Discover the 8 tips that helped 32 women (and 9 men) from Leeds stay motivated to exercise (and totally transform their body) - Diligent Fitness

Discover the 8 tips that helped 32 women (and 9 men) from Leeds stay motivated to exercise (and totally transform their body)

22nd August 2016 by Kieran Igwe Exercise, Motivation 0 comments

Okay, so you know exercise is good for you. It’ll help you lose weight, tone up, feel fitter and generally live longer.

But even though you know all that, sometimes (okay most of the time) you just don’t feel like doing it.

Ahh, so you’re suffering from the human condition too. Welcome.

Cogs in mind

Welcome to Being Human

It’s a tough condition to live with. One that means even though you might really want something, you can’t always be bothered to do the stuff it’ll take to get you there.

Here’s the good news. Bar about 1% of the population it’s the same for all of us.

We can be firing on all cylinders in the morning, determined to get back in shape. But come the evening we’ll be more like “errr, what’s a cylinder?”.

Struggling to get motivated

I want to introduce you to several ideas that over 32 women (and 9 Men) living in Leeds used to stay motivated to exercise over the past year.

Now, let me get this straight. We’re not talking about those crazy types.

You know the gym bunnies that are already in great shape, workout every day and LOVE it.

We’re talking about men and women with full-on lives that previously struggled to exercise. Yet, using one or more of the ideas below managed to hit 100 workouts (or more) over the last year.

1. Find something you enjoy

Now, the first truth of fitness is – if you want to stick with something – you need to enjoy at least some element of it.

Motivation killer #1: Doing something you hate

Now, you don’t have to LOVE exercise. But there’s got to be some types of exercise enjoy more than others. We’ve been experimenting at the studio recently and here’s what we’ve found.

ok, that could've gone better

ok, that could’ve gone better

Arranging workouts to suit people’s preferences (versus doing a 100% perfect workout) kept everyone more engaged and interested in training for longer (12 months plus, versus getting bored and quitting after 3).

Huh, ain’t that something.

Take Lucy for example. She used to think running was the best way to stay in shape. Makes sense, right? But the problem was she really hated running.

No wonder she’d struggle to do it more than once in a while. She’d give herself a hard time about not being able to stick with it. But here’s the deal: Even though running may be the best way to stay in shape, if you don’t do it it’s a really crappy way to stay in shape.

So instead we looked at finding the best way for Lucy to stay in shape.

So we put a workout programme together that she actually enjoys. And as a result Lucy’s flown into the over 100 workout club. (oh and she nailed a pull up, lost 8% of her bodyweight and 3% bodyfat along the way).

2. Combine exercising with stuff you like

Another 100 workout-ee, Sue, struggled to stick with exercise before.

We twigged that she loves her 80’s music (probably because she tells us like every other day!)

So guess what we play at the studio when Sue’s in?

Yep we’re talking Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, The Communards and other artists I couldn’t possibly admit to knowing about. Let alone singing along to when no-ones’ around. Honest.
Here’s Sue achieving one her goals of a ‘360’ plank to that classic gym track ‘The Power of Love’ 😉

And you’re just as likely to hear something like this from The Cure:

If you love 80’s music (or any other type of music) make sure that’s what’s playing when you workout. You’ll be surprised how fast time goes when you’re listening to something you’re into.

3. Make it Social

One of the things we’ve found useful in helping people stay motivated is making exercise a little more social.

It feels a little easier if there’s someone else there sharing the pain.

So at DF we experimented with setting up a small community of like minded people that’re working towards their health and fitness goals.

Not only do people show up consistently for their workouts, they’ve got to know each other and workout together on a regular basis.

Here’s a snapshot of a few of the DF ladies doing the finisher together in a semi-private training session

For you this could mean pairing up with a workout buddy, hitting an exercise class or joining a running club. Make it about more than just getting a workout in.
Tie it in with a coffee and a catch up with a friend, or whatever you need to make it about more than just doing exercise.


4. Make Exercises Progressive

Here’s one thing we’ve seen kill motivation quicker than almost anything else.

Motivation killer #2: Boredom

And there’s nothing more boring than same thing. Over and Over.
I used to see this in gyms all the time. People sticking to the same routine. Getting bored and falling off the wagon.
I mean c’mon, doing the same exercise month after month has got to be a killer for even the most committed individual.
We need new challenges; new exercises to master and keep us engaged.

Most of the 100 workout folks responded well to this deal:

Once you’ve mastered an exercise (or done it for a couple of weeks) – make it a little more challenging.

Here’s how to do that with something like a push up:

  1. On the floor
  2. One leg lifted
  3. Hands on an unstable surface (like med balls)
  4. On a TRX
  5. Feet on an unstable surface (like a med ball)
  6. Add a clap in between each repetition
  7. Add a squat thrust in between each repetition…

…And it goes on

Lyz practicing push up with hands on med balls

Lyz practicing a ‘Level 3’ push up with hands on med balls
If you’re struggling to to get motivated you might just be bored. Perhaps it’s time to switch your exercises up to make it new again.

5. Keep It Varied

Similar to the point above; we get bored with doing the same old same old. At DF we found changing workouts every 4 weeks is a good way of keeping workouts interesting (and effective).
Other things some of the most successful clients at DF have done to keep it varied:

  1. Do a Park Run on a Saturday
  2. Add a circuit class to their weekly routine
  3. Get into hill-walking at the weekends
  4. Join a sports team like a local tennis club or 5 a-side football team
  5. Start cycling to work one day a week
  6. Take up dance classes
  7. Take up a hobby like climbing or bouldering

We just want to move as often and as diversely as possible. Once you’ve got a basic routine established try adding some variety to keep it interesting.

6. Have something to work towards

Sure lifetime health and fitness is a great aspiration. buuuuut, it’s just not all that inspiring.

We tend to need shorter things to shoot for to keep us engaged.

Take Chris for example. Really struggled to be consistent with exercise.

He got interested in the Ayurvedic approach to health and wellbeing, So booked a retreat. Now, to get the most out of the retreat Chris needed to get down to half a stone or so beforehand.


Having that specific date to work towards helped him stay focused. And he totally nailed it!

You can see Chris’ full story here.

Here’s what we’ve noticed; when there’s something short term to work towards motivation to train tends to be higher. The minute there’s nothing to work towards motivation drops.

Motivation Killer #3: Having no goal to work towards

Want to stay motivated? Give yourself something specific to work towards.

Travel destination map push pins blur

If you’re struggling for ideas here’s 15 examples from some of the men and women working towards goals at DF:

  1. Look amazing on my wedding day next year
  2. Walk the Yorkshire 3 peaks
  3. Cycle from Lands end to John ‘O Groats
  4. Be able to do back to back days on a walking holiday
  5. Look and feel my best going into a new career
  6. Be able to keep up with my young kids
  7. Be able to play 3 sets of tennis without being shattered
  8. Complete my first 10k run
  9. Have a flat stomach and wear a bikini on holiday
  10. Feel confident with my shirt off working in the garden 
  11. Get fit enough to be able to play 5-aside football again
  12. Lift my bodyweight with 3 wide grip pull ups
  13. Be fit enough to climb Snowdon (and do a tough mudder!)
  14. Be pain free and be able to enjoy walking on holiday
  15. Compete in a 100k mountain bike race

Sure, all these folks wanted to get in better shape, lose some body fat and feel fitter.

But having something specific to work towards in the meantime helped keep them motivated while they moved towards their bigger, longer term aims (which take a little longer to achieve).

Bonus Tip: Losing weight alone is rarely enough to stay motivated to exercise.

7. Take Advantage of Accountability

Once you’ve got something to work towards you probably need the some level of accountability to help you stick to it.

Now, one of the ladies in the ‘over 100 workout club’ – Alison – had tried working out in the past. She’s an intelligent, educated, dedicated human being when it comes to work and family.

But when it came to sticking to fitness she struggled.

Because no-one was there watching it was easy to miss a workout when she got busy.

If she missed, no one noticed.

If she clocked out early because she felt tired, no one cared.

Once I was in her corner, she felt more obliged to show show up.

Motivation Killer #4 Only answering to yourself


12 months of accountability gave Alison the edge she needed to do something she’d wanted to do for years. And over that year Alison totally transformed her body

Mostly we have no problem breaking a promise we made to ourselves. We do it all the time. No big deal right?

So much that we get used to letting ourselves down.

But for the most part we don’t like letting other people down.

So we’ve got to use that to our advantage. Here’s how: (and this is THE biggest secret secret that thousands of men and women have used successfully to stay focused and on track):

Make a commitment to someone other than yourself.

Just yesterday I was thinking about all the reasons why I couldn’t workout the following day. Then my colleague Dan came into the office and asked what time I was training. I said 4. He said see you there.

No way I was ducking out of the workout now.

Plus I just added another way of staying motivated: (Read more about the power of social influence)

How we do accountability at DF

At DF each client books weekly appointments with their coach in advance, which helps them commit to showing up and working towards their goal.

The best thing about this approach?

Even when motivation is at an all time low, they still show up

Even when life gets busy, they still show up

They keep coming because they don’t want to let someone else down.


Having those weekly appointments keeps them (and their goals) somewhere on the priority list. Rather than dropping to the back of the queue.

My recommendation for anyone looking for a little help with motivation? Have time booked in the diary to exercise (ideally with a trainer but a colleague or friend’ll work too).

That way you’re covered, even when motivation drops.

8. Set a time to review what you’ve achieved.

Reviewing your progress each month is a good way to see how far you’ve come. But here’s the catch. All the ‘over 100 workout club’ set up a date to review in advance.

It’s a short term deadline to work towards.

Use the time to check in, see what went well, where you struggled and set a new challenge for the next 30 days.

DF Fitness Journey

Set the focus for the next 30 days

Rather than thinking you have to go on forever. All you need to do is make it to your next check point. 30 days seems to work well

Motivation Killer #5: Losing Focus

Bang a date in the diary 30 days from now and resolve to do some stuff to improve your fitness between now and then.

Consider looking at measures like weight loss, fitness and general well being compared to the previous month. If things are moving forward great! keep hitting it. If not then it’s a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate the plan and set some targets for the coming month.

If nothing else be sure to look back from time to time to reflect on how far you’ve come.

Personal Trainer Horsforth


Contrary to popular belief, the key to you long term health and fitness success is NOT finding how to stay motivated to exercise. (no-one’s motivated to exercise all of the time).

Instead, find your answer to the question:

“How can I stay on track even when I’m not motivated”.

And my final bonus tip on staying motivated comes from Psychologist Victor Frankl in his great book: Man’s Search For Meaning;

“He who has a WHY… can bear almost any HOW”

Need More Help With Motivation to Exercise?

If you know accountability and structure works for you then register to come in for a free chat at DF and let’s see if we can get you started towards the health and fitness goals that’re important to you.






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