Fitness & workouts

7 motivating tips to fire up your at-home workouts

Are you finding your home workouts a bit repetitive? Experts share simple ways to recharge your energy, focus and joy so you can keep your body moving through lockdown.

With outdoor exercise newly limited to once per day, and the cold weather taking its toll, home workouts are still very much in the spotlight.

If you're finding your indoor workouts a little repetitive (we've been doing them since March, after all) or you're struggling to find an ideal workout spot, try the ideas below. A few simple tweaks could supercharge your home workouts, make them more enjoyable, and help you keep the momentum going.

1. Carve out a designated workout space

Even in the smallest of spaces, it may be helpful to designate a specific space as your home fitness area. Doing this can mentally psych you up for your workout. “The best thing you can do is make your space functional and convenient,” says trainer Kekua Kobashigawa, CPT. “If you feel cramped or it’s a hassle to bring equipment out or move furniture, you’re less likely to work out.”

You don’t have to go wild - a little goes a long way in creating a workout nook you love. Simply placing a nice towel or yoga mat lined with your weights and resistance bands in the corner of your bedroom will do. For a little extra, you can add an aromatherapy diffuser or a vision board with inspirational quotes to help you feel more excited to limber up in your home fitness “studio.”

2. Throw open the blinds

Time to brighten your space. “One of the best ways to enjoy working out at home is to light up the room,” says physical therapist Tim Fraticelli. “Open up the shades and consider adding a brighter light to your room if you’re looking to improve your mood while working out.”

While regular exercise has been linked to a number of health-related quality of life improvements, research suggests that adding a bright light could increase the benefits related to mood.

3. Pump up the jams

Whether you’re going for a spin on your home bike or doing an at-home strength training session, high-energy music can make all the difference. “Music can turn an unmotivated mood into a workout-crushing mood in no time,” explains Carrie A Groff, CPT, a trainer with ClassPass. “When you hear a song that gets your head bobbing, it makes you want to push for one more rep.”

It also takes your mind off the muscle burn, she adds. So the next time you’re tempted to bail on that sweat, turn on one of the many workout playlists on an app like Spotify and see whether it impacts how you feel.

4. Optimise your timing

While working towards your goals for physical activity, choosing a regular “when” can be helpful for staying on track. This will look different for everyone: you may designate a specific hour to work out each day, or you may simply aim to get moving within a broader time window (for example, in the afternoons before dinner).

Whatever your style, make your routine a habit and you’ll be less likely to skip working out, and more likely to look forward to it as a way to recharge and reset during harried times. “I love my morning routine, which includes my workout, morning coffee, and preparing myself for the day,” Groff says. “I look forward to it every day.”

To figure out a home workout routine that feels doable on a regular basis, think about your overall schedule. Morning workouts might not make sense for you, for instance, if you have to be on a workplace Zoom call at 8am every week day. Instead, you might want to carve out 30 minutes at midday to get moving, then grab a quick lunch before getting back to work. Night owl? Maybe aim to disconnect from work or chores every night at 7pm and find an Aaptiv audio workout to do in your living room. It’s all about finding a system that works for you.

5. Move in a way that works for you

If you find yourself dragging through the same exercises every day or feeling intimidated by the thought of hour-long sessions, remember this: the best type of activity is one you actually enjoy, because that’s what you’re more likely to do consistently.

Pushed for time? Research links high-intensity training - which you can do in just 15 minutes per day - to a slew of benefits, including stress reduction, improved heart health, and more.

6. Wear workout clothes you love

You may not be locking eyes with fellow gym-goers or sweating alongside your workout buddy, but putting on apparel that you love can help fuel your activity. “I know you’re probably not trying to impress people while you’re working out at home, but didn’t you love putting on a workout outfit that made you feel great before heading to the gym?” asks Zumba instructor Audrey Del Prete, CGFI, CHWC. “If it makes you feel good, then do it! Every little bit of motivation helps.”

And by “workout clothes,” we don't necessarily mean fancy, expensive performance gear. If a tatty hoodie makes you feel unstoppable, and you can move comfortably in it, by all means make that your look.

7. Limit distractions

Even with the proper equipment, clothes, and routine, working out at home can be challenging. Unlike our homes, which have now become workplaces, schools, cinemas, restaurants, and more over the past year or so, gyms and fitness studios exist for one purpose: exercise. “The best thing about going to a gym is that it is not home, where there are a million distractions, like kids and pets running around,” Del Prete says.

So, the next time you’re really trying to focus on a class or circuit, act like you’re at the gym. Try eliminating distractions as much as possible by switching off your email or social media notifications, and letting household members know you’re leaving to work out - even if that’s just in the other room. The best part? You won’t have to wait for anyone to finish using a pair of weights or the treadmill.