10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Work Out During the Winter

Local fitness experts and athletes offer their secrets to staying on track when temperatures dip.

It's tough to stay motivated to workout when the temperatures dip. Experts recommend finding a workout buddy or trying a new fitness class to stay on track. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Confession: Last week I ditched working out four days in a row. Why? It was cold out.

Pathetic, I know. But the blustery winds and lack of sunlight have really hit me hard this year. And sitting on my couch in sweatpants with a cup of tea—okay fine, a glass of wine—just seemed so much more appealing than running in the dark.

After my brief break, I still needed that extra push to get back on track, so I asked some local pros how they stay motivated to hit the gym during the winter months. Read on for their tips, and add your own motivational advice in the comments section.

1) Warm up inside
“Before putting on your cold-weather layers, get some active stretches in,” recommends personal trainer CJ Cross of FitBase. Some leg swings, butt kicks, or jumping jacks before your run or workout will get the blood flowing to your muscles and joints as well as reduce your chance of injury. 

2) Go on a workout date
Almost every expert I consulted said having a workout buddy is a foolproof way to stay on track. “Knowing I have someone to meet makes my workout way more fun and means I can’t bail—win-win,” says Anne Mauney, a registered dietitian and runner

3) Try a new workout
DC Fit Crasher Meaghan Stakelin staves off boredom by trying a different workout every week. “Find a fitness class that sounds fun and try incorporating it into your workout once a week as a special treat to look forward to,” she suggests. 

4) Think of your wallet
Don’t let those classes you signed up for go to waste. “If you pay $20 to $30 for a class, you may be a little bit more motivated to make it to class since you know you have a double whammy—your waistline and your pocket book,” says Anne Mahlum, owner of Solidcore

5) Keep a journal
Remember how awesome you felt after boot camp? How all of your stress melted away after three miles? Keep a personal log of it in a notebook immediately after your workout. Flip through the book to remind yourself why you should get to the gym.

6) Post on social media
Mahlum says telling your followers and friends you’re going to exercise “keeps you accountable in a very public way.” According to the American Council on Exercise’s health coach manual, support from family and friends is key to maintaining an exercise regimen.

7) Buy new gear
“I always buy new workout sneakers and gym clothes this time of year,” says personal trainer Chris Perrin. “Something about new swag makes getting out the door and hitting the gym a lot easier.” (Check out our guide to new cold-weather fitness gear for your best bets.) 

8) Make a spring fitness goal
Spend your winter training for your first half marathon or sprint triathlon. Whatever your fitness goal, Stakelin says, “sometimes an impending deadline is just the motivation you need to get going.”

9) Invest in home gym equipment
If you really can’t bear the cold, have some simple workout gear available at home. Check out this roundup of great workout DVDs for suggestions; I’m also a big fan of the Nike Training Club app, which offers hundreds of workouts for various fitness levels. 

10) Treat yourself
Did you conquer the cold? Go ahead and treat yourself. Cross recommends bringing a big thermos filled with a warm drink to your workout. “Bring enough to share, and you’ll be the most popular person in your run club during cool-down,” he says.

Got your own tips? Share them in the comments section!