How to get the motivation to work out at home

The motivation to work out at home: You either have it or you don’t, right? Wrong. Working out at home is a routine that you can teach yourself to enjoy and be successful at, if you go about it the right way.

That being said, you guys already know that working out at home is not my preference, and it may not be yours either, but it’s always a good option to have in your fitness arsenal, and sometimes, it’s all you have available to you — so you just do it. But, of course, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to stay committed to, so if you’re in need of some motivation to work out at home, I’ve got you covered today!

This post is a reader request, and it’s definitely well-timed for me, as I’ve finally adjusted to home workouts on the daily, whereas for many, many years, I never worked out at home, always popping into different gyms and studios to teach and take classes or do my solo sessions. Well, now that I have little Brady, who is not yet old enough to get into child-care, home workouts are my jam. And by jam, I mean what I do, because I don’t have a lot of options, and all of a sudden I feel for people who’ve had to keep their workouts at home all this time when I’ve been going to the gym. It’s not easy, and I’m figuring out what works for me as I go.

The benefits of working out at home

Before we get into the tips, let’s talk about some of the benefits of working out at home …

  • You don’t have to pay for a gym membership or for expensive studio classes.
  • You don’t have to drive to or from the gym, which cuts down on a lot of transportation time there and back.
  • The locker room is always functional and private, because you can get ready in your own bathroom.
  • The equipment you need is never in use by someone else, nor is the floor space too crowded with other bodies to do what you need to do.
  • You don’t have to worry about group fitness classes filling up or being cancelled.
  • You don’t have to worry about gym germs.
  • Nobody is ever watching or judging your movements, grunts, noises or sweet dance moves.
  • Your workouts never get rained out.

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s get into the tips on how you can get the motivation to work out at home …

How to get the motivation to work out at home

How to get the motivation to work out at home by A Lady Goes West

Find a workout (or workouts) that you enjoy and that you can do safely at home.

Duh, right?

This is my number-one tip, and it may sound silly, but it’s the most important step. If you don’t find something that you can mostly enjoy, then there’s not a high likelihood that you will want to do it or stick with it. This is always true for fitness, but especially true when working out at home, because there’s not the added element of having people you like around you to motivate you. 

Your first step is to try a lot of workouts and see what sticks for you. And all you probably need is a computer or tablet to do that. Maybe you try following streaming workouts online from Daily Burn, POPSUGAR, Barre3, Fitness Blender, Peloton or Les Mills On Demand (check out my review here and get a free trial of the service here), or maybe you watch Beachbody DVDs (do you still have a DVD player? I don’t, but you can get Beachbody online as well). Or maybe you even find a training program with an online coach like Emily Skye Fit, Kayla Itsines’ BBG, the Tone It Up girls or more, who all provide workouts through an app on your phone, streaming or in PDF form. None of which I’ve tried by the way, but I do plan to one day, so I can give my honest reviews. (If you find some solo fitness person selling workout programs, make sure they are legit, credentialed and have testimonials before investing!) 

You’ll be more successful with getting excited to work out at home if you have a plan or program to follow or a structured group fitness class workout to watch. That’s just the way it is, because if you like to make up your own workouts, then you probably fall into the category of already motivated. 

Give each program a little bit of time to see if it’s for you, then move on to the next and keep going until you find something that clicks. 

Schedule your workouts in your calendar daily at a time that works best for you, and schedule what type of workout you will do too.

The key to fitting in workouts consistently at home is putting that time in your calendar in advance. You can put a block in the your calendar every single day at the same time, or generally the same time, to make sure it’s open for you. Then, you move things around to commit to that exercise session, even if that means saying no to social plans at that time and avoiding household chores that need attention during that time.

And if you’re a stay-at-home momma who has a loose schedule and doesn’t bother with a daily calendar, then you should at least know that you will try to get your workout in around a certain time each day, or around a certain event — like baby’s morning nap or baby’s morning play session on the floor. Whatever it is, carve out that time in advance each day and stick to it.

Right now, I shoot for starting my workout every day by noon, and so if it’s nearing noon, I know it’s almost time to get moving, and I make sure I’m already in my gym clothes and know what I plan to do that day. Although, if Brady’s schedule weren’t in the picture, I’d definitely be doing an early AM session, as that’s my preference and there are so many benefits to working out in the morning, which you can read here.

The next part of this tip is actually planning what day you will do which type of workout, and this is another one of those things that may make or break your motivation to work out at home. If you are following a workout program or plan, then you won’t have to worry about deciding what’s on tap for the day, but if you are merely doing classes or streaming workouts, you’ll want to lay out which days are for resistance and which days are for cardio, flexibility or mind/body, etc.. If you know Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are resistance days, then you won’t be sitting around wondering what to do. You could definitely put the types of workouts in your calendar as well.

Want help deciding how to structure your week of workouts? Sign up for my email list here and get a free checklist and action plan to help you with that! Oh, and don’t forget to schedule those rest days each week too.

Get dressed in real workout clothes, and you get bonus points if they are cute. 

You may think that the benefit of working out at home is that you can work out in your pajamas, however, I always change into real workout clothes, including leggings, a tank, a good sports bra and sometimes sneakers too, and I think that helps with my motivation. In fact, just getting dressed in my activewear puts me that much closer to completing my sweat session, because I know I am dressed for the part. I don’t know the name of the science behind this, but there’s got to be some. You get out of “home mode” and into “fitness mode,” without ever stepping outside of the door.

Sort of how you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have — you should dress for the workout you want to do that day too. Make sure you pull your hair back and secure it in a ponytail or headband too, so you don’t have to mess with it or redo it during your workout.

When it comes to shoes, if you will be doing any jumping or side-to-side movement, you should definitely wear the proper cross-training sneakers too. If you’re doing yoga, barre, dance or static bodyweight moves with no impact, you can get away with having bare feet — but shoes work too, if they help you feel like you’re armed and ready to move.

Fun fact: In addition to getting dressed in my workout wear every day in order to get the motivation to work out at home, I also put on mascara. So weird, right? I don’t know why, but it helps me feel more awake and ready to go. 

Create a dedicated space for your workouts and have your equipment easily accessible.

This is something I’m trying to work on, because right now my workout gear is stored in the garage, and I go to get it when I need it each day to use in the family room, but I’d love to have a dedicated space to keep it all, where I could do the actual working out too. A real home gym, if you will. 

Your workout space doesn’t need much, but I would recommend a mat, a foam roller, a water bottle, a resistance tube and at least a set of dumbbells. Other fun things to add include a barbell, kettlebell, stability ball or TRX. But that’s a huge list, so really just get one weight if that’s all you can get. (However, if money is no object to you, I’d get an indoor water-rower, a spin bike and a weight bench with a variety of weights — but of course, that’s probably not the case for you, nor is it for me.)

If you have all of this stuff out and at your disposal, it will be much easier to get yourself motivated to use it all. But, if it’s not in the budget to have any gear, at least have an area where there is enough room to do a full plank and a few jumping jacks without hitting any other furniture. Perhaps you can devote a corner of your living room or family room? Or your garage? Or an empty guest bedroom? Or in your kids’ playroom? Or next to your bed in your studio apartment? Whatever you’ve got, make a “workout corner” and use it. Probably a good idea to have some ventilation, a fan and towels handy in that area too.

By the way, for my city dwellers, I used to have to move my coffee table out of the way in one of our tiny San Francisco apartments in order to practice my Les Mills classes before teaching them. Not ideal, but it worked!

Do your best to avoid distractions and interruptions ahead of time.

When I work out at home, I put my phone on silent, turn it face down and keep the TV off too. The only reason I stop my workout is if Brady cries, in which case, I comfort him with a toy or by picking him up, then I resume what I’m doing as fast as I can, so I don’t lose steam. By the way, I make sure to change his diaper and feed him before my workout, so hopefully neither of those things arise. And as of now, he LOVES to be awake and watch me work out. I put him on his activity mat or chair just a few feet from me, and he seems to be entertained by my movement — as well as the silly faces I continue to make at him every few minutes.

That being said, other than caring for Brady, I’m in the zone. I don’t check my email or texts or social media notifications during my workouts, and I think that’s important for staying focused. 

So if you’re able to be “off the grid” during your home workout, you have a better chance of completing it without stopping for something that could derail your energy, motivation and focus. Also — leave the chores and household to-dos until after your workout too. They’ll be there waiting for you at the end, I promise.

Ashley's foam rolling at home A Lady Goes West

Join accountability groups, and share your success.

One of the best ways to get the motivation to work out at home is the fact that you can tell your accountability group — whoever that may be — that you followed through. But an accountability group can be as small as texting your best friend when you’ve finished a workout, logging it into MyFitnessPal or posting to a Facebook group. I’m not saying you have to tell everyone when you work out, I’m saying it could be motivating to have a place to share your successes. If you’re not part of it yet, come on into the A Lady Goes West Friends group on Facebook, because we’d love to hear your workouts and keep you accountable there too.

While I’ve never participated in the Tone It Up community or even BBG, I know that those programs definitely encourage interaction and documenting workouts, and it seems to work for everyone involved.

If you’re not into selfies, that’s totally okay, maybe you just keep a workout log and hang it happily on your fridge. Whatever you do, be proud of your work!

When the going gets tough, just commit to doing something.

There are going to be days when you just don’t feel like it, or you are late waking up and need to get ready for work, or have so many school drop-offs and pick-ups that you can’t think straight. Instead of saying “forget it” on the workout, try doing something short, small and manageable in your workout space instead. Maybe a bunch of push-ups or stretching or foam rolling or even just the warm-up of a streaming workout to get your heart beating and body mobile. Something is always better than nothing in fitness. And you never know, once you get started, you may choose to do even more than you set out to do.

You are your own best motivator, and I know you can do it! Take your time finding the right workouts for you, set up some space, schedule the time and get committed. Good luck!

That’s it for today, friends! I’d love it if you have any tips or suggestions about home workouts that have worked for you to add to my list, please leave them in the comments below. Have a fab day!

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Questions of the day

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  1. Great tips! I definitely prefer to work out at the gym or by taking a class, but especially with the kiddos, at home workouts are sometimes necessary. I love streaming workouts from pop sugar or bad yogi when I am feeling uninspired on my own. Happy Valentines Day!

  2. I started working out at home regularly same as you…because of my baby. I already had the motivation to work out, staying home for the workouts was just the only option available. And as far as schedules go, my son created one for me. Problem solved 🙂 the only thong left for me to do was finding a workout i enjoyed. I got quite lucky there (big Shaun T fan over here)

    1. Hi Nina! Cool! I’ve tried one Shaun T workout and I was definitely impressed with his teaching style and how easy it was to follow. And I’m glad you’ve got a good home routine going! Keep it up! 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for this informative post, Ashley!

    Right now I’m really not loving group fitness (I know, don’t hate me, but it’s probably because I don’t have access to YOUR classes). But I’m just feeling burnt out from it and perhaps it’s the lazy side of me that feels sick of having to fight for personal space, show up at a specific time (early enough to get the # or spot I prefer), only to sometimes get the instruction that I’m wanting and paying for. And to be fair, I have an injured elbow so I really am having to modify and tailor my workouts quite a bit, which can be tough in group fitness. So I’m enjoying my at-home workouts a few days a week and spending the other 3 days in the gym.

    Happy Valentine’s to you and your 3 boys! Xoxo.

      1. I wrote this late last night and had to go back a few times to make sure I didn’t miss any “workout” occurrences in the wrong places hahah! PLEASE let me know if you ever see any errors.

    1. Hi Courtney! Hey, I hear you! Saturday morning is prime time for group classes, and Orangetheory is not exactly FUN, so I know why you are feeling that way. It can be more stressful than energizing to be in that environment. But I think if you did have a chance to do Les Mills BODYATTACK or other fun ones, that have moves to the music and more personality you may have a better time. Orangetheory is effective, but not quite fun heheheh! Anywho! Keep up your good routine, and I’m so glad you’ve got your gym days going too! What happened to your elbow? Oh no! Oh and Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

      1. There was no incident with my elbow, just all of a sudden started hurting when I used my arm at all (overuse or just old age perhaps?!). X-ray only showed a lot of inflammation so I’ve been trying to rest it as much as I can. But it’s amazing how much we use our arms, even during lower body workouts like weighted squats and lunges.

  4. Hey Ashley,
    I think the most important point in your blog about working out at home also would help someone whom likes to work out at the gym. Set a time schedule in the day for your workout. I am a morning person, really an early morning person like 5am. I think this is the number one motivation for me to work out each day. I roll out of bed and head to the gym for my run and lifting and finish the workout with a spin class. Knowing I have a time schedule in my day for a workout keeps me on task. Even when I was teaching/coaching I would get my workouts in before going to school.

    1. Hi Richard! Yessss and early morning workouts are soooo good for you, and I wish I could get back to that one day, when my little Brady allows it! 🙂 I always worked out before going into work when I was in the corporate world too. Definitely helps to have a schedule! 🙂

  5. Love this post!! I know I definitely wanted to read it ? Sounds like you’re making the best of your situation.

    Sounds like our workouts are similar in that I have my baby in her vibrating music chair (baby Einstein chair) in the corner of the room while I’m working out in the middle, and I get interrupted by popping her paci back in, comforting her, etc etc lol. She is not at all reliable with naps, so I had to find a time when she’s awake but occupied to do my workouts! It is working so far. Always morning because evenings are FUSSY. Haha. Not quite the same as having my headphones in and my fav music Blasting and me in the zone at the gym .. haha but I tell myself this is a phase and enjoy my little buddy. She usually dozes off by the end of my workout which gives me a chance to clean myself up, refill my water and get back to baby work. Also I pick short ish videos, 20-30 mins and then if I have time from baby I tack on another 10 or 15. But this way if she’s super fussy I can be like okay, only 15 mins left it’s okay if she fusses a bit and I can get this done. I track my workouts in my computer calendar as my own kinda motivation.

    And tbh, I feel pretty good! I have sore muscles a lot (I LOVE that) and I think I’m slowly getting into better post baby shape. I don’t have a scale so not sure! I miss my intense bodystep, body shred (does this class still exist?? I’ve been outta the game for awhile haha) and hot yoga ohh how I miss my studio yoga. But! Someday I know I’ll have more time..( maybe? Lol) and just doing my best, and trying to focus a bit more on nutrition since I’m in a Canadian winter and my steps are so lacking. Can’t wait for summer!!

    1. Hi Rose, wow! I’m so happy to hear your workouts are short and effective and giving you sore muscles! Also glad to hear you aren’t weighing yourself, because building muscles would definitely make the scale less important. As far as your little buddy time and not being able to head to the gym — I’m TOTALLY with you in the same frame of mind. I know this is a short time frame in the scheme of life, and it’s SO important to be there for your little one. Keep up the amazing work, Momma! Thank YOU for sharing and saying hi! 🙂

  6. Such a great post! I totally agree about having a plan or program. I find I’m much more motivated to workout when I have already created or planned my workout for the next day. I love doing a mix of working out at home, the gym, and taking fitness classes. Switching it up keeps me from getting bored.

  7. I love to workout at a gym. I try to do some yoga flows sometimes at home when I can’t get to the gym, but it is hard for me to really get in the gym zone at home. I usually do my weight sessions at 5am before work during the week. Lately though with snow storms, I have had to change that up a bit and settle for after work when possible. The plows don’t come through before 5am. I can’t wait for Spring so I don’t have to worry about snow. A couple times a week I go to yoga classes in the evenings. I used to swim on the weekends but I currently don’t have a pool I can go to and so I have put my focus on weightlifting for now and my body responds well to that. Yoga helps balance me out too with the stretching and balance work.

    1. Hi Alicia! Wow — sounds like you have a great routine! The 5am workout warrior crew is the most loyal, so props to you for committing to that — and yoga is can be so gentle and can be good to do at night to wind down too! Ohhh snow — I’ve never dealt with snow wherever I’ve lived (Florida and California) so I can’t relate to that hahahah! Hope it warms up for you soon!

  8. Getting off the grid is almost impossible for me, because of my darling 3, 5, and 6-year children who luckily still want to do everything their parents do 🙂 Working out when they are sleeping is always an option, but I have had much greater success asking them to exercise with me. They are really loving casting a youtube video to the television and doing a choreographed group workout, its adorable! Most of the time they are still going when I am totally wiped out from the workout, and I’ll end up burning a few more calories just from hearing “Dad come exercise with us!”

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