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How to force yourself to go to the gym

Use technology to force -- er, motivate -- your workouts.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

I get it -- hitting the gym before or after a long workday is difficult. Difficult enough that you probably don't do it nearly as often as you'd like (read: never).

But if pure willpower can't motivate you, what can? Money and shame, of course!

Here's how you can use technology to force yourself to get your workouts in -- even when the couch is calling your name.

1. Make a Pact

Pact (Android, iOS), formerly GymPact, is an app that rewards you for hitting the gym, counting calories, and eating your veggies. If you hit your goals in Pact, you earn money each week. But where does that money come from? Oh, right -- from all the people who didn't hit their goals that week. Because if you don't go to the gym, or log your food in MyFitnessPal, or upload enough photos of yourself chomping down a salad, you have to pay Pact a penalty fee. So if money is what motivates you either way, Pact is definitely worth a look.

2. Use social networks to keep you accountable

If you'd rather not put your money on the line, because you know you'll fail, you can try a less scary way of staying accountable -- Facebook (or Twitter, or the social network of your choice). Set up an IFTTT recipe with the location channel on your mobile device (Android, iOS) so that when you enter your gym, IFTTT posts a Facebook status update or a tweet that tells your friends and followers that you're definitely working out right now.

Here's an IFTTT recipe I made for iOS users:

IFTTT Recipe: If I go to the gym, create a Facebook status that says I'm totally working out. connects ios-location to facebook

3. Make use of your activity tracker

If you're not going to go to the gym, you should at least be getting your 10,000 steps in, right? IFTTT connects with lots of activity trackers, including Fitbit, Misfit, Nike+, Jawbone Up and Withings. So instead of updating your Facebooks status about gym visits, create a recipe that sends out a social networking update when you hit your daily movement goals. There are a few options -- here are a couple I created for the Misfit Shine:

IFTTT Recipe: If daily goal achieved, update Facebook status with celebratory message. connects misfit to facebookIFTTT Recipe: If daily goal not achieved by 11:59 PM, update Facebook status to reflect FAILURE. connects misfit to facebook

The nice thing (or perhaps, the not-so-nice thing) about fitness trackers is that they can update your status if you don't hit your daily goal. To shame you.