Need motivation to keep exercising? 25 tips from trainers

Story highlights

  • Even fitness trainers need some encouragement to exercise once in a while
  • Rewarding yourself and working out with others can be motivating

If it were easy to stay motivated to work out, then we'd all have rock-hard abs. Alas, the drive to get out of bed for an early morning sweat session is elusive, except for those infectiously positive and perky fitness trainers and instructors—or so you thought. Even they need some encouragement once in a while. We asked four inspiring exercise experts to share what motivates them both in and out of the gym and studio. Their advice could be the extra nudge you need.

Take a new class

    Your favorite instructors are great teachers, but they're still students, too. "Just like my clients, I oftentimes need to be told what to do when it comes to my exercise routine," says Annie Mulgrew, program director at CityRow in New York City. "I'll take a class at my studio or another studio with an instructor friend," she says. "I always feel better afterward!"
    Mulgrew says group fitness is more than just a workout, but an opportunity to see what other instructors are doing and get new ideas. "We're still consumers of group fitness."

    Treat yourself every day

    To stay on track with a healthy, balanced diet, Mulgrew says she gives in to temptation one time every day. "If I allow myself a treat, I'm way less likely to overindulge or binge," she says. "One glass of wine is perfect, but a whole bottle? Derailing."
    This smart eating strategy is the reason many authorities say trendy or restrictive diets simply don't work. You end up craving the self-banned food even more, increasing your odds of binge eating or falling off the wagon completely.

    Pump up the jams

    Music can be an incredibly powerful mood booster. In fact, research has shown that listening to happy or sad music can actually directly alter the way you perceive the world—powerful stuff!
    Los Angeles-based personal trainer Astrid Swan harnesses the power of music to get her ready to take on the world. "No matter what the situation is—an early wake-up call, sprints on the treadmill, or just having a life moment, music brings me back to me," says Swan. Need a quick jolt? She says to turn up the dial "on the volume and on your workout." One song that always works for this fitness pro: "Stronger" by Britney Spears.

    Give yourself a pep talk

    Whether it's a family member's words of encouragement that have stuck with you, or lyrics from a familiar song, keeping a mantra, catchphrase or motto handy when you need a boost of confidence or determination can work wonders.
    For Swan it's simply "Let's go! I've got this." "If I'm going into a meeting, or totally dying during a workout session, I'll say it [to myself]," she says. "I say it to my clients, too! 'You've got this. You just have to believe'."

    Plan a post-workout meal

    Having a food in mind for your post-workout nosh will motivate you to crush your sweat session. Erin Bulvanoski, trainer at KORE New York, says it helps her really work for that snack she's craving. "I love finding a great smoothie shop after class," she says. "It's something I get excited about." That said, don't overdo it—remember these tips for avoiding a post-workout binge.

    Connect with friends

    A workout buddy holds you accountable for the time and effort you put into your workouts—research proves it. Plus, socializing as you sweat can make exercise more fun.
    Bulvanoksi says she enjoys staying connected to and touching base with her favorite clients. "I love inviting my friends to join me in class, too," she says. "The more people I have to look forward to see, the more I feel motivated to be at the top of my game."

    Practice being mindful

    The art of being in the moment, blocking out all the external day-to-day stress