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How to motivate yourself to exercise in this cold, dark weather

You’re not the only one struggling to make your gym classes right now


Struggling to maintain the exercise routine you managed to perfect in the summer months? You’re not alone. Getting yourself into the gym or heading out for a run on cold dark mornings and evenings takes a lot more motivation than it might do in July.

We asked some of London’s top fitness gurus how they stay in shape when the temperature drops and the days just keep getting shorter.

Have the right kit

“There is no such thing as bad weather, there are just bad clothing choices,” Zanna Van Dijk, the personal trainer and fitness blogger says. “If you are heading outdoors then you should invest in some good quality winter activewear. I mean thermal leggings, gloves, headbands – the lot! It makes outdoor training much more comfortable and reduces the risk of catching a chill.”

And it’s not just if you’re training outside. Even if you’re just in the gym, investing in some new workout gear can really help with your motivation. “I always find buying some new, bright kit gets me motivated,” the Balance Festival ambassador Corey Wharton-Malcolm says. “It’s hard not to take a new pair of trainers for a spin, or show off your new kit in the gym.”

Make a plan you have to stick to

“Just as with most things, setting out a plan to your goals is a great way to stay motivated,” the Psycle and Equinox trainer Tameka Small says. “Instead of waiting for New Year’s resolutions, start now to set those goals. Whether it’s to feel better about yourself, change your body or even just de-stress. Once those goals are set, create a plan to get there even if it’s just adding the workouts into your calendar – it’ll give those sessions more importance.”

Van Dijk agrees: “Schedule in your workouts, write them in your diary and pretend it’s a doctor’s appointment you can’t miss”.

Stay inside

Cold weather outside does not mean you can’t exercise, even if you don’t have a gym membership. “You can easily workout in your very own home with just your own bodyweight,” Van Dijk says. “Free workouts can be found on Youtube that need no equipment.” Plus, remember that no journey to a gym means extra time in bed.

Book a class or join a club

It is arguably the best time ever to be a fitness fanatic in London right now with so many fun and interesting classes at our disposal. Not only will heading to a barre or hot yoga class seem much more appealing than running along a cold road, but – as Van Dijk says – “the cancellation fee is great motivation to get you there on time!”

However, if you are a runner at heart and don’t fancy classes, try joining a club instead to help motivate you. “I would honestly recommend joining a running group and let something other than the running motivate you,” Wharton-Malcolm says. “Making new friends, meeting old ones or setting group goals – it really helps to keep you motivated.”

Buddy up

Just as with joining a club, agreeing to exercise with a friend gives you an incentive (other than exercise) to do something active. “Motivating yourself through these dark months can be tough, so think about buddying up with a friend,” Small says. “It will help change your perspective of working out to something a little more enjoyable and sociable.” It’s also much more difficult to cancel on a friend than to just decide not to go yourself.

Remind yourself why it’s important

In those moments when you have to climb out of a warm, cosy bed and head into the cold, it can be difficult to remember how great you will feel afterwards. “Exercising on those dark cold days will actually help boost your body’s ‘feel good’ endorphins to help blast away those winter blues,” Small says. “Exercising has been found to boost your body’s serotonin, norepinephrine and stress response to help induce a natural state of calm leading into the hectic festive period. That’s motivation enough.”

But most importantly, be kind to yourself and your body

“It’s much harder to stay motivated when you don’t take enough time to relax and recover, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish,” Small explains. “When you get back from a fitness session, treat yourself to a nice mug of hot cocoa and a long hot bath with some salts to soothe tired and aching muscles. Also, it’s very important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep.”