3 Tips to Overcome Exercise Apathy
What to do when you get to the gym and 
don’t feel like being there
It happens to athletes of all kinds. You get to the gym, put your gear on, and then all of a sudden you are overcome with thoughts of doing something else and things that seemed easy before are now difficult. I’ve seen guys who can do 20 pull ups with no problem come to the gym and all of a sudden, they can’t do more than just a few. It’s like all of a sudden, weights seem heavier, muscles don’t stretch as well, and you’re looking at the clock more than focusing on what you’re supposed to be doing.
First, nothing is wrong with you. You’re not sick. This is a term called exercise apathy. It’s not a medical term and there are no medications you need, but it is a huge indicator that something needs to be addressed.
When you’re learning any kind of martial art, you need mental focus when you train. In order to do things correctly, you need to complete a ton of repetitions with the right form, technique, and mindset. Remember, you are training for a situation where someone else is trying to finish you in some way or another, so you need to bring it every single time.
But I’m also a realist, life happens to all of us. Because of that, I wanted to give you a quick rundown on exercise apathy and techniques to overcome it. Keep in mind that these techniques need to be practiced like any exercise. 
Simply put, exercise apathy is a lack of interest or motivation to exercise. It happens to people just getting started as well as people who have been training for decades.
So where does it come from? It can be a variety of factors. Experts today have discovered that this feeling (apathy) can be caused by stress or external stimuli that draw your focus away from the task at hand. Did you have an argument at home that is consuming your mind? Perhaps it was a bad day at work that did not get resolved before you left? Both of those things can affect your gym performance.
On the other side, there are also physical factors that can lead to exercise apathy. Fatigue can be a factor even if you haven’t gone to the gym for the day. The tiredness and exhaustion that comes with non-workout fatigue can be caused by an illness, poor sleep, dehydration, or a lack of proper nutrition. These factors can be overcome with basic health and wellness self-care. 

If your body is ready, but your mind doesn’t want to be at the gym, or you don’t feel like going, this can be fixed. A lot of people who are going through these thoughts consciously know what the right thing to do is, they just give in to the internal voice that tells them not to do something. When that happens to you, try one of the following:
Tip #1: structure and plan your routine
One tip that has helped a lot of people is structure and planning in their routine. When we make reservations or plans, we structure our days around those plans to make sure they are fulfilled. The same goes for the gym. Having a specific time to be there with a specific routine planned out for the day makes things more methodical and easier to get through because you’ve broken it up into achievable steps that can be checked off. People have an innate desire to be successful at what they do, so turning your workout into tasks that must be achieved before you go home helps get your mind in the right place.
tip# 2: try something that scares you
Another way is to try something that scares you in the gym. I’m not saying try to lift more weights and risk getting a hernia, but if you haven’t sparred, talk to your coach. Just recently, Jon Jones was interviewed on why he moved up to heavyweight. Jones claimed that towards the end of his light heavyweight title reign he started to become complacent and felt his dedication to the sport dropping. Jones told reporters, “I stopped studying footage as much, it started to feel more like another day at the office.”
So, what did he do to break that mindset? He moved up to heavyweight to take on a whole new batch of dangerous fighters. According to Jones, his motivation was simple, “I wanted to be nervous again. I wanted to have fear again…the heavyweight division has never been scarier and I’m glad to be in the middle of it.”
The lesson here is simple. To get the motivation back, get the fear back. Haven’t rolled with a superior grappler to assess your skills? Haven’t sparred a few rounds at 80-90% effort? By putting yourself into a situation that is going to test you and possibly make you fail, brings a healthy amount of fear and anxiety. Not the kind that freezes you, but the kind that puts that quivering feeling back in your stomach and gets you working hard to avoid defeat or a poor performance. 
tip#3: meditation for motivation
Another method that works for many people is guided meditation for motivation. Meditation, like martial arts, takes time and training to get right, but just like you need to work on speed, strength, and flexibility, you need to work on mindset. For people new to meditation, there are a lot of apps out there that offer guided meditation which means there is a voice that will guide your mind and help you focus on the moment so you can get the clarity that you’re looking for.

I hope these tips help you on those days you get to the gym and you don’t want to be there. We’ve all had those days. Whether it’s because we don’t feel good, or something is going on in our lives, there is always something that tries to take away our focus. The gym is the place we go to put in the hard work it takes to be successful in combat sports, as well as life. In addition, the exercises we go through increase oxygen supplies to the brain, which allows our brains to release chemicals that can positively affect our mood, cognition, and even our overall well-being. Another reason why you need to go.
now you understand that exercise apathy is common and can affect anyone who trains on a regular basis. 
When it happens, you don’t just have to deal with it. There are many ways to overcome it, so don’t let your mind stop you from achieving your goals!
I'll see you in the next one,
-Steven Williams