4 tips for exercising during the holidays from pro fitness trainers

Keep your workout routine going strong this holiday season.

Mercey Livingston CNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
Mercey Livingston
4 min read

Fitness trainers share how they keep their clients motivated through the holiday season.

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Making it to the gym to exercise every day can be a challenge, and even the most dedicated gym-goers can find it hard during the busy holiday season. Between holiday parties, shopping, travel and entertaining, it can feel impossible to make the time to break away to workout
If this sounds familiar to you, the good news is it's not impossible to fit in a workout during the holiday season. We all know that exercising has a long list of benefit. It can help you feel more energized, less stressed and overall better during all of the holiday craziness. So how do you stay motivated to keep up your routine and not ditch your workouts all together until after the New Year?
The tips below are from top fitness trainers who help clients stay motivated year round -- even in the midst of the holiday season. Below, they share the advice and strategies that they've seen help clients IRL stick to their routines and stay fit and healthy through the holidays. Hopefully you'll find a strategy that works for you too. 
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How to have a stress-free holiday season

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Set specific goals

Setting clear, attainable goals is one way to make sure you're getting in your workouts each week. If you set a specific goal (like be able to run a 5K by Dec. 31) then you know you have to start breaking that bigger goal into smaller action items. And don't forget to ask yourself why you want to achieve this goal in the first place. 

"For most of my clients, I have them determine what their "why" is. Knowing why they're in the gym at 6 a.m., for example, or completing a session after a long day of work is vital. Your goal or "why" should keep you motivated through distracting times like the holidays," Kevin Mejia, a founding trainer at the Dogpound gym. Torre Washington, trainer and Centr expert agrees. "A lot of times, we'll start out with that lack of motivation, but if you think back to the purpose and why you're doing this, that should kick-start you to keep going."


Whatever your fitness end goal is, define it now so that you can stay motivated to work towards it.

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And your goal doesn't have to be big (like running a race) -- it can be something as simple as to work out three days a week for 30 minutes. "You don't have to go crazy -- but just maintain enough consistency to get you through the days away from your regular routine," Mejia said.

Plan your workouts in advance 

You're less likely to skip a workout if you've already set aside the time in your calendar for it. Most fitness studios require you to book classes in advance, and if you cancel you get charged a late-cancel fee (even more of a reason not to skip your workout!). 

"Fitness is all about consistency and it can be challenging during the holiday season. That's why planning and booking your classes in advance is so important," Megan Roup, trainer and founder of The Sculpt Society says. "Planning will allow you to relax, knowing you've got your workout scheduled in and you don't have to overthink the day of." 

Even if you don't workout at a fitness studio where you will be charged a late-cancel fee, try adding your own accountability factor, like by asking a friend to join you. This way you're less likely to cancel or back out if you're feeling unmotivated. "Grab a friend or a work colleague and make a date out of it. Having a fitness buddy holds you accountable and makes the experience even better," Roup said.

Read more: The best monthly workout streaming subscriptions

It's OK to keep it short and simple


You don't have to work out for an hour -- shorter workouts are just as effective.

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Sometimes we have this idea that a workout doesn't "count" unless you spend an entire hour at the gym and leave sweaty and exhausted. But that's just not the case. Anything "counts" as exercise as long as it has you moving and gets your heart rate up. Doing a few smaller sessions throughout the day can even add up to a full workout if you're pressed for time. Rather than trying to fit in an hour-long class into your busy schedule, try doing a simple 20-minute body weight workout instead.

"You can get a great workout in 20 minutes and if you stick to bodyweight exercises you can do them anywhere. Staying motivated is all about seeing results and the way you see results is by staying consistent," Luke Zocchi, trainer and expert with Centr said. 

Try the '5-minute rule'

When squeezing in a workout in your day feels really daunting, try the "5-minute rule." It's what trainer and Centr expert, Tiffany Hall swears by when she's feeling unmotivated. "When I don't feel like training, I call upon my five-minute rule," Hall said. 

Committing to do five minutes of activity feels way less intimidating than an hour. And often, the first five minutes of a workout is the hardest part. "Just do five minutes. Your body wants to move even if you don't want to. Once you get started, you'll start feeling it. The endorphins will kick in and you'll love it."

Watch this: The best fitness gifts to give this holiday season

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.