Ready to get started on a new at-home exercise routine but not sure where to start—or even where the motivation will come from? I hear that from a lot of clients, and I get it. Exercise at home is not always the ideal situation. For many people, it’s easy to get distracted and it’s harder to get pumped enough to push through a good workout.
But whether or not you’re a gym goer who’s making a switch or are just beginning a routine, these three key steps make it possible to find both the time and the drive to exercise.
1. Create a clear reason why you exercise
We all view and approach fitness with different intentions and perspectives. Some common thoughts I hear are:
- It’s part of my “to-do” list
- I feel like I should or am supposed to exercise
- To lose weight, I need to do it
- Everyone says it’s good for me
- I would do it, but I don’t know where to start
- Love it and I want to keep going
- Exercise helps me cope and is essential to my life
No single perspective is wrong, but the point is: changing your reason for exercising can be helpful. When you make your reason compelling and personal, you become internally motivated to get moving and more likely to keep going.
Questions to help you re-evaluate your intention for exercising
Exploring what you hope to gain from exercising starts with understanding what will help you build a habit. It sounds counterintuitive, but this means breaking out what’s best for you on a daily basis. I always ask my clients to put some thought into these 3 questions:
- What emotion(s) do you want to feel when you’re done with your workout session?
- What outcome do you want immediately following a bout of exercise?
- How do you want to feel 3 months from now?
Why asking these questions daily helps you stay motivated
One of the top reasons people get low on home-workout motivation and ditch an exercise plan is that they’re too caught up in what they think they should do more than how they want to feel. These questions help you be successful because they put you in touch with what your body needs on any given day and lets you match that feeling with an activity or movement that fuels you to fulfill that need. For example, maybe you need to burn off some steam, so a tough workout is in order. Or, maybe you’re spent and yoga fits the bill. But the point is: when you feel like you’re getting what you need, you’re more likely to stay motivated and keep it up.
And, remember, some seasons of life will be different. Exercise will not always look the same, and that’s okay, too.
2. Start where you are (and be okay with it)
What does this mean? It means avoid comparing yourself to where you think someone else is or even where you used to be. Starting out too fast or too hard only leads to injury and burn out. Focus on progress, growth, and what’s right for you.
Starting where you are means first honoring the season you’re in. Recognize you are in the right place, right now. Focus on doing what is realistic for you. Can you break away for an hour or do you have 30 minutes? Then that’s what you can give. Do you have equipment or do you need to find body-weight exercises? Either is fine. What skills or things do you need to learn to be successful? Let’s build those in.
3. Take the pressure off
The last step for finding time and home-workout motivation? Make it easier. No, I don’t mean make the exercise easier. Let your approach to exercise be easier. We call this lowering the activation energy. Lower the energy required to get started.
How can you make exercise easier to fit in your life?
- Pick a time during your day and stick to it. Treat it like a doctor’s appointment.
- Put your exercise clothes and shoes in one place to grab and go each day.
- Have a basic exercise plan to follow, so you’re not trying to figure out what to do in the moment.
- Pair exercise with something you already love to do, such as listen to a podcast, watch a show, or be outside in nature.
- Do a virtual exercise session with a friend. Find accountability!
Set up an at-home workout plan— but let it be flexible
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that, for optimal health, people get a combination of cardiovascular and strength training exercises on most days of the week. Two great steps to take to set up your home workout plan are:
- Find an exercise you enjoy doing that raises your heart rate (walking, running, hiking, Zumba, dancing, aerobics, etcetera). Whenever you feel like you’re up for an energetic workout, make one of these your pick for the day.
- Do a body weight exercise (or use weights, if you have them) exercise for each major muscle group in your body. Think legs, glutes, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and core.
Even if working out alone or at home isn’t your favorite way to do it, free (and paid) exercise ideas, programs, and subscriptions make it easier, effective, and fun. A few of my trusted favorites include: The Balanced Life with Robin Long Pilates, Momstrong Move, and the Ace Fitness workout library.
More help with home workout motivation & exercise, food, and body image
A good relationship with exercise begins with setting intentions and having a good reason for it being a part of your life. Then, set clear plans and boundaries around your exercise time while still allowing for some flexibility based on how you’re feeling and where you are in life right now. This is especially important for at-home workout motivation, where there are distractions.
Many of my clients come to me feeling overwhelmed about their bodies, exercise, and food. My goal at A Woman of Wellness is to implement these steps and then work together in-depth to help improve and heal their relationships with all three, so they can live well, feel strong and confident, and look forward to each day.