Here’s what many people think when setting up a home gym; “because I have a gym right here, I’ll work out more”.
And it works, for some time. As with everything else, your mind quickly gets bored with monotony. Even if all you have to do is walk across the hall to start your workout, the convenience and proximity alone are not enough to keep you motivated.
And so you start missing a few sessions to sleep in, watch TV or browse online. Soon, the only thing touching your dumbbells and treadmill is a thick coat of dust and a tapestry of cobwebs.
Here are a few tips to help you stay motivated to workout in your home gym.
1. Have a variety of equipment
One of the biggest motivation killers is doing the same workout every day. Soon you’ll be thinking, “if I see that treadmill again, I’m going to throw up.”
Try to mix things up by having a variety of workout equipment. Get help choosing the best treadmill for your needs. You can have the treadmill for running, a punching bag to tone your arms while still burning fat, an elliptical for some power walking, dumbbells for strength training, a mat for yoga, a medicine ball for core workouts and so on.
Exercising is often punishing to your body, especially when you are starting out. Your muscles will ache, your lungs will burn and your whole body will resist the stress. The last thing you want to do is interact with the same punishing machine day after day. You’ll begin to avoid it.
Having different equipment keeps things fresh and exciting. You can try out different challenges every day without burning out.
2. Get equipment that you will enjoy using
Most of us buy workout equipment simply for their functional benefits. But just like some people hate running but love swimming, you will not enjoy all machines equally.
Maybe you hate a treadmill but could pump for hours on a stationary bike. Perhaps you enjoy building your pecs on a rowing machine or pull up bar rather than free weights.
While you can incorporate one or two things that you don’t really enjoy but are important, make sure that the bulk of equipment is stuff you enjoy using. Your sessions will not feel so punishing anymore.
3. Track your progress
There is nothing that triggers so much self-pride as seeing your own progress. Knowing you set a goal and worked hard to achieve it is a huge motivator.
Tracking your fitness progress will not only help you plan your future fitness goals, it will also motivate you to keep going.
There are many ways to keep track of various fitness metrics such as runtime, endurance and weight.
One that immediately comes to mind is fitness trackers. You can buy a dedicated fitness tracker such as the Misfit Ray or a full-fledged Smartwatch such as the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear Fit.
You can also use an app, though you may not get the same accuracy as with a physical tracker. You will also miss out on features like heart rate monitors.
You can also go super basic and track your goals diary-style on paper. Track changes in weight, number of reps, distance covered, time taken and other metrics.
4. Follow a training program
Sometimes, having someone tell you what to do helps you stay the course. A training program gives you a blueprint, a strategy that you can follow to achieve your goals. It can also help you get fit faster and without hurting yourself or burning out.
There are plenty of fitness straining programs, both free and paid, you can follow. The best one for you will depend on your needs. Maybe you are a beginner who just wants to lose weight and grow muscle, maybe you have been in the game for much longer and are looking for advanced techniques and strategies or maybe you want to achieve athletic level fitness.
Some of the most popular training program and systems include p90X, Insanity and Beach Body.
5. Get a partner
Hearing the sounds of your own sweaty grunts everyday can get pretty lonely. A workout partner can help you look forward more to your daily sessions. In addition to the motivating camaraderie, you’ll also hold each other to account, ensuring no one slacks off. Your partner can be your spouse, your older kid or neighbor.
6. Join a fitness community
If it’s impossible to find a workout partner, find a good fitness community online. Fitness communities provide a platform where members encourage each other and provide helpful tips.
Some communities also allow members to share their metrics so that the entire community can track your progress.
Members in a forum may not be next to you shouting you to your rep goal or pat you on the back when you achieve it, but it is amazing how encouraging and motivating a virtual workout squad can be.
7. Reward yourself
Yes, getting healthy and fit are great rewards for your hard work. But your mind doesn’t see it that way. Research has revealed that the brain responds well to immediate rewards. It releases a rush of endorphins that make you feel real good and motivates you to repeat that action again.
After a hard workout, reward yourself with a tasty (but healthy) snack, an episode of Game of Thrones or half an hour of a video game. You can also give yourself rewards for longer term goals such as a beach vacation or a shopping spree if you drop your weight by the target amount.
8. Have a schedule
Part of maintaining workout motivation is discipline. Planning to do something at a certain time can be a big help in actually doing it.
Include your workouts in your daily schedule or to-do list. It’s harder to sleep in when your phone alerts you that it’s time to hit the gym.
9. Go slow
Finally, don’t push yourself too hard. Often, fitness is portrayed like military school. You are told that pushing yourself to the limits and then some is the only way to get fit. Unfortunately, that’s the quickest way to experience a burnout.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to push yourself, but be gradual about it. Set smaller goals that you can achieve without breaking every bone in your body. As you clear them, you will be motivated to keep going and achieve even bigger goals.