When it comes to motivating ourselves to exercise, our biggest demon is ourselves. For the most part, we all know that we should be exercising regularly. The issue is that we don’t want to!

So, instead of trying to think of a few motivational slogans, the team here at ZH Pilates has listed a few scientifically proven ways to get you active:


Some people are easily motivated by easy goals such as “better health” or “weight control.” But not all of us find it that simple. Our first tip is making the benefits of working out more tangible, such as by treating yourself afterwards.

Eventually, the motivation becomes habitual. Your brain begins to associate working out with the reward that follows. Once you’ve trained your brain to recognise that exercise itself is the real reward, you’ll no longer need a treat!


Making a promise to yourself is all well and good, but it’s far too easy to break a promise that is merely in your head! Research shows we’re more likely to be true to our word if it is pledged in front of friends or written down.

You can raise the stakes as much as you like. Incurring penalties for missed sessions is always a good place to start. What is more motivating than having to pay a friend for not sticking to your word! Shame and embarrassment are strong motivators. By making the commitment in front of your friends, you are instantly decreasing the likelihood of failure.


For years, many people have promoted the idea that harbouring a positive mindset will serve as a motivational technique. For example, when I’m contemplating a morning run, it helps to imagine how refreshed and energised I will feel after afterwards. However, in order to imagine the benefits, you first have to analyse the obstacles. This is called ‘mental contrasting’. While focussing on the ‘positives’, we dread the negatives.

It’s not just about being perpetually positive. Being realistic and avoiding the obstacles is the key. Instead of endlessly motivating yourself to get up and go for a run in the morning when it’s easier to stay in bed, arrange to go straight after work. Seek ways to eradicate the ability to avoid the work out!


The easiest form of motivation is to surround yourself with a like-minded and supportive community. Exercising alone makes it far too easy to give up – and you are your worst enemy. We are all far too capable of talking ourselves out of exercise!

Laughing, high fives and words of encouragement are priceless. Find a workout that makes you feel good and exercise with people that help build your confidence as much as your strength.

Written for ZH Pilates by Sam Dennis.