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As I sit down to write this, I'm thinking about how I can take some of my own advice in terms of finding motivation to go to the gym and making the most of a workout.  In my defense (although I am still guilty as charged), I have recently made a significant life transition which includes moving further across the country away from my friends and family, taking a new job as an elementary school teacher (when I previously taught high school), and moving in with my boyfriend.  Needless to say, I haven’t had the chance to fit in a workout, and it’s a shame, because I know it would alleviate much of the stress I have been feeling in the wake of these life changes.


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Even when the idea of working out for an hour seems daunting, I know the end result is worth it and contributes tremendously to my happiness, wellbeing, and state of mind.  If you are in the midst of a big life transition like me and are having difficulty fitting in a workout or finding the motivation amongst the stress to do so, then I recommend the following tips.  Even if you’re not experiencing major life changes and are just feeling challenged by the idea of a regular, rigorous, and healthy workout, I hope these tips are helpful and provide what you need to hear in order to motivate you to go out and grab those weights!

Keep the end result in mind and attach a feeling to it.

Before moving to Utah, I lived in Arkansas and was lucky enough to have access to a fabulous, welcoming, and motivating gym.  Not only were the instructors incredibly warm, kind, and well-trained, but they also always motivated us by reminding us of our desired end result.  This end result can differ depending on who you are and what you want out of your workout, but many of us were there for the same reasons — to both feel better about ourselves and our bodies, and to feel physically and mentally accomplished.  Once you have decided what you want the end of your workout to look like and result in, attach a feeling to it.  I always looked forward to feelings of accomplishment, positivity, and exhaustion that came at the end of every workout I did.  By personalizing how my workout felt, I owned that hour in the gym.  Think about how you want to feel at the end of your workout.  What can you do during your workout to accomplish that ultimate feeling?  Once you’ve identified that, you are one step closer to motivating yourself to go to the gym regularly.

Embrace a multitude of workouts and don’t be afraid to mix things up.

I know this advice is a little easier if you attend a gym that offers a diversity of classes, but even if you structure your own workouts, think about how you can change up your routine and incorporate new equipment, exercises, and focus areas regularly.  When I attended college and worked out in our small fitness center, it was hard for me to motivate myself when I knew I was going to do the same thing over and over — the elliptical for 30 minutes, treadmill for 25, and end with an arm routine for 10.  I got so accustomed to this routine that the gym became boring to me, not rewarding.  At my gym in Arkansas, I looked forward to different days of the week that offered different classes, and I found myself feeling re-motivated and re-energized with each new class.  Working out doesn’t have to be boring, so go ahead and change things up!

Playlists, playlists, playlists.

I often feel extra motivated to work out when I know I’ve recently downloaded an addicting new song or the playlist at the class I’m attending has a certain musical theme (my old gym used to do themed spin classes, like Justin Timberlake versus Justin Bieber or 90s pop).  Bringing music into your workout is motivating in itself.  I often found myself spinning to the beat of whatever song was playing and feeling empowered by the badass female artists singing about self-love, being your own woman, and finding your independence (shout-out to Beyonce, Iggy Azalea, Rihanna, Sia, and Adele — yes, Adele can be a great ‘cooldown’ partner).  Another little motivational trick I use is to motivate myself to finish a set or spin as fast as I could in increments to certain durations of a song.  An example would be (in addition to a little positive self-talk), ‘Dylan, you’re going to spin as fast as you can until the chorus of Partition is over.’  This way, you have a little something to hold you accountable throughout the song and the workout.


Remember, your workout is for you — it’s your time, no one else’s.


Set goals.

This may seem like an obvious motivational tip, but I swear by it.  Whether it’s a calorie count you want to reach, an increase in how many push-ups or crunches you can do, or sustaining a workout for longer than usual, try motivating yourself through goal-setting.  This will also help you feel more accomplished at the end of a workout, and you will then start associating more positive and rewarding feelings with exercising.  Win, win!  Your goals can be daily, weekly, or even monthly.  My old gym used to host monthly or seasonal challenges, which helped members set and meet goals together.  Some examples of goals I would set for myself would be not taking any breaks during a class, doing each routine and set to the best of my ability despite my exhaustion, pushing my flexibility a little more every day, and using heavier weights during barre class.  I’m a very goal-oriented person, but even if you’re not, start small and then work your way up to a goal that’s more challenging and ultimately, rewarding.

After writing all of that, I'm now ready to hop outside into the desert heat of Utah for a run…well, maybe not just yet.  I think I’ll stick to an air conditioned fitness center for now.  Remember, your workout is for you — it’s your time, no one else’s.  So make sure you are making the most out of it: feeling accomplished when it’s over, and bettering your well-being along the way.  Stay positive, stay fit, and stay MOTIVATED!


Dylan Manderlink is a 20-something first grade teacher in southeastern Utah who is passionate about social justice, the arts, education, environmental preservation, and feminism. She is a graduate of Emerson College and studied a self-designed major, Investigative Theatre for Social Change. Following graduation, she moved to rural Arkansas to teach high school through the national public service program, Teach for America.


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