Having a bad workout? You can turn it into a good one if the problem is with your mind, says personal trainer Natalie Edwards.

Sometimes when we start a workout, we might not feel like it because we’re tired or busy, but usually, it’s fine when we get warmed up and get into the swing of it. However, our minds can play tricks on us and tell us we’re tired and sluggish when fatigue may just be mental.

Natalie Edwards, home fitness and nutrition app trainer for Openfit.com, Barre Instructor and professional dancer talks about how to turn your workout around.

What tips and techniques do you have for convincing yourself that your workout will be a good one in the end?

We all can feel fatigued and low energy from time to time. Totally normal and expected on your fitness journey. When I feel like this I personally like to start with a workout that I enjoy doing. That might be a Pilates class that day or a 2 mile run. Totally dependent on my mood and I allow myself to make that choice.

What matters is that I have remained committed to myself, my intention and my goals. I think it is important to recognise fatigue and how we feel but also to practice self-discipline and remember no one ever regrets a workout. I also like to motivate myself by remembering my ‘why’. What is your why? Maybe its health goals, weight goals or you just want to get those endorphins from a workout and improve your mental health. Set an intention, set a goal and show up for yourself.

Another tip is to find a workout buddy or join an online fitness community. Sign up for a class together, schedule a time and keep each other accountable. If you are really struggling with motivation daily, maybe purchase some brand new shiny gym gear that will make you feel confident and excited to wear it.

How can you tell the difference between mental fatigue and physical?

A good way to tell the difference between the two is to ask yourself honestly how you feel and what symptoms you’re noticing. With physical fatigue, you’ll likely find it harder to perform everyday activities and tasks, like climbing the stairs or carrying groceries in from the car. Physical fatigue can result from exercising too hard, too often, so if you’re feeling drained, consider dialling back the intensity and/or frequency of your workouts—at least temporarily. Physical fatigue can also cause mental fatigue, which has more to do with a reduced ability to maintain attention and focus.

Woman working out

Mental fatigue can result from sleep deprivation, excessive stress, a heavy work schedule, or busy home life as well. Emphasising rest and recovery in your training plan—and doing your best to minimise stress in your everyday life—can help you deal with both types of fatigue.

What do you do to get yourself motivated to work out when you don’t feel like it?

Depending on my mood and schedule I do two things. Sign up for a workout that I know I love and will fill me with endorphins. I completely switch it up and challenge my body and brain with something a little out of my comfort zone. A Live running class for example – I’m outside, I’ve got the Personal Trainer in my ear giving my constant personal feedback, motivation and speed goes. That extra challenge and the unknown brings out the competitive side to me and helps me forget about why I didn’t want to work out in the first place. If that doesn’t work, I usually blast some of my favourite upbeat tunes (Beyonce), and get the good vibes flowing!