5 Crazy Tips to Trick Yourself into Going to the Gym

1) Just plug the gym address into your GPS

Smartphone navigation in car

It’s one of those days where you are just so mentally fatigued from work that all you can fathom is hopping in the car and heading straight home to zone out in front of Netflix.. But wait. You know going to the gym is a much better stress reliever. And your body says, “We’ve been sitting on this butt all day.”

“I. Just. Can’t,” your brain whines to your body. But your body is too quick. Your thumbs deftly type the address to your gym into Google maps. Your exhausted mind is powerless, hypnotized by the computerized voice that barks out directions.

“Head south on Main Street,” she says. You climb into your car and drive, zombie-like, until you have arrived at your destination.

Your body skips happily out of the car towards the gym entrance, and your mind says, “Ok, cool. I guess I could zone out to some EDM music instead. As long as I don’t have to read one more damn email.”


Okay, it might not happen exactly like that for you. Maybe you don’t drive to the gym. But I will tell you that this has worked for me. I don’t care if you know your way to the gym by heart and all the detours to take through traffic. If you’re feeling unmotivated to get to the gym, sometimes all you need is for someone to tell you what to do. Who better to boss you to the gym than your map system’s computerized persona? Call her Siri, Google, Alexa, whatever. We all let her boss us around on a regular basis. And now, she can be your (free) gym accountability buddy, too!

If you don’t drive to the gym, you can still try this. Type the address into your phone, plug your headphones in, make your way to the bus/train stop, and get ready to be told where to go. Sometimes public transportation makes it even easier. If your gym is on the way home, just force your body off the bus/train at the correct stop and trudge to the gym. If today is particularly rough or the weather is really deterring you, bite the bullet and call for a RideShare to your gym. So classy.

2) Develop a crush at the gym*

couple lover training exercise together in gymnasium

I don’t think I’ve seen this one in anyone else’s gym motivation tips. I really wonder why… I think having a crush just might be the key to getting anything and everything done.

Trust me, it works.

When I was in grad school, I had a library crush. He was kinda cute, but it wasn’t his looks that had me crushing. So, what did he have going for him? Well, he was a med student, so he was always at the library. He was really a great library role model for me (but I realize I’m talking about the gym in this post. He was a very bad gym role model, as his butt was always in his chair). Whenever I walked up to the 5th floor, there he was, staring at the computer. I started to look forward to studying at the library, just to see if he would be there. It was like some weird inside joke between me and myself. I would smile and laugh to myself whenever I walked by him. I never talked to him, and I never wanted him to talk to me. It was the perfect romance. Then I graduated and moved away. The end. The point is, it got me to look forward to being in a place that I wasn’t typically thrilled to be.

Once you find that awesome gym crush (or two, or three), you can look forward to seeing their sexy smile and toned butt acting as your perfect fitness role model, and a trip to the gym will feel like watching a movie starring Dwayne Johnson (or I don’t know, Rhonda Rousey? Insert your favorite fit celebrity crush here.) You’ll be motivated to work your ass off to look just like them.

*Okay, the gym is a bit more “primal” than the library, so I kinda think we should lay some ground rules for crushes:
Rule #1: There will be no acting on this crush. I repeat. Do not ask your crush out. Do not flirt with him/her. Just let them be the hot face/body that you look forward to seeing when you go to the gym. Otherwise, you might run into some awkward situations. If you go out with your crush and it ends horribly… well then you can’t possibly show your face at that gym again. Now, the whole purpose of developing a crush to get your ass motivated to go the gym has been negated. Also, because you’re never going to act on your crush, this means that even people in a relationship can use gym crushes as a motivating factor! Yay, equality for all!
Rule #2: Do not crush on your personal trainer or fitness instructor. If you are attracted to your trainer, please find a new trainer. Any professional trainer/instructor does not date their clients, so see rule number one, and shove that silly idea aside.

3) Make friends with the staff

Gym registration.

As evidenced by my point above, going to the gym is way more enjoyable if you have some friendly interaction or have someone that you look forward to seeing. So why don’t you make friends with the staff?!

Take out an earbud, and smile at the front desk associate who scans your card. Ask how his/her day is. If you’re in the market for a personal trainer, maybe he or she can recommend someone to you? Were you wondering if that juice place next door is any good? Chances are the gym staff knows a thing or two about healthy eats nearby. Ask away!

On the gym floor, there might be an opportunity to talk to a personal trainer or even the maintenance staff. Be aware of others around you. Don’t be afraid to ask a trainer if they are using a piece of equipment. Proper gym etiquette states that they should inform you how many more sets they have on the equipment and offer to work in with you if it’s at all possible. You should do the same. Be friendly, and the gym will be a more enjoyable place for all.

If you’re an introvert or are just feeling really grumpy and don’t want to talk to anyone, don’t worry! I have another fun solution for you. While you’re on the cardio machine, resting between weight sets, or stretching on the mats… just observe people. It’s pretty fun to people watch at the gym. Don’t be creepy! I like to make up their backstories, guess their careers, fabricate a conversation that they’re having while warming up on the treadmill. Some fun characters I’ve seen at the gym include:

  • shiny red shoe man (Always the red shoes and a matching red shirt! Does he just really like red… or was he peacocking? The world may never know.)
  • man who is always running in sandals (Ok, this is a thing for foot health. But still it’s fascinating.)
  • grumpy recumbent bike woman (I swear she was there every night for a couple hours, looking wholly unhappy about her evening plans.)
  • loud, grunting guy (Always in the squat rack. Brought chalk even though it wasn’t allowed. Verrrrry loud.)
  • Coach sneaker lady (Designer sneakers were not meant to be worn in the gym. I really don’t know what they were made for. Shopping?)

Clearly, I look at people’s shoes a lot. I think that means I’m an introvert. Or maybe I just like shoes. Bottom line, if your gym crush isn’t around, you have plenty of people (and their shoes) to look forward to seeing at the gym! Make it your community!

4) Bribe yourself

sport gift box and fitness equipment  . bright background

Obviously, don’t bribe yourself with food or alcohol. My recommendation is to bribe yourself with something that feels relaxing immediately after the gym.

Say to yourself, “If I go to the gym, then I can…”

  • watch an episode of mind-numbing reality TV
  • pop into the music store and browse the record section
  • roast in the sauna for a bit
  • sleep-in tomorrow morning

Or make it a longer term thing that might require more $$$ investment. “If I go to the gym 3 times a week for the next month, then I can…”

  • buy a new pair of workout pants or shoes (bonus points because you’re reinvesting in your fitness hobby!)
  • get a massage, facial, or manicure
  • buy that new awesome thing I’ve been eyeing

5) Skip the gym

teen african young woman relaxing at home

Didn’t expect to see this one on here, did you? If you’re really having difficulty motivating yourself to go to the gym, and that’s not a usual thing for you… check in with yourself. Are you feeling exhausted?

You know that saying, “You never regret a workout?”

Well, that’s so not true. I’ve regretted plenty of workouts. Like that time I went for a hike,  jumped off a ledge and busted my ankle. Like that time I went to the gym and landed a dance move that stubbed my toe so hard, I thought I broke it. Like that time I went for a run, but my plantar fascititis started acting up halfway through, and I had to walk home in the rain, uphill both ways. Ok, maybe not that uphill part. The point is, you can regret a workout because of an injury. And it’s more likely that you’ll get injured (or re-injured) if you’re tired.

  • If you haven’t been getting enough sleep for the past few nights, and your body is screaming for you to go home and rest, skip the gym. Without adequate sleep, your muscles won’t recover well after the workout anyway.
  • If you’ve worked out multiple days in a row and your body is sore and sluggish, skip the gym. Overtraining can lead to injury as well. If you’re itching to move, consider a non-gym alternative. You could go for a walk, or stretch at home.

Listen to your body. Give it the rest it deserves. Just try not to let this become a habit. If you find yourself skipping the gym day after day because you’re sore and/or tired, then it might be time to re-evaluate your sleep schedule or workouts. Or schedule a visit with the doctor and make sure you’re healthy.

Be honest with yourself. You know if you’re being lazy. And if that’s the case… as a personal trainer, it’s my job to tell you to stop making excuses, suck it up, and get back to the gym!


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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Veronica Court says:

    Hey Chelsea! I love reading all of your fitness and wellness posts! I’ve posed this question to many people, either out of sheer curiosity or out of my own self-created “need” for motivation. A really common answer is to take a pre-workout supplement that basically spurs the person into workout mode chemically, from what I imagine are caffeine jitters. I am conflicted on that approach, both on the healthiness of pre-workout supplements (which I’ve tried off and on) and on whether that kind of mutes the body’s possible NEED for rest. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Chelsea says:

      Hey Veronica, thanks for reading! I also hear that a lot. Pre-workouts usually contain caffeine… and the stimulant effects of caffeine actually do have an impact on the effort you put into your workout. I am also on the fence about the use of caffeine to motivate yourself when you are otherwise feeling tired or completely worn out. I think about this even on days that I’m not even considering a workout, but I KNOW I’m fighting the beginnings of a cold and I’m exhausted, craving extra caffeine just to get through the workday. Needing caffeine to get through a day or a workout is a red flag… and your body would probably be served better if you go home and take a nap or go to bed early. Bottom line is that I think you are right to wonder, and I definitely think caffeine mutes the body’s signals for rest. However, I did do some brief research on this and couldn’t find any study that looked at caffeine consumption and rates of the flu/common cold.

      Some things to think about if you think you NEED caffeine to boost your energy for a workout: 1) Will you be able to get to sleep after taking that caffeine? People have varying tolerances, and some people can’t take caffeine in the afternoon otherwise they will be too wired to fall asleep at an appropriate bedtime. 2) Have you already had a lot of caffeine today, above and beyond what you usually take? If so, why? It might be time to listen to your body and give it the rest it is calling for.

      [Side note on pre-workout supplements]: Personally, I don’t take any pre-workout supplements (because regular old water or tea and whole foods fuel me and my workouts just fine). I’ve stopped drinking coffee altogether… so if I do want a lift in the afternoon or before a workout, I’ll reach for some iced tea or matcha. I would have to do some research if you are looking for recommendations on “clean” supplement products that don’t contain questionable ingredients. Generally, there are 4 effective ergogenic supplements with substantial evidence behind them: caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and BCAAs. You should be discerning about any pre-workout supplement that has anything else added to it.

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