A recent review of studies found that people have a hard time sticking with a fitness routine because they’re afraid of it—whether it’s tricky exercises, complicated gym equipment, or daunting distances. In truth, there’s nothing to fear. But we’re all human. Here’s how to banish imagined fitness monsters, so you can find workouts you love, and make your routine stick.
Find Your Fun
Life is short—too short to waste doing anything you don’t love or at least like. Fitness isn’t always easy, but there should be some qualities about your workout you find redeeming. Maybe you love how you feel after a good sweat session. Maybe you love playing tennis, and swimming. Whatever it is that lights even the smallest of sparks within you—do it! It will be easier to stick with something you love.
Shift Your Perspective
Even pro athletes can get a case of the nerves. Sometimes it helps to shift your perspective. According to champion runner and Fitbit ambassador Sara Hall, grounding yourself in your identity can help calm even earthquake-sized jitters. That means remembering you are not your workouts. You are you!
Hall also suggests remembering the joy in and around the activity you’ve chosen. Most people feel good after a workout. Remembering why you came—as well as the joy you feel post-workout (or even, hopefully, during your workout or activity) can help you push through even the toughest of sweat sessions.
Ask for Help
Like stopping for driving directions during those pre-GPS days, there’s nothing shameful about asking for a little help. Many gyms offer at least one free personal training session or consultation, creating a perfect opportunity to ask a trainer how to do some basic exercises, or show you how to use key machines.
Try a Class
Fitness classes are an excellent way to learn new moves and stay motivated. Everyone involved is in the same boat, charting the fitness waters. Research shows that creating a social network around fitness, or at least buddying up, can help keep you feeling motivated.
If you’re nervous about your technique, find a spot somewhere in the middle of the room. You won’t have first-row pressure, but you’ll still be visible to the teacher, who can provide you with form tips.
Exercise at Home
For those who really like the quiet and solace of being home alone, it’s easy to get a complete, total-body workout in your own space. You can perform bodyweight moves like push-ups, planks, squats, and lunges, and even add resistance by using a band or filling some water bottles.
There’s also FitStar, which offers do-anywhere dynamic video workouts and yoga sessions you can choose from. You can also head outside for a walk or run, and rack up some steps.
Wear a Fitbit Tracker
Research has shown that wearing a tracker can potentially bump up your exercise time. Keeping an eye on your workouts over time allows you to see your progress, which can be incredibly motivating, spurring you on to do more. Trackers also make it easy to see your day-to-day activity, and help keep you accountable toward reaching your goals. For example, do you have a 5,000-step daily goal, and it’s 8 PM with 400 steps to go? Spend 15 minutes tidying up your house and poof: goal met.
Multiple studies show that distracting yourself during exercise can help you feel better during and after your workouts. (That means, it can be easier for you to exercise longer, or harder, to get more results.)
Create playlists that pump you up, or head outside to take in nature. Research has shown that getting out into greenery can help reduce feelings of anxiety. It’s also a great place to get your steps in.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.