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Finding The Motivation to Work Out

I wrote this blog in response to a question I received from one of my webcam training clients. Why don’t you have the motivation to work out? What is contributing to this lack of motivation? What is the real source? What can we do about it? Read on for more.

Earlier this week I was asked this question by one of my webcam training clients:

“This isn’t really related to yoga, but what do you do when you lack the motivation to work out?”

I’ve had two webcam training sessions in the last couple of weeks where we went beyond techniques and workouts and got into finding the motivation to work out instead.

My answer comes from my own personal study of philosophy and self-development.

Yeah, we can talk about ways to trick your body into starting a workout if you don’t have the energy. But what we really need to do is figure out why you don’t have the energy to work out in the first place. If you’re an active, in-shape guy, then the answer probably doesn’t have to do with your fitness. (Note: Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself an in-shape guy, the answer most likely doesn’t have to do with your fitness.)

Family drama, unpleasant work situations, and unfulfilled expectations are all examples of things that bring us down, and as they apply to fitness, make us think to ourselves, “I don’t want to work out today.”

So what do you do? How can you give yourself the motivation you need to work out?

One way is to consider what will happen if you don’t do your workout. What deep-set, internal fears motivate you to exercise?

I don’t want my body to have aches and pains during. -> I fear pain.
I don’t want to get injured. -> I fear pain.
I don’t want to experience the guilt I get from not working out. -> I would feel like a failure if I didn’t workout. -> I don’t want to fail.
I don’t want to backtrack on the efforts I’ve made to improve my health. -> I could become less healthy and get hurt. -> I fear pain.
The list goes on, and these are just some examples. It could be helpful for you to write these out and figure out what you fear by not working out.

After that, think of your why. This is the most important source of motivation. Fear of what will happen if you don’t do x is a good motivator, but a stronger motivator than that is your reason for working out in the first place. So ask yourself: Why do I work out?

I want to feel more confident. -> So I can be more successful. -> To feel fulfilled.
I want to feel physically energized. -> To do what I want to do. -> To experience all of the greatness that life has to offer.
I want to be as healthy as I can. -> To be physically capable, to endure hard times, to be strong for the people I can care about. -> I want to feel powerful.
I want to have a better body. -> I want to feel good about myself.
Too many of us move through life without a clear purpose. More often than not, we spend our time dreading what we do to make ends meet (which happens to take up the majority of our time), and look forward to time spent outside of work. We avoid our job by partying and numbing the reality. We avoid our own life by becoming immersed in others’, such as when we watch a TV show or cheer for a sports team.

I’m not bashing you because you don’t like your job, or you want a better life.

I’m pointing out that this indifference to purpose in what you do for the majority of your waking hours conditions you to ignore purpose in the rest of your life.

(Maybe you don’t even know what your purpose is, but that’s a topic for another time.)

The result is that we don’t really know what the purpose of our workouts are either. We’re so accustomed to doing things without fulfilling our internal sense of purpose that we don’t even know how to realize fulfillment when we participate in activities in which we involve ourselves by choice.

Getting back to your lack of motivation in your workout – what are you doing it for? Figure this out, and you’ll have more success.


(Need more help? Click here to read my 8 Steps for Setting & Achieving Fitness Goals.)

Want more blogs like this? This blog is part of my “Off the Mat” series, a weekly email in which I discuss topics other than health and fitness, which can include business development, insight into my own my personal philosophies, or any other content I think you’ll find helpful. Click here to sign up and have these emails delivered to your inbox, every Friday.

6 thoughts on “Finding The Motivation to Work Out”

  1. Brian Duchinsky

    Dean, a really nice, helpful, relevant piece! For me, it’s fairly simple … On days where I lack motivation, I just take my shirt off, look in a mirror for a couple moments, and then say “Just suck it UP, Buttercup!”

  2. Daniel Gutierrez

    Today I told my sister I was having a difficult time finding my desires for working out. She said, “it’s hard, its not easy”. I have been struggling for the last year in finding a fitness path, one with less physical impact than a gym or a kickboxing class. Thinking of going or not going to the gym gives me anxiety. I’ll start making my list and then join manflowyoga. 🙂

    1. Daniel – it sounds like your anxiety comes from your indecision. Don’t even make it an option. Just make it something you do!

  3. Dean, love the yoga you teach, I have been enjoying the classes. Part of my motivation is to see my muscles working in the mirror, and also seeing what muscles you are also activating, so really appreciate the few classes you have posted that are shirtless. Thanks.

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