Motivation is a fickle trait. Some days we’re brimming with it, other days we have absolutely no desire to do anything. It’s true of work, and it’s particularly true of movement. As a personal trainer, I’ve come to realise that the language I use with clients is every bit as important as the sessions I programme, which is why I’ve used the word “movement” instead of “exercise” in this feature.
I’ve found that the word “exercise” can have negative connotations for some people, or be quite triggering. Perhaps you’ve used exercise as punishment in the past. Maybe you’ve exercised to try and change your body because you think it doesn’t fit society’s “ideal”?
For many people, exercise is synonymous with gyms, spin classes or treadmills. Often, it’s something that people don’t particularly enjoy, but something they feel they should do. For me, movement is exercise. And movement can be anything from that aforementioned spin class to running after your child. It could be swimming in the sea, it might be a hike in your favourite beauty spot.
Exercise, movement – whatever you want to call it – finding the motivation do it it can be tough. Maybe you’re a sleep-deprived parent, as lots of my clients are. Perhaps you’re ridiculously stressed at work. Whatever the reason, I’m sharing my top tips for getting your movement mojo back – because yes, even personal trainers really CBA to move sometimes.
REFRAME YOUR WORKOUT
This goes back to my point about exercise vs movement. Exercise doesn’t have to be done in a gym. It doesn’t have to involve a single squat. As soon as I started thinking about “movement”, instead of “exercise”, I viewed it in a completely different way. You’re literally just moving your body – for me, sometimes that’s a stretch or yoga session, sometimes it’s a long walk, sometimes it’s lifting weights, sometimes it’s a run. Change your terminology and I bet you’ll change your outlook.
DEFINE YOUR WHY
This one follows on the previous point. Why are you moving your body? Is it for the mood-boost? Is it to feel stronger and fitter? Is it to smash a PB? Whenever motivation is low, remember your why and you’ll find your incentive.
Think about what you can fit into your week. If that’s two 30-minute movement windows, brilliant. If you tell yourself you’re going to exercise five days a week when there’s no way your schedule will allow for that, you’re only going to beat yourself up about it. Set an achievable plan and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you stick to it.
If you’ve promised your mate you’ll meet them for a run/class/tennis match at a certain time, you’re far less likely to bail. You’ll also have someone to go for a coffee or something to eat with afterwards. Win-win.
(DON’T) GO HARD OR GO HOME
As I’ve said before, movement is movement. I don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to be struggling for breath or feeling like you’re about to pass out for it to be valid. Try and get as much movement into your day as possible – walk to the office, take the stairs, make sure you’re not sitting down for too long. These things might seem small and insignificant in isolation, but they add up across the week and have a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
I hate spin classes. Always have. So I don’t do them. My time is too precious to spend doing things that I don’t enjoy. Whether it’s netball, Crossfit or rockclimbing, find out what gets your endorphins flowing and you won’t want to stop.
TELL YOURSELF YOU’LL FEEL BETTER FOR IT
Generally, no matter how much I really don’t want to move, I always feel better for it afterwards. Not just physically, but mentally too. The endorphin high is real, and can be almost euphoric. Personally, I try to see movement as a form of self-care, something that fills up my cup. It’s not something I have to do, it’s something I want to do. The only caveat to this one is that it’s important to recognise when moving might not make you feel better – if you’re absolutely knackered or ill, listen to your body and let it rest if that’s what it needs.
PUT IT IN THE DIARY
You wouldn’t ignore a work meeting or catch-up with a friend in your diary, so schedule your movement sessions and you’re less likely to ignore them too. Seriously, accountability is the easiest way to stick to a routine.
LET SOMEONE ELSE MOTIVATE YOU
If you know that being accountable only to yourself isn’t going to work, put your motivation in the hands of an expert. This could be a PT, a local class, a Park Run group or a virtual fitness plan you can do at home. It all comes back to having a routine you can work into your week, or following a programme that will lead to results – another surefire way to stay motivated.