How to combat workout dread and make your workout spark joy

Workout dread is a common thing. For many people working out feels like an obligation or a necessary evil, like doing the dishes or laundry. Just as Marie Kondo says about the things that you own though, your workout should spark joy, and it shouldn’t just be due to exercises’ intrinsic hormone regulation.

Why is it important to enjoy your workout? The bulk of our time is filled by work and sleep so spending our free time doing things that bring joy to our lives is important. While some people can soldier through fitness regimens despite not having much fondness for what they are doing, the majority of people eventually give up. It’s a lot easier to make time for something that you enjoy and the more you like something, the more devoted you’ll be and the more you’ll get out of it.

While of course there may be an occasional workout that you don’t like or aren’t looking forward to, you should be happy to exercise the majority of time and exercise should seem like more of a get to than a have to. While this may seem easy for the jock or fitness fanatic, even the most unathletic and out of shape people can find an activity they like and gets them moving enough to reap the health benefits of exercise. Here are some tips to get rid of workout dread and get your workout to spark joy.

Firstly, see if you actually like your workout. Not how you feel after your workout or the results that your workout gives you but your actual workout. Try and make a list of particular things that you like about your workout and how it makes you feel. If this is easy for you and you make a list that you’re happy with, than it probably means your workout is doing a good job of making you happy. If you’re having a hard time expressing any feelings of love for your workout than it might be time to search for something different. While you don’t need an Olympic level obsession with an activity ,with a plethora of options to choose from, you’ll be able to find something that you have a fondness for.

Keep your list and if you’re feeling unmotivated, having an off day or trying to come back from an injury take a look at it to amp yourself up. If you feel like the list isn’t ringing true anymore, it might be time to switch to a different activity.

Look at workout time as your time. It’s time where you aren’t fulfilling your obligations of working, cleaning or taking care of your kids. It’s time for you that you are spending on yourself because you want to. While you might have time booked with a personal trainer or a session booked with a studio, it’s still your choice whether to go or not and what you do in these sessions. Unlike when we were kids, there’s no longer that need to finish a session/end of the season and you can go to that super cool birthday party that everyone else is going to if you want. You dictate your workout time.

Try different things. While you may love your current workout, everybody needs a changeup sometimes to keep things from getting too boring. It can be something as small as trying a new exercise at the gym or trying a different instructor for a class or you can try changing to a completely different workout. Trying new things can help find other things that you might like and also helps with injury prevention.

Workout at a time that works for you. If your workout time is making you exhausted or hangry, change it. There’s a misconception that the best time to work out is early in the morning. In reality the best time to workout is anytime when you aren’t losing sleep to workout. Getting enough sleep is just as important as exercise and as anyone who has dealt with a tired toddler knows, it’s easy to hate EVERYTHING when you are tired. Plus if you played hockey or figure skated as a child you’ve probably had your fair share of 6am rink times.

Make sure your workout frequency isn’t too ambitious. While this may seem a little odd, going to the gym 3 times a week for 3 months is usually better than going to the gym everyday for a month. No matter how much you love your workout, everybody has a burnout or injury point and it’s best to stay below that. While everybody is different keep your workout frequency to a point where you’re still happy to be going and you usually have enough time to recover from soreness.

Find an intensity that works for you. When people think of exercise, they often think of it at its most extreme. However you don’t need to be completely sore and covered in sweat when you’re working out if you don’t want to. You can find trainers and classes that will fit the intensity that you want. On the other hand, you’re never too old to push it to the max if you want too. If you thrive off of intensity and still have a drive to compete, you can also still compete in most sports as an adult.

Train with people you like or use your workout time as alone time. With limited downtime, working out can be a great time to also spend some time with friends and family. That being said, time by yourself can be great if you’re surrounded by people the rest of the day. And with streaming classes you can get complete solitude, even if you’re doing a group fitness class so see what works best for you. There’s also lots of opportunity to find community in sports, studios and gyms.

Working out can add time to your life but it’s also important that time spent working out adds to your current life as well.

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