A Student’s Guide to Staying Motivated at the Gym

Every gym-goer has seen it before—the “gympocalypse.” The day the New Year’s resolutioners who have decided to make good on their “new year, new me” promise disrupt the normal human ecology of the gym.

Meme showing the gym empty in December but the equivalent of a wrestling ring in January

The New Year’s “Gympocalypse” | gymmemesofficial

Personally, I don’t totally mind the extra bit of presence at the gym in January. Seeing students care about their health and trying to better themselves puts quite the smile on my face. It actually saddens me to see the gym so empty again in February because it means that many people lost their fitness motivation.

So whether you’ve just recently started going to the gym or you’re looking to come back from a break, I have the perfect guide to help you stay on track with your fitness goals.

Set SMART Goals

If you’ve previously set goals for yourself and you’ve failed to reach them, then it might be time to introduce a new way of thinking. Enter SMART goals:

  1. Specific
    Simply stating that you want to get “healthier” is not enough. Think about how you plan on getting healthier. Is it losing weight? Or perhaps it’s cutting junk food from your diet?
  2. Measurable
    Quantify your goal. How are you supposed to measure progress and know when you have reached your goal if you don’t have a clear number in mind? If your goal is to lose weight, keep a specific amount in mind that you want to lose.
  3. Attainable
    Start with goals that are realistically, achievable for you. Setting goals too high, too early can make you lose motivation.
  4. Relevant
    Ask yourself if the goals you’re setting are personally relevant to your life. Do you really need to be able to box jump 50 inches if you don’t even play basketball?
  5. Time-bound
    Just like assignments, your goals should also come with their own deadlines. Give yourself time, but not so much time that you won’t want to immediately start working on your goal.

Follow a Workout Program 

A Ryerson personal trainer assisting a member with the lat pull-down exercise

Personal trainers at Ryerson can create a personalized workout program for you | Ryerson University

When you step into the gym, you should have a game-plan for what you’re going to be doing that day. That means choosing a workout program that you can be consistent with. The more times you perform a specific exercise, the more comfortable your body will be with those movements, meaning you’ll be able to gradually increase the intensity of that exercise.

If you need guidance on choosing a workout program, Ryerson’s certified personal trainers can curate a program for you based on your fitness level and goals. And of course, students get discounted pricing on personal training sessions.

Bring a Friend

Jeremy practicing a kick with his friend

Every Monday I schedule time with a few of my friends for kickboxing

Scheduling regular workouts with a friend or group can be great for those of us that need a little motivational push. You can help encourage each other to keep pushing towards your respective fitness goals. You’re also less likely to skip out on going to the gym if there’s now an attached social obligation.

Spice It Up

The Ryerson Brazilian jiu-jitsu club

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is something completely new to me which I started doing this semester | Ryerson BJJ

While it’s important to stay consistent with a workout program, sometimes you need to introduce something new to keep things from getting stale. Join a club, sign up for an intramural sport or drop-in to a group fitness class! There are dozens of activities available for you to try at Ryerson!

Buy Fitness Gear That Makes You Want to Work Out

SPC logo

A Student Price Card can save you money on fitness products and more | SPC

The saying “when you look good, you feel good,” does in fact translate to exercise. Feeling confident in what you’re wearing can be a big help in feeling more comfortable at the gym. From a functional perspective too, getting something like an adequate pair of shoes will not only help push your performance, but can also aid in keeping you injury free.

I don’t know about you, but I also have a tendency to want to immediately use the thing that I just bought. So buying those leggings or that fitness tracker can actually help keep you coming back to the gym.

If you’re looking to get deals on fitness products and more, be sure to sign-up for a Student Price Card.


I know how hard it can be as a student to stay on top of everything. It sometimes seems like an easy call for us to drop the gym in favour of work, school or extracurricular commitments. But you only get one body, and you need to take care of it. So go out there and make working out a part of your life!

Keep on lifting, friends!

— Jeremy

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