So you made a resolution to get to the gym more this year: whether it’s for spin class or for strength training or yoga, it can admittedly be hard to get out the door when the days are short, the temperatures are low, and the motivation is even lower. Trick yourself into getting fit with a few of our favorite psychological and physical hacks.
Find Down Times
Both at the gym and in your life. If you hate the New Year’s Resolution post-work crowd, set the alarm early and do the gym before work so you’re not tempted to bail the second there’s a giant line for the rowing machine. If time is always an issue, look for holes in your schedule: Are you waiting out in the car while the kids are at karate? See if there’s a gym near their studio. If you tend to stay at your desk, wasting your lunch hour, locate a gym close to the office. Small pockets of time are all you need to get in a good workout.
Be Ready to Grab and Go
Have a bag that lives in your car with the essentials: shorts, tank top, sports bra, shoes, socks, a towel, and some toiletries like dry shampoo, deodorant and quick-wipes for the workouts that you sneak in between meetings and school pickup. Never let this bag run empty—in fact, try to have two or even three bags (use old running shoes, or buy super cheap ones if needed) so that you can rotate them in and out of the house to avoid dirty laundry piling up, or a bag that’s empty except for toiletries.
Make the Gym Easy-Access
Set a route to and from work that passes the gym. Don’t have a way to make that happen? Drop your current membership and find a gym that’s along your daily commute, whether that means when you’re doing school drop-off or heading to a staff meeting. Convenience is everything when it comes to creating a new habit.
Force Yourself Into It
Create an environment that demands you get there. Drop your gear off in the gym locker on the way to work, or take it one step further and leave something you need in there as well, like your credit card, your car keys, if the gym is near your workplace, or your house keys so you can’t go home without stopping there again.
Just Go for Five Minutes
Lie to yourself. Promise to go just go for five minutes: one single set of planks or one set of leg presses. Chances are, once you’ve gotten to the gym and gotten into the workout groove, you’ll start to feel more excited about lifting. It’s like riding the trainer, or going on a ride in bad weather: the first couple minutes are always the worst.
Meet a Friend
Combine gym time with social time by meeting a friend for spin class or yoga and grabbing coffee afterwards. If your friend time means a workout, you’re arguably saving time (and likely calories, by skipping brunch in favor of a sweat session!).
Invest in a Trainer
If you’re, as behavioral expert Gretchen Rubin describes, an “Obliger,” you only stick to plans and goals that are motivated by other people. So by purchasing a package of classes or trainer sessions, you’re now holding yourself accountable to someone else, and you don’t want to let him or her down. Plus, when you prepay, you have money on the line. As an added incentive, working with a trainer can mean creating workouts and learning movements that are more targeted to your goals, so you might see progress faster than you would by going it alone.
Set Up a Bonus Plan
Design an “official” bonus system for yourself that rewards incremental and longterm success. So, for example, if you meet your three-times-a-week plan for the first week, maybe the reward is a new set of spin shoes. The next week, a massage. Set up your reward system ahead of time versus just keeping it ‘loose,’ so if you miss a class, you’re back to square one and that cool new jersey will have to wait.
After you have a great session and you’re checking yourself out in the mirror (you know you do this), snap a selfie and save it so you can look back and remind yourself that sometimes the idea of getting to the gym sucks, but the results are always worth it.