Hate Exercise? Here's what to do about it

By: Hayley

So burpees aren’t your cup of tea? You’re not alone in that one, as a personal trainer, when I say the word ‘burpee’ clients usually react as if I’ve just sworn at them… But what if it’s not just burpees? What if you’ve tried and tried, but you just don’t like exercise? Like any exercise? How do you stay healthy, live longer, be able to do what you want to in life, if exercise just isn’t your jam?

Personally, exercise has always been a part of my life. It’s what makes me happy, it’s part of who I am, it relieves stress and improves how I act towards myself and other people!

Sure, there are days when I don’t feel like exercising… many days in fact! But over time I’ve built the habit of planning exercise into my day, and when I don’t feel like it, I just start anyway, because I know once I get going I’ll be happier for it! 

So as a personal trainer, I used to be a bit stumped when clients told me ‘I just hate exercising’. I thought, ‘well you can’t possibly hate ALL exercise’. 

I came to realise it was how people categorised it in their mind. If an activity was thought of as that dirty word – ‘exercise’ – it just became another chore to get done in the day, not something in any way enjoyable, just something that needed to be done! 

So now you want me to tell you the perfect solution, right? If you don’t like exercise, here’s the secret to changing your mind…

Well I’m sorry to say there is no secret! For every person I have ever trained, their attitude is unique, and their reasons for wanting to exercise are their own! So their solution is going to be different to the next person.

But I do have a few suggestions that can turn that exercise-induced frown upside down!


Just Move

First of all, stop seeing exercise as something you have to do.

Think about movement rather than exercise. How much am I going to move today? Then tomorrow I’ll move a little more. And a little more the day after that, and so on.

Your body will benefit from any and all movement you do, so don’t overthink it, don’t feel like you have to get it ‘right’, just start moving in any way that works for you.


Associate your movement time with something good. For example; I get to take a break from work this afternoon to move! Or I get some time to listen to a podcast or audiobook while I run! I get some alone time, I get to switch off from stress and worries going on in my life, or I get to actually leave the house (one of the only reasons we can right now if you’re with me in Melbourne lockdown!) Think of the time as an opportunity to do something you want to do, then the sneaky dreaded ‘exercise’ is just happening in the background!

self defence 2

The 5 minute rule

This one works for SO many things in life. Based on the premise that getting started is always the hardest part.

Problem: “I don’t want to clean the kitchen”. 

Solution: Give yourself FIVE MINUTES where you will start cleaning the kitchen. Tell yourself if after that 5 minutes, if you want to stop, you can. Chances are, 99% of the time, you will keep going well past that 5 minutes! (And if you don’t keep going, well, the kitchen is still slightly cleaner than it was 5 minutes ago!)

Problem: “I don’t want to go for a run/walk”.

Solution: Go for a FIVE MINUTE run or walk. If you want to stop after that 5 minutes, stop. No worries. But you know what I’m going to say… The chances of you stopping are slimmer than the chances that you keep on running!

Find your favourite

Try to find a type of exercise that you don’t hate. It is possible for everyone, I promise!

If you’re someone that currently doesn’t do any exercise, don’t start with hour-long strength workouts! Don’t start by following someone else’s running program if you hate running. Don’t feel like you have to do HIIT workouts just because someone told you it’s the best way to burn fat. Don’t force yourself to do the things you hate (not yet, anyway). First find something that you enjoy. It might be dancing! Whatever it is, if you enjoy it, you’re going to find it easier to do more often. You use this enjoyable movement to build the habit of daily exercise. Once you’ve started to ingrain the habit, then you can start trying more things you don’t like so much. Just add them bit by bit, and if they start working – great! If not, try something else. Quitting isn’t failing, it’s just recognising what works for you and what doesn’t, and moving on to the next thing!

Track your progress

This doesn’t need to be too technical. A simple step tracker is really motivating to start tracking your movement each day, and gradually build it up. Tracking your resting heart rate is also a great motivator, as we know lowering your resting HR is a good marker of health and fitness improvements. A ‘mood check-in’ each day is very beneficial for tracking the effect of exercise on your mental wellbeing – this can be done easily by yourself or using an app. Usually it’s a simple rating of 1-5 on how stressed you feel, how well rested you feel, how emotional you feel.

Try tracking any of these metrics and see if that helps motivate you each day to move more! If you have a weight loss goal, this can be more helpful than trying to track your weight, because often you’ll start to see improvements in these metrics before you see any physical change in your body, and you’ll be focusing on your general wellbeing rather than just a number on the scales.


Embrace the struggle

My honest advice: sometimes you gotta just make yourself get sh*t done!

The harder something is to do, the better and more accomplished you feel when you’ve done it. 

So as much as I truly believe in enjoying exercise as much as possible, there will also be times where you’ve got to say: I know this isn’t gonna be fun, but I’m gonna get it done anyway! Embrace that challenge in front of you, put up a fight, and you will feel so great about it afterwards. Trust me, the best high is when you finish a workout that you really did not want to do, but you’re so glad you did!


As I mentioned, what works for you will be different to someone else. It all starts with understanding WHY you want to exercise – and this will be a personal motivation that only you can decide. When you know your Why, you can use all the tips mentioned above to help you start exercising and build habits to make it a part of your life, because you want to, not because you have to. 


Need some help finding your why? Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you!