6 Ways to Find Work Out Motivation in College

When I started college, I thought what most new students think- New school, new me! Of course, that meant meeting new people, exploring new hobbies, finding the motivation to work out (and we all know work out motivation is hard to come by), etc. The options were endless because you now had an opportunity to do all these things. Before college, there was always a set schedule- 8-4 you’re in classes, then you go home and do homework. In college, you get to set the tone of your day. Want to mainly take night classes? Go ahead! More of an early riser? Take that 7 am Psych class!

The one thing that always seemed to fall between the cracks is working out. There was no work out motivation for me. My school and an on campus gym- as pretty much all schools do. However, it was really small and barely had enough equipment. Sometimes the basketball guys would be working out and then there goes your work out because they’ve taken over the whole gym (it was that small!). Staying motivated was hard, and can be hard.

They say it takes at least a month to start a new habit. Here are my top tips on keeping that motivation and becoming the best you physically .



Okay, some of you may say… why is this number one on the list? Well, my friends, let’s be honest here. When we look good, we feel good, and that in turn leads us to feel more motivated! One of the first things I did when I started working out was get some cute work out clothes. It doesn’t mean spending hundreds at Lululemon (no shame in that though!), but buying some pants and tops that make you feel your best when you work out. A few of my favorite places to get workout gear is Target, Adidas, and TJ Maxx (because who doesn’t love discounted Nike and Adidas).


This is so important! Working out is just like every other thing you do in your life. If you don’t make a goal, what are you working towards? When I first started working out, I assumed if I saw the pounds drop, that meant it was working. After talking with a personal trainer, he showed me that lbs don’t prove anything. Here are a few ways to track your progress


Instead of weighing myself, I would measure. I started by measuring the circumference of my legs, arms, hips, waist, chest, and neck. I wrote those numbers down, then every month, I would re-measure those areas. Even though my weight stayed the same, the the measurements decreased. I was losing fat, but gaining muscle, which meant yes my weight would be the same, but I was gaining something better in place of what I had. For reference, I’m about 140 lbs, but the weight it mainly in my hips and thighs. If measuring isn’t your thing, take photos! Same outfit, same position, different body!

Mile Times

Ever since high school when they made me do mile runs every week in PE, I wanted to like running, but never did. Even though they were never my favorite things to do, I still continued to run after leaving high school. Seeing my mile time go from 12 minutes to 10, and now 8 minutes is possibly one of the best feelings. So, if you’re a runner, time your miles! Compete with yourself and tell yourself, “Okay, I ran 12 minutes this time. Next time I’ll make it 11:30.”

Lbs in Weights

I never had much upper body strength. I could barely carry anything above 10 lbs for a while because I never did any upper body work outs. My main focus was always my butt and my thighs, so why would I do much on top? Of course that thinking was wrong! Focusing on the whole body helps the whole body, so never focus on one area specifically. Strength training is one of my favorite work outs. I started with 10 lbs and increased weights slowly every two weeks. I know can carry about 40 lbs, push/pull 125 lbs, and pull up 60 lbs. It’s interesting to see the progress and seeing the muscles grow in your arms is pretty fun!


If you keep pushing your body with no rewards, it’s not much fun. So for me, ice cream is my weakness. I told myself that if I work out at least four days a week, I can reward myself at the end of the week with a cup of ice cream. I typically eat healthy throughout the week, so indulging in a cup of ice cream (coffee flavor is my favorite!) doesn’t hurt my progress.

Something to always keep in mind is- “is this reward going to hinder my progress?” If you know it will, find a different reward! Another reward could be buying yourself yoga pants that are a little more pricier than you would usually pay or buying yourself some new workout shoes.


Eating healthy was always really hard for me. If I’m being honest, it still is (Hello Chick-Fil-A french fries, can I have you everyday?). But after starting college and having to “fend for myself” since my mom wasn’t there 24/7 feeding me breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and after going through that phase pretty much all freshmen go through (hello freshmen fifteen), I stopped and took a good look at my eating habits. I found spots I could change out, like instead of eating rice or pasta everyday, I’d grab a salad for lunch. Instead of a pop tart for breakfast, I would boil an egg the night before and then eat that in the morning. It’s a hard start, but once you do it, the difference in how you feel will motivate you even more to continue this health kick!


One of my current best friends actually started as a gym buddy in high school. We didn’t have much classes together, only PE, but we would keep each other motivated. She helped me bring down my mile time after high school. She pushed me to go to the gym on days I really didn’t want to go. Now, we’re eating buddies, shopping buddies, gym buddies, etc. She’s my best friend! So get yourself someone you know that will keep you motivated and that you can motivate! Believe me, even if you don’t work out together doing the same things, just seeing each other there or driving to the gym together is a game changer.


When I first started going to the gym, it was always an on and off thing, whenever I felt like going I would. When you first start out, let’s be honest, you don’t feel like going often. Neither did I! So I didn’t. I maybe went once or a twice a week, if even. However, by signing up for work out classes that my campus had, or pre-packing my workout clothes and having them with me, I felt accountable to actually work out. Holding yourself accountable will make that first month so much easier! So, if you have to, sign yourself up for different classes! If you already pre- sign yourself up, you’re less likely to skip it.


These are just 6 of my tips to stay motivated to work out while you’re in (or out) of college! What are your tips/tricks to working out and keeping the motivation alive? Leave them in the comments below!

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