Just getting to the gym can be a workout in and of itself. Everything from your family’s busy schedule to how well you slept last night can threaten to derail you. One surprising thing that may help you stay the course: the clothes you wear.
According to a new survey of 2,000 regular gymgoers, 9 out of 10 people feel motivated to break a sweat by simply putting on their workout gear. For 79 percent, owning “good” gym clothes is a crucial step toward meeting their fitness goals.
“Confidence is half the battle, and having workout gear that highlights your hard work really helps motivate you to get your sweat on,” says Alex Hanson, co-founder of Barbell Apparel, which conducted the survey.
Your gym clothes don’t just get you to the door of your spin class. The survey found 9 out of 10 people believe performance-based wear also helps them push themselves harder.
“When we look good, we feel good, and we feel motivated to do a little more,” agrees Angie Fifer, a certified mental performance consultant and executive board member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. “When we love our exercise clothes, it also encourages us to wear them more, which means we exercise more often.”
Before you get dressed, though, you have to get off the couch.
“It takes courage, strength, determination, and simply overcoming your own mind to be successful in the gym,” says Andrew C. Barker, a certified personal trainer at Life Time Fitness in San Antonio, Texas.
Feeling tired is a trick your brain loves to play, but it doesn’t last long. “Most times, that feeling of exhaustion will leave once you start moving around with a purpose,” Barker says.
To throw off that feeling of inertia — and keep your exercise routine moving along — try these tips from the experts:
Be accountable. Just talking to others about an upcoming workout helps 33 percent of survey respondents actually stick to it. Post a pic of your yoga mat on Instagram, tell friends the time of your upcoming CrossFit class, or at the very least, schedule a workout on your calendar. “We’re more likely to stick to a routine when we have it written down,” says Fifer.
Don’t do it alone. The survey found 34 percent of people find group classes and their “we’re in this together” mindset encouraging. (And another 11 percent admit that having a crush on a fellow gymgoer helps them show up and work out.) You can also find a virtual buddy — someone who’s working toward their fitness goals and wants to connect with you online. “Checking in together can help you follow through,” Fifer says.
Make a playlist. Thirty-nine percent of gymgoers swear that their favorite tunes get them in the right frame of mind to exercise. (And over half of gymgoers consider music vital.)
Set yourself up for success. Nearly half of survey respondents say they prep before a workout by drinking lots of water or eating a healthy meal. You can also set out your workout clothes the night before a morning workout, or bring gear with you to work so you don’t come home first and get derailed, suggests Fifer.
Expect to fall off the wagon. Or, well, treadmill. “Many times, we fall into life, and making it to the gym gets put at the bottom of our ‘to-do’ list,” says Barker. When — not if — this happens to you, show yourself some compassion. Set new goals that excite you, or re-establish old ones. Start back slowly so you don’t overdo it and hurt yourself. And, of course, it can’t hurt to get motivated by buying some new gym gear.
Remember: “Your fitness isn’t a result of what you do today. It’s the culmination of what you’re willing to do every day,” says Hanson. “At the end of the day, those who get the best results are rarely the most talented, but almost always the most motivated.”
Check out the top 15 things the survey found that keep people coming back to the gym:
- Seeing results in their body: 58.7 percent
- Putting on gym clothes: 58.2 percent
- Drinking a lot of water: 46.3 percent
- Going with a partner: 44.8 percent
- Eating a healthy lunch: 43.3 percent
- Setting achievable goals: 40.2 percent
- Listening to a psych-up playlist: 38.8 percent
- Joining a class at their gym: 34.3 percent
- Working out in the morning: 33.8 percent
- Eating a healthy snack beforehand: 33.6 percent
- Talking about going: 33.0 percent
- Eating a healthy breakfast: 32.5 percent
- Telling your partner you’re going: 32.1 percent
- Being able to track your progress: 32.0 percent
- Telling a colleague you’re going: 29.7 percent