Need Workout Motivation? Find Purpose.


I spent most of my childhood in a pool. In fact, I was almost born in a pool - my mom went into labor with me while hanging out with my bro in the water. Swimming is in my DNA. I joined the neighborhood summer league when I was 6, then year-around club teams, then my high school team. I thought swimming would always be a part of my life, but as I got older I fell out of it. Other things took priority – academics, friends, partying, etc. It just didn’t hold space in my life anymore. After college, finding affordable pools in the city was hard. They aren’t as accessible for daily workouts like other forms of exercise. I stopped swimming.

A couple of years ago, I wanted to shake up my workout routine and joined the local Y to start swimming again. At first, I loved it. Getting back into the water was like going back in time: the familiarity of the strokes, the technique, the lingering smell of chlorine on my skin, the total body exhaustion. I missed it – all of it.

Despite this rekindling of my love for swimming, I got bored. Getting in cold water in an indoor pool at 6am proved daunting. Not having any friends who swam made it lonely. My excitement waned. I stopped swimming again.

But now I’m back. For the past several months, I’ve been swimming at least 2-3 days a week and pushing myself further and harder than ever. Why? What’s different? Purpose. I signed up for my first relay triathlon. My swimming now holds more meaning than just a workout. I’m training. I’m preparing for a race that involves other people who are counting on me – to practice, to push myself, to show up ready to race.

I’m not saying that you need to sign up for races or events in order to workout. Daily exercise should be a part of our routine just like brushing our teeth. However, if you’re in a workout rut and need motivation to try something new or revisit something old, put a tangible goal to it that will hold you accountable. For example, if you want to run more, sign up for a local 5k. Or if you want to do more pull ups, challenge a friend to a future competition.

Putting purpose behind your workouts (other than to be fit and healthy) is sometimes the edge you need to really see your potential. 

exerciseJulie Minchew