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10 Tips to Fool Yourself Into Getting Fit

How to trick yourself into exercising when you'd rather skip it

By Linda Melone | March 4, 2014

On days when it seems impossible to make it through your to-do list, the motivation to get on a treadmill or take a yoga class may simply not be there. But what if you could “trick” yourself into getting active?

We polled top trainers for their best stealthy tips to get their clients moving on days when they’d rather skip it. Here's what they said:
 
1. Just show up. Go to the gym at a time you know they offer classes and just do whatever class is going on at that time, says Tom Holland, a Connecticut-based running coach and author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets--Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag.

(MORE: 5 Ways to Sneak Exercise Into Your Daily Routine)

“If it’s cycling, do cycling. If it’s Zumba, do that. Either way, pretend it’s your favorite class and you’ll make it that way,” says Holland. It’s a great way to keep your interest and motivation up and also guarantees you’re working different muscles each time.
 
2. Pretend you live in the dark ages. This may hit especially close to home for those who lost electricity during the recent winter’s storms, but imagine you don’t have electricity, says Holland. “Don’t use anything that requires power.” Take the stairs instead of using the elevator, walk to your co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email and hop on that dusty stationary bike instead of watching TV at night.

3. Give yourself an “out.” Instead of walking for a certain distance or length of time, tell yourself you’ll walk to a mailbox or down the street and back, but that’s it. “When you start walking, you’ll likely keep going,” says Holland. Another version of this trick: tell yourself you’ll exercise for “just 10 minutes.” Chances are you’ll do more.
 
4. Listen to your workout playlist. You know how certain songs remind you of certain occasions in your life? Take advantage of that experience and get pumped up by listening to a few of your favorite workout tunes before you hit the gym or class. “You will associate the song with exercise, which will make you more likely to want to grab your workout clothes,” says Lisa Kinder, the instructor of the workout video 10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training.
 
5. Work out with someone more motivated than you. A workout partner helps to hold you accountable when you lack the initiative to get off the couch — but this only works if the other person is more motivated than you, says Holland. “It’s also best to exercise with someone slightly fitter than you. Just make sure they’re not too fit or it can end up being frustrating for you and them,” he adds.
 
6. Go on walking meetings and active dates. Instead of sit-down meetings, schedule walking meetings whenever possible to get a little cardio in with your business dealings.

Same for meeting up with friends or going on dates, says Jesse Irizarry, a suburban New York City strength and conditioning coach. Schedule activity dates. Instead of lunch or dinner, go hiking, biking or even rock climbing if your partner is the adventuresome type," he says. “Doing an activity together also helps prevent awkward first-date silences.”

(MORE: 4 Ways to Turn Your Walk Into a Workout)
 
7. Take your gym clothes to the office. If you work out after work, stopping home to change or pack your gear often leads to sitting on the couch, which turns into watching TV and skipping your exercise time altogether. “Eliminate the temptation by bringing your gym clothes with you to work,” says Irizarry. Better yet, keep your gym bag packed and ready to go at all times with clean workout clothes and travel-size toiletries for washing up afterward.
 
8. Blast out your intentions on social networks. By making a public declaration that you are going to work out 'X' amount of times for 'X' amount of weeks, your friends will call you out on it if you don’t follow through. “It will also make you feel lazy and like a liar if you don't do it,” says Irizarry.
 
9. Leave reminders around the house. It’s hard to ignore them when they’re in front of you all day, says Douglas Velasquez, a health fitness specialist at Nifty after Fifty, a chain dedicated to exercisers over 50.

Leave fitness magazines on the coffee table or fitness videos on top of your Blu-ray or video player, for example. Posters with inspirational quotes hung in your workout room can also help motivate you.

(MORE: How to Fit Physical Activities Into a Busy Daily Grind)
 
10. Watch commercials. Instead of fast-forwarding through commercials when viewing recorded shows, use those minutes to take workout breaks, says Karissa Pearce, a personal trainer at Performance Efficiency in New York City. “

Make it a game," she says. "During the commercial breaks, set a number of repetitions for bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, push ups, jumping jacks and planks. Try to increase this number as you get stronger, even if it is one exercise at a time.”

Next Avenue contributor Linda Melone is a California-based freelance writer specializing in health, fitness and wellness for women over 50.

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