How to Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym

Joining a gym is easy. Sometimes, too easy as the promises made by the gym salespeople turn into visions of a newly-svelte you minus all the hard work in between. Often, after signing on that dotted line and committing yourself to a contract for a set amount of time, there comes a sudden realization that you have made an actual commitment and that even if you don't honor it by turning up, your wallet will still be actively contributing. Rather than grimacing every time you catch sight of your gym membership card, own up to your commitment and stay motivated about turning up regularly and achieving what you originally dreamed you'd do.


  1. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 1
    Put on your gym clothes. The prospect of going to the gym and pushing yourself can be intimidating, so break it down into smaller steps. Make a commitment to put on your gym clothes and get to the gym, and if you don't feel like exercising, don't. Tell yourself that you can just go home as soon as you get there. But odds are, once you're there, it won't be too hard to convince yourself to do 15 minutes of exercise. Just 15 minutes. Once you're done with those 15 minutes, commit yourself to doing just another 10. Keep pushing yourself incrementally.
  2. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 2
    Create a new habit loop with rewards. People who choose simple cues and set up rewards are more likely to exercise regularly.[1] A good cue for going to the gym could be putting your keys under your gym clothes, so that you can't leave your house without handling them (and hopefully bringing them with you). A good reward would be to treat yourself to a latte or something similar, after you go to the gym. Eventually your brain will anticipate the reward and crave the process (going to the gym) that leads up to it. That being said, the reward shouldn't be so unhealthy that it cancels out your gym-going efforts!
  3. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 3
    Do a financial reality check. Consider the cost to you of not going to the gym. Each month not attended means that money is wasted without anything in return. And any equipment, private training sessions or clothing that you've already purchased is more cost without benefits gained by you. Tally up the total amount for a little shock effect––some of the costs you might have incurred already:
    • Shoes, equipment and clothing. If you didn't own the right workout apparel or shoes, you most likely purchased gear in order to make your visit to the gym more effective. Cross trainers or running shoes can run up to $200 a pair. Also, purchasing expensive boxing gloves or joint braces can add up quickly.
    • Personal training sessions. In some cases when you sign up for a gym membership, you may have fallen for adding in a few sessions with a personal trainer, especially if you were feeling motivated at the time. Have you made use of it? No? What are you waiting for then?!
    • Childcare or babysitting services. While some gyms offer free childcare, you may have already either paid for childcare services at your gym or shelled out dough for daycare. If so, this is a terrible opportunity to let go to waste, those hours free from the kids!
  4. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 4
    Try your clothes on. If the money you've already spent doesn't motivate you, perhaps trying to squeeze into your pair of jeans and still not managing it will. Get out all of those gorgeous clothes you wish you could fit into, plus the ones you're wearing but stretching unforgivably, and use this as a motivator to get yourself back into the gym. Take some photos of you trying to wear the tight clothes and stick them where you'll see them as visual reminders of what needs to happen.
    • Identify what size you really want to be. If you used to wear a much smaller size in high school but have swelled up since, don’t throw in the towel and just concede to your new size. The gym workout can help restore a figure you'd be proud of and can also bring back youthful energy. Of course, be realistic about the size you want to be––choose a size that is healthy and suitable for your gender, age and body type.
  5. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 5
    Buy some nice gym gear to bribe yourself with. If you haven't already done so, head out to a store that stocks workout clothing in funky styles. Purchase a few key pieces in bright colors or cool styles that you'll feel good wearing. Since the gym is the only place you can wear these goodies, you have a new reason to go.
  6. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 6
    Be realistic about how often you can make it to the gym. If you started out with the idea of turning up at 5am every weekday but found out that this was really difficult to maintain while juggling kids, work schedules and your night owl ways, then it's time to refresh the expectations rather than completely give it all up. Another thing to consider is where your gym is––people are more likely to exercise when the gym is located near their home or place of work. If this isn't the case for you, investigate having your membership transferred to a closer gym if it's part of a franchise.
    • Look at your life's schedule. Where does gym have a place in it? Do you really need to be there for all those TV shows? Couldn't someone else pick up Freddie on Fridays? Or perhaps your java programming and drinking club is now not doing for you what it once did and you could spend that hour at the gym instead? There is always a little time somewhere to spare; mark down the times you will attend the gym in your calendar or smartphone or digital diary or scheduler and don't ignore these set times without a very good reason involving an emergency or sickness. Keeping to set hours develops a habit that you won't let go of.
    • Make use of weird hours. If your gym is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, use those odd hours when traffic is at a standstill and you can get there in half normal time to fit in your workout. Added bonuses include ease of finding a parking space, peace and quiet and less distractions.
    • Don't sweat the misses. Everyone misses things now and then but if you've started using missing gym visits as a reason to never go back again, that's just a cop out. Accept that you missed a few sessions, then get right back on that gym horse.
    • If you've been sick, let yourself off. Nobody should be exercising when they're unwell, let alone spreading germs around.
  7. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 7
    Take a leaf from those who train for the Olympics. Most sportspeople maintain clear, realizable objectives that are reached in the short term rather than setting endless long term goals without interim stages. Aim to set yourself a minimum goal and then raise the bar when you've successfully met that goal for a period of time. Decrease your gym time so as to increase it. Perhaps five days a week was too ambitious––how about cutting it back to once a week and seeing how you manage that for now? At least you'll be turning up and once the weekly turn-up is well established, you can think about edging it up some.
  8. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 8
    Buddy up. Ask your friend to come along and help keep you motivated. Going to the gym with a friend is often a fun outing and it's twice the motivation to get there and to keep going. Perhaps schedule in a post-workout coffee and chat to increase the enjoyment of the visit.
    • Can't find an interested friend? Consider teaming up with someone from work. If you have a similar work schedule, you could resolve to head to the gym immediately following work or during your lunch hour, if convenient. Or, make a friend at the gym and agree to turn up at the same time together.
    • Ask your spouse, partner or lover along. You could even create some friendly competition by seeing who can drop the weight or build muscle faster.
    • Invite the entire family. Make a pact to meet at the gym every evening (or five nights a week) for an hour workout. Take this notion one step further by creating a tracking chart that you can hang in the kitchen that tracks exercise or weight loss for further motivation. Don't get excited about family membership just yet though––see how things progress before forking out yet more money.
  9. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 9
    Switch up your workout. Perhaps you're going to the gym regularly but it has become ho-hum, a dull routine. By trying something new at the gym and getting off the usual equipment, you might be able to resurrect your motivation to keep going. A body that is used to a set level of exercise or routine needs new challenges and so does your mind. Keep your body guessing and you’ll continue to improve your level of fitness and end up having more fun.
    • Try a class. You’ve paid for more than equipment, so browse the different classes and give one a whirl. Most likely your gym offers a bevy of fun classes including cross training cardio and weights, kickboxing, Zumba and more.
    • Mix cardio and weights. If you’re a treadmill rat and simply like to get on, push a button and check out for 45 minutes, consider mixing up your routine by only jogging for 15 minutes and then checking out the free weights.
    • Sign up for extra boot camp sessions. Some trainers host breakout boot camp sessions that not only give you that extra fitness edge, attending one of these courses allows you to try something new and fun (like running through an obstacle course or punching a bag).
  10. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 10
    Stop blaming the gym and its "sales tactics". Sometimes it's easy to let resentment stop you from meeting a commitment to yourself––it's silly but it does happen at times. It doesn't matter if you think it's the fault of the gym for overselling the virtues––maybe they did, maybe they didn't, but deep down somewhere you wanted to get fit and this seemed like a good way to do it. By placing the blame back on the gym, you're ignoring the responsibility to take care of your own body. The gym's a business and really doesn't care whether or not you turn up; on other hand, your business is you, and you should care about turning up when it is about self-improvement.
  11. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 11
    Have recourse to visualization. Use mental imagery to motivate yourself. In your mind's eye, see yourself at the gym working out and enjoying it. See yourself achieving certain challenges that you'd like to overcome at the gym. Finally, close your eyes and see the figure you'd like to sculpt with all of your gym efforts, complete with yourself in an outfit you're longing to wear.
  12. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 12
    Listen to music. Make gym visits an occasion for wearing your MP3 player or iPod and listening to your favorite tunes, including new ones you'd like to hear more of. Music is a fantastic motivator and it's even more enjoyable when you can move to the beat at the same time. Many athletes train to their favorite music as it has a positive effect on the limbic system of the brain, causing your emotions to respond favorably to the exercise. And if you're not too keen on music, try the sounds of nature or simple instrumentals.
  13. Image titled Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym Step 13
    Work on the rest of your overall health beyond the gym. It's demotivating to bust your gut at the gym without seeing results. And it may be that your diet is letting you down or you're failing to get enough sleep every night. Good health and fitness are the result of paying attention to all needs physical and mental, so it's important that you're not neglecting other aspects
    • Eat healthily. If the gym provides nutritional services, make use of them. Cut down on the junk food and any excesses that you know are depriving you of healthy nutrients.
    • Sleep adequately. No amount of gym work will make up for sleep deprivation and the ravages it wreaks on your body over time.
    • Minimize alcohol intake and cut out the cigarettes. Neither recreational drug adds to your overall health.


  • Don’t allow the scale to dictate your mood. If you're lifting weights, you could be building muscle, which weighs more than fat. Instead, use your clothing as a metric-are your pants fitting looser or better yet, have you gone down a size? And more importantly, how are your energy levels? Improvements in energy are always a good sign.
  • Don't stick with one exercise. Try mixing it up a bit. If the elliptically are all being used, try re-visiting that good old treadmill and throw is some stationary bike time as well. Keeping you body guessing is a great way to, believe it or not, INCREASE the amount of calories an fat burned in a regular exercise routine. You also help stimulate your mind from the boredom of being on the same old machine constantly.
  • Always follow gym rules about wiping down equipment and being courteous to other patrons. If you're curious about gym etiquette, see further How to have good gym etiquette.
  • Gyms can provide great social opportunities. Use gym time as a way to meet new people, especially if you are taking a class.


  • If you have a fever, are throwing up, or have diarrhea, skip the gym. It's a miss for a very good reason––keeping yourself and others healthy.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Motivation to Exercise | Gym