After a full day of sitting through meetings that could have been emails and trying not to lose your cool at Karen for forgetting to re-fill the office coffee pot again, the last thing most people want to do is haul to the gym. In fact, in a recent Instagram survey, 62 percent of our readers revealed that they would rather work out in the morning than at night. And personally, I’m right there with them. I’m one of those people who is constantly singing a refrain of: “If I don’t workout in the morning, it isn’t gonna happen.” That’s mostly because I would rather go home and drink wine on my couch than go sit on a spin bike after the clock strikes 7 p.m.
“After work workouts can be tough because there are more chances that a variety of things can happen during the day to deter you,” says Colette Dong, co-founder of New York City’s the ness. “In the mornings there is usually only one variable —can you wake up?—because your day hasn’t been long enough to let in as many distractions.” At night, though it can be a combination of work, exhaustion, or the desire to just mindlessly watch television, she adds.
But every once in a while, even if you’re a die-hard member of the morning workout tribe, every once in a while, you find yourself in a position when you’ve gotta motivate to get to the gym after a long day at the office, even when it’s literally the last thing you want to do. To help make it slightly less awful, I chatted with trainers for the best ways to mentally psych yourself up to get from your desk-chair to the treadmill. Their advice won’t only help you get to the gym, but it’ll make you happy you did it once you’re there.
One way to make evening workouts a bit easier? Do them at home! Start with this full-body Pilates workout:
Mark it on the calendar
Treat your workouts like any other important meeting, but think of them as appointments you’ve made for yourself. “One of the biggest things that forced me to skip a class or miss my workout plan goal was last minute meetings at the end of the day. Block the time off on your calendar to help you stick to your plan,” says James Beggan, an instructor at RYDE Cycle in New York City. And Dong advises always booking in advance, so that you can’t cancel at the last minute without a penalty.
Don’t go it alone
Bailing on a workout is a lot harder when it means also bailing on a friend. “Book class with a co-worker so you can hold each other accountable and leave from the same place,” says Dong. And, bonus, working out with someone from the office is pretty much the easiest way to go from “work friends” to “real-life friends”—once you’ve jumped on a trampoline together, there’s really no going back.
Prep so that excuses aren’t an option
“Leave a full set of everything you need for your go to workout under your desk in a tote bag. You never know when plans with friends will fall through or your EOD meeting will get cancelled,” says Beggan. “When you all of a sudden have extra time after your work day but no clothes to hit up your workout, you wont go.”
Do something that sparks joy
The idea of Marie Kondo-ing your workout routine might sound ridiculous, but it really can help when it comes to showing up. “Find a workout that you really love and look forward to—not one that’s just checking off another box on your to-do list,” says Dong. Or try something new and different that you’re excited to show up at, suggests Beggan. It will make actually showing up a whole lot easier.
Don’t psych yourself out
The fastest way to sabotage your workout is by doing the mental gymnastic required to talk yourself out of it. “As soon as you leave the office or get home, set the actions in motion needed to get yourself to class or to the gym,” says fitness instructor Faye Scott, pointing to the principle of “the more you think, the less you do.” Focus on the actionable things that need to happen in order to make your workout a reality—getting on the subway, changing into leggings, getting on the treadmill—and that task-oriented thinking will help get you out of your head and onto the elliptical.
Getting out of bed more your personal problem? Here’s how to motivate for those sub-7am gym sessions, too. And no matter what time you’re making those workouts happen, don’t forget to stretch when they’re over.
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