If you’re having trouble beginning an exercise plan or following through, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle getting out of the sedentary rut, despite our best intentions.

You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise instructions and workout plans are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more—you need the right mindset and a smart approach.

While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the biggest barriers are mental. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, or your motivation quickly flames out, or you get easily discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.

Whatever your age or fitness level—even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life —there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.

Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your mental and emotional health.  The BASH methods are fun and ever-changing so that your mind and body never get bored.

Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.

Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you must go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.

Making excuses for not exercising? Whether it’s lack of time or energy, or fear of the gym, there are solutions.

Let’s bust the biggest exercise excuses!

  1.  “I hate exercising.”  Many people feel the same.  Find something that you enjoy doing. BASH offers a wide variety of classes so that there truly is something for everyone!  If you don’t like a certain class format, then try another one!
  2. “I am too busy.”   Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for activities that are important.  Prioritize your workouts and you!  It’s your decision to make exercise a priority.  Make an appointment with yourself and schedule classes that you will attend or subscribe to each week.
  3. “I am too tired.” It may sound counterintuitive, but physical activity is a powerful pick-me-up that actually reduces fatique and boosts energy levels in the long run.  With regular exercise, you’ll feel more energized, refreshed and alert at all times.  There is a great mood booster with a sense of accomplishment after each workout as well.
  4. “I’m too large,” “I’m too old,” or “My health isn’t good enough.” It’s never too late to start building your strength and physical fitness, even if you are a queenager or a self-confessed couch potato who has never exercised before.  BASH encourages all women to COME AS YOU ARE!
  5. “Exercise is too difficult and painful.”  “No pain, no gain” is an outdated way of thinking about exercise.  Exercise shouldn’t hurt.  And you don’t have to push yourself until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches to get results.  You can build your strength and tone your body with science based BASH workouts that get results through specific and intentional movement.

How to make exercise a habit that sticks.

There’s a reason so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape crash and burn before February rolls around. And it’s not that you simply don’t have what it takes. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build habits that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them.

Start small and build momentum:  The more ambitious your goal, the more likely you are to fail, feel bad about it, and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals you know you can achieve. As you meet them, you’ll build self-confidence and momentum. Then you can move on to more challenging goals.

Make it automatic with triggers:  Triggers are one of the secrets to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. In fact, research shows that the most consistent exercisers rely on them. Triggers are simply reminders—a time of day, place, or cue—that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decide on. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk. You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym. You spot your sneakers right by the bed and you’re up and working out. Find ways to build them into your day to make exercise a no-brainer.

Reward yourself: People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards it brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of well-being. However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new fitness goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.

Set yourself up for success!

Schedule your workouts. You don’t attend meetings and appointments spontaneously, you schedule them. If you’re having trouble fitting exercise into your schedule, consider it an important appointment with yourself and mark it on your daily agenda.

Make it easy on yourself. Plan your workouts for the time of day when you’re most awake and energetic. If you’re not a morning person, for example, don’t undermine yourself by planning to exercise before work.

Remove obstacles. Plan for anything that might get in the way of exercising. Do you tend to run out of time in the morning? Get your workout clothes out the night before so you’re ready to go as soon as you get up. Do you skip your evening workout if you go home first? Keep a gym bag in the car, so you can head out straight from work.

Hold yourself accountable. Commit to program like BASH where you are held accountable by your instructors or classes.  If you’ve got a workout partner waiting, you’re less likely to skip out.  BASH is excellent at motivating clients to stay on track and show up for workouts!

Try a mindfulness approach: Instead of zoning out or distracting yourself when you exercise, try to pay attention to your body. By really focusing on how your body feels as you exercise—the rhythm of your breathing, the way your feet strike the ground, your muscles flexing as you move, even the way you feel on the inside—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster but also interrupt the flow of worries or negative thoughts running through your head, easing stress and anxiety. Exercising in this way can also help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD and trauma. Activities that engage both your arms and legs—like the flows we do in BASH classes —are great choices for practicing mindfulness and creates a cognitive form of exercise as well. 

BASH Fitness is different from other studios or online programs.  We are your biggest cheerleaders and truly care about you getting your classes.  The classes are constantly changing so that your body continues to gain strength and tone up.