Home Inspiration Why You Don’t Go to the Gym as Much as You Should

Why You Don’t Go to the Gym as Much as You Should


Why You Don’t Go to the Gym as Much as You Should

In a survey I conducted for a newsletter, I asked potential and current personal training clients why they wished to hire a personal trainer. Far and away the top response was “lack of motivation.” In fact, that and “no time” are the top answers in most government surveys on physical activity as well.

But in 2011, three researchers in motivation science decided to dig deeper into what motivational factors led people to work out. It turns out that motivation level was not a predicting factor. The biggest predictor? How convenient people perceived where they worked out to be in relation to their daily routines.

Convenience is king. It trumps motivation. It trumps perceived value. It trumps guilt and shame (everything trumps guilt and shame over time). When it comes to long-term adherence, convenience trumps everything.

So if you are not feeling motivated to get to the gym, it’s time to look at ways to make things easier on yourself. Because signing up for a big, pretty, expensive gym clear across town is like starting a marathon dragging a sled.

If you are just starting out, start at home. Set an alarm so you wake up five minutes earlier, and just do five minutes of anything: squat, plank, hip bridge and carry something heavy (like a bag full of books) around your bedroom for five minutes. If you think that’s not enough, it was enough for some of my clients to lose significant amounts of weight before they moved on to other routines.

What matters is just getting started, which means setting that alarm (and actually getting out of bed).

If you have stalled out, ask yourself what was the most fun you ever had working out. Was it cardio? Was it camaraderie? Was it people watching? Now see if you can recreate that closer to home. Go to a park by your house and go for a brisk walk. Invite a friend or 10.

Put exercise equipment in your trunk. Face it, we spend a lot of time getting in and out of our cars. For a few months in graduate school, I kept 2 kettlebells in my car. Every time I got to campus, I got them out and just carried them as far as I could, then carried them back. It was more than enough to maintain my level of fitness, and when I got more time, I would do a little routine with all my favorite movements in them.

Invite people over to your house. Believe it or not, I don’t like working out all the time, either. I go through phases of motivation, too. And the best way I know to keep me going when I just don’t care is to invite anyone who wants to join me over to my house to work out at 9 a.m. every morning (except Sunday). I have the equipment, they bring the motivation! The most convenient workout club in the world is the one that knocks on your front door.

Ditch the hour; start thinking in minutes. Most people think they have to work out for at least an hour to be effective, but that’s just not true. Most of my clients have seen their biggest results from workouts that lasted less than an hour. Per week. That’s right, it’s not only possible, but in many cases it’s also more likely that you’ll see results working out in shorter bursts of dedicated training because you’re more likely to do it!

Here’s a whole routine that you can do in less than 10 minutes in whatever clothes you’re currently wearing, courtesy of Coach Stevo (via Dan John):

  1. Stand up.
  2. Lie on your stomach.
  3. Get back up.
  4. Lie on your back.
  5. Get back up.
  6. Lie on your left side.
  7. Get back up.
  8. Lie on your right side.
  9. Get back up.
  10. Rest.
  11. Repeat five more times.

The point is not whether this workout is “perfect” (hint: there’s no such thing), it just matters that you do it. So set that alarm and give it a shot!


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