? Nope. Do I feel like going to the gym most mornings? Also no. But I do it anyway, and I'm always glad that I did.
When you accept that just doing it is easier than fighting with yourself and trying to rely on motivation every time, you’ll have a much easier time getting to the gym, even if you don’t feel like it.
It’s not a fun little life hack, but it’s the truth, and it will serve you better than any life hack ever will.