How to motivate yourself to not hate exercising
James “Jay” Averitt- Raleigh, NC
Like many people, I work behind a desk all day. Despite always having a gym membership, I would only go a few days of the year. I wanted to like to exercise and feel that “runner’s high” that runners brag about. I never felt anything remotely close to that. My gym visits pretty involved me dragging myself to the gym and walking slowly on the treadmill until I reached the appropriate level of boredom and left. I actually once had a company pay for a gym membership at an elite gym, but only if you visited the gym 7x a month. I found myself making myself go to the gym 7x a month and mostly just visiting the smoothie bar, which was counterproductive.
Last February, I had discovered that I had put on some weight and needed a long term strategy for weight maintenance. I have always been great at losing weight through dieting, but maintaining that weight with virtually no exercise is difficult. I had also heard about the excellent mental health benefits associated with exercise from reading things like the excellent book, Spark. I determined in earnest to come up with a plan to make myself exercise.
I had heard wonderful things about Orangetheory so I decided to sign up for a free class. Please keep in mind that I was terribly out of shape and it had been almost a decade since I had done any semblance of real exercise. I made it through the class, but did have a few miscues along the way. Somehow even though I hadn’t done a shred of exercise, I allowed the trainer shame me into being a jogger instead of a power walker. This resulted in me feeling like I was dying and needing to take a couple of unannounced water breaks. I also fell off the rowing machine at one point and the trainer had to assist me in getting back on the rower. Even with my unsanctioned breaks, I managed to burn 823 calories during the class. After the class, the trainer told me I was “deconditioned” (personally I think I was never conditioned in the first place), and he recommended that I sign up for their “unlimited’ package and attend 5 classes a week. Orangetheory’s pricing varies from city to city, but the unlimited package in my locale was $159/month.
I really felt like I had gotten a great workout at Orangetheory and really agreed with the HIIT (“High Intensity Interval Training”) approach. I would much rather do a shorter more intense cardio workout than a long drawn out cardio workout. There is a whole bunch of science that also suggests that HIIT is much more beneficial as well. However, I had two problems with Orangetheory. The first being that $159/month was a little steep for my budget and second I just had a problem with the overall structure of being tied to a class setting. I loved having a trainer — but did not like feeling like I was the most out of shape in the class. Orangetheory has an ample amount of classes at various times throughout the day — but I still wanted the freedom of being able to workout whenever I wanted.
I searched all over the internet to find an Orangetheory alternative. I was pleased to find that there are a significant amount of apps out there that proclaim to be similar to Orangetheory. I tried a bunch of them, but the one that I found that truly taught me to embrace exercising was Aaptiv. Aaptiv employs a wide array of trainers that have specific exercises for treadmill, rowing, cycling, etc. The thing I liked most about it is that it has all of the exercises categorized as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. You can also further filter your exercises by musical preference or trainer. It really does simulate having a personal trainer walk you through exercises. I personally have been trying to learn how to run, so I did a bunch of treadmill exercises. The trainers will walk you through a HIIT workout, telling you the exact speed to set the treadmill. They will say “OK, let’s set the treadmill to 4.5.” They will tell you how long to keep the treadmill at that speed and exactly when to change. While you are at a certain speed, they will also teach you proper running form, “Make sure you land on your mid-foot strike.” They are constantly telling you to assess your form and posture.
I think all of the trainers are great, but I can’t say enough about Ackeem “Don’t Stop” Emmons. Ackeem is a former Equinox personal trainer in NYC. His workouts will definitely exhaust you as much as the Orangetheory workout that I described above, but Ackeem also balances giving you proper training advice with life advice. He could be a motivational speaker in addition to a trainer. Once I discovered Aaptiv and Ackeem, I discovered something strange. I actually wanted to go to the gym. I am not sure if the feeling I got post workout was actually a “runner’s high” or not, but I can definitely say that I enjoyed the feeling of my entire body being covered in sweat.
I also was motivated to try to run faster. I went from being able to run a mile in around 10 minutes to being able to run a 8 minute mile for the first time in my life. I acknowledge that this isn’t really fast, but for me, this was an accomplishment. I credit all of my success to Ackeem and the other Aaptiv trainers motivational advice. I
Aaptiv and Ackeem also didn’t endorse this article in any way. This was just my personal experience that I felt positively changed my life so I wanted to share with others. This motivated me to hit the gym when I had never done it before. If you haven’t found something to motivate you, I recommend you giving it a try. If it doesn’t work for you, find something that will motivate you. As Ackeem would say, the most important thing is once you start working out, “Don’t Stop.”