How To Motivate Yourself For The Gym

Need some tips on how to get your motivation for the gym back? We've put together 5 tips to make sure you are not only ready physically, but with the right mindset as well.

Motivation follows action

I hate to break it to you, there is no secret to motivation. Motivation comes by taking action. All the people that inspire you are doing things even when they don’t feel like it. That means the first step to getting your motivation back is to take action. The problem might be in your mindset, because you are waiting around for the motivation to come, so learn that action comes first. We have to do things even when we don’t feel like it. Do we all feel like getting up at 4:45 am to get in the word before we go train before we go to work? No, but we do it anyway, and it’s worth it in the end.

However, I will say that we all have different personality types, some of us are externally motivated and others are internally motivated. If you are someone who is internally motivated, it’s probably easy for you to take and keep taking action. If you are someone who lacks intrinsic motivation and needs external accountability, maybe you need to hire a trainer, a coach, or enlist the help of a gym buddy to hold you accountable for getting in a certain non-negotiable number of workouts each week.

Do what you can, even if it isn’t “right” “ideal” or “perfect” 

I have two stories for you here. The first one is from during COVID. My roommate and I both workout daily, so during quarantine we both needed to use the living room to work out and work which means coordinating the use. On one particular day, I taught an online class for work, and she wanted to work out, and then she needed the living room for work. In my head, I was frustrated because I didn’t get to get in the ideal morning workout due to my work schedule and her schedule. I was annoyed. I was frustrated about living room workouts, and about balcony workouts, however, I decided that I was going to solve the problem and do what I could, which meant an evening workout.

Get comfortable with the grey area, with getting in a workout even if it isn’t perfect. If you don’t have weights at home, squats, lunges, pushups, sit-ups, and running are a perfect alternative. If your indoor gym isn’t open, but they have outdoor stuff, do that. Maybe you aren’t usually a class person but right now they are offering outdoor classes, it's better to try some classes than to completely pause and stop your fitness. Something is better than nothing. Always something over nothing. 


Change your mindset. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. In some states, like California, gyms opened back up mid-June, only for indoor operations to be shut down two weeks later. However, many gyms if they could quickly shift to offering classes and training outside. I had just started going to a new gym and was like how are they going to make this work? They began to hold classes outside. Their class schedule changed a little, and also my work schedule changed. The traditional CrossFit classes I wanted to take at the location I wanted didn’t work with my schedule so I was bummed. I shifted gears and began going to the other location at an earlier time to be able to take the CrossFit class I wanted to take, and then that got changed! Yes, I was bummed, but you know what. I am grateful that they are doing what they can to serve us and keep us moving. I am grateful that I still get to train in some way and I am making the most out of it. It beats the living room and balcony workouts. Gratitude > griping. 

Use the dial method 

I learned the dial method from my precision nutrition coaching certification. I love it because it helps us break free from the all or nothing mentality. Only got in one workout this week? Only ate a few good meals this week? What do you do about that? The way the dial method works is thinking about training, nutrition, whatever health domain you wish as if it had a volume knob. You can turn the knob up or down, it doesn’t have to be on a 10 all the time, sometimes you will need to turn it to a 3 because for a season you have competing commitments. Even in terms of our walk with the Lord, maybe our training gets turned down a little because we need to turn the dial-up and spend more time getting in the word, meeting with a mentor, surrounding ourselves with strong believers in the faith community. 

Done is better than perfect

I will start working out again once…” “I will start eating better when” If you wait until things are perfect you will never get anything done. Perfection never happens in real life. In the context of real human life getting in shape or maintaining fitness doesn’t happen by perfectly following a 0 1- 100 program when things are perfect. There is a mentality that we can only get in shape by following a very challenging program when the conditions are perfect. However, life is never perfect, conditions are never perfect. The difficult thing is actually to change that mindset and perspective and consistently follow a good enough program when the conditions aren’t perfect, in fact very challenging. What is more difficult for you? Recommitting to working out for one hour 6 days a week or learning to adjust your workout dial-up and down… Starting another new diet on Monday or learning to nudge your nutrition and eating habits into a little better over time?

Chances are the “good enough” is more difficult for us because we believe that things need to be perfect to make progress. Truly, the decent method you follow consistently is better than the perfect one you keep quitting and restarting. It’s about participation, not perfection, about what you can do every day for the rest of life. A new motto for me lately is done better than perfect. Even with writing this blog, my grammar may have mistakes and there may be spelling errors but done is better than perfect. The same applies to workouts, can’t get in an hour? Running a mile depending on your fitness level can take between 5-15 minutes. You don’t need an hour! How about nutrition, just because you can’t eat perfect every meal of every day doesn’t mean that just having one healthy meal a day doesn't make a difference, it does! 

Happy health-ing, and I hope these tips help you get your motivation back!



Charissa is a Performance Coach, Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Fitness Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and holds a B.S. in Kinesiology. She also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration. She is a follower of Jesus, passionate about faith, fitness, nutrition, a lifestyle of total health, meditating, learning and growing!

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