Pt. 1:Working Out When You Don't Want to Work Out

Updated: Feb 12

Ugh, I reeeeally don't want to go to the gym. I don’t feel like working out today. Those were my thoughts when I woke up.

It’s a cold Sunday in February and all I really want to do is curl up under three blankets and binge some Netflix. It’s the kind of day where you ask yourself “is food really that important,” because even though there is a grocery store near steps from your apartment, getting off the couch makes the journey to the food, let alone cook the food, feel like a trek up the Himalaya’s.

Pictured: I trekked the Himalayan Mountain Range in 2014

I don’t want to work out today. But around mid-morning I grumble to myself while putting on my lulus, tossing on a couple of extra layers to walk the 15 minutes to the gym.

When I get to the gym, it’s like I’m walking in a pool of 100% pure Canadian maple syrup (you guys' don't still eat Aunt Jemima's, do you? Warning: we cannot be friends if you do). My movements feel slower, more difficult than usual. My energy is low, and immediately I think to myself this is a write-off. I don’t feel like working out today. I already knew that. Maybe I should have believed myself and stayed home.

I hop on the Stairmaster, and after those 2 minutes of self repeating "oh man this is awful", I think, well, at least I'm here. This 90's Hip Hop playlist on Spotify is keeping me going.

As blood and Tupac's lyrics coarse through my veins, I find myself unconsciously livening up as I increase the speed on the machine. I’m starting to breathe harder now. I can start to feel sweat clinging to my tank top. My legs are starting to burn.

I hop off to grab a paper towel and sanitizer and I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I'm dripping in sweat, breathing heavy, walking tall and proud. It makes me smile.

This Sunday morning workout very nearly didn’t happen. But after a mere 30 minutes, I was feeling alive and having fun - as much fun as a person can have on a Stairmaster. When I walked out of the gym 45 minutes later, the frigid air I agonized before felt soothing against my flushed skin.

So, what do you do when you have that "I don't wanna workout" attitude?

It’s easy to look at the story I just told and take away a simple piece of advice: don’t want to exercise? Too bad. Tough it up. Make yourself. You’ll feel better after.

Honestly, I don’t think that’s the most important lesson of this story and there is a better lesson to be taught.

On the surface, the story says, “do it anyway.” But looking a little bit deeper, there are two important pieces of information missing:

1. I never work out on the weekend.

2. I have been consistently working out 5 days a week for about 8 years.

This information adds new layers of meaning. This isn’t the typical story of someone who usually struggles to find the motivation to work out. This is a story about me not wanting to work out when this is usually not a problem.

Chances are you've worked out before. So you know that once you've committed to a workout regime, the first few workouts isn’t the hard part, right? It gets hard in the days, weeks, and months that follow when you go to work out even when you don’t want to exercise.

And if you don’t have the right systems in place or a trainer to keep you accountable it’s hard to do that. Even when you do have one, you'll be challenged to get yourself there from time to time.

You may find yourself thinking, “I don’t feel like working out today.” So you don’t. And you still make it back to the gym for your next workout or your next personal training session. No problem.

But at some point, the days where you say “I don’t feel like working out today” or “I don’t want to exercise” become more frequent and you keep making excuses...well that's when we have a problem.

If you want to reach your fitness goals and work out consistently, you need to develop a true workout habit. Fine-tune your self-discipline. And if you want to be able to work out even on the days when Netflix beckons, come back tomorrow for Pt. 2 of “Working out When You Don’t Want to Work Out.” I’m going to talk all about tangible tactics you can use when these days inevitably happen.

P.S, if you live in the Vancouver area and are in search of a personal trainer, email me at

‘Commit to be Fit’

Chelsea Ellacott