The Studio Edit

How to stay motivated for a hard workout

Results Driven Fitness

May 21, 2024

Anna & Nicole


This is a list of exactly what is going through my head during a hard workout. This did not come naturally, I had to train my brain to go to this place during my workout. 

Your body’s automatic response when things get hard is to pull back. Our brains and bodies want to protect us. Our biology hasn’t caught up to the fact that when we are doing a hard workout we are not in danger, or for example,  running from a lion. 

Workouts for me are a way of safely putting myself in an uncomfortable situation, so that my brain and body can learn to support me, not work against me, when life gets challenging. 

Before I work out I like to come up with a reason I’m doing the workout. In yoga they call it an “intention,” and for me, this intention changes everyday. The intention can be anything, to show up for myself like I do for others, to show myself how strong I am, to honor my edge if I feel tired and build trust with myself, or to just get through a class with intentional breathing. It can be anything, but I have found that having a reason for your workout always helps me push myself harder. 

I’m sharing a few cues I’ve collected from incredible teachers over the years and ones that have come up in my own practice. 

Once you’re set up for success, choose a couple of your favorite cues, and try saying it to yourself during your next challenging workout. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me! I’ve found that doing things with purpose is always going to feel better. 

  • If I had to hold this position for someone I loved, could I do it? Absolutely. Then do it for them.
  • How you show up to this challenge is a metaphor for how you show up in life. Show yourself you’re in control of your actions and choices.
  • No one you look up to is sitting on their ass everyday. If you want something, work for it.
  • Notice when things get hard, where does your brain go? Can you breathe through it? Are you able to relax the muscles that aren’t needed right now like your jaw, your shoulders, the space between your eyebrows. Can you instead see what muscles you can ask to show up for you. Can you engage your core a little more, can your hamstrings help you, how can your body show up? 
  • What are you grateful for? I think of all the amazing people, animals, experiences, foods, anything that I’m grateful for and all of a sudden some time has passed.
  • Can I relax anywhere on my body that isn’t working…example: in between the eyebrows, corners of the mouth, back of the shoulders, etc.
  • If I can’t show up for something that I’m choosing to do, how do I expect to fully show up for others?
  • How lucky am I that I get to feel this feeling. Some people can’t exercise, some people will never know endorphins, and I get them everyday.
  • You are lucky to be feeling this discomfort. I would miss this if it were taken from me.
  • You can do anything for 20 minutes. Use this as motivation to push yourself a little harder, to make each rep really count. If you have anything left, give it now. 
  • You know you can do hard things, prove it to yourself again. 
  • Close your eyes and get into your body. Feel the sensations. Scan your body, and notice. The places you feel sensation represent growth and your body changing.

I hope you found something, or a few things, in this list that resonated. Just like working out, it takes time and practice to get your brain to be on your side during a workout. Use these cues to help you stay in a pose a little longer, or to have grace with yourself when you need take rest. They say this in yoga all the time, but the hardest part of a workout is showing up, if you do that you’re half way there! 

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