The Trick That Gave Me My Best Workout Ever

POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone
POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone

Let's start by getting one thing straight: I'm competitive, especially with myself. I'm the girl who has spent one too many evenings walking in circles around my apartment just trying to break 12,000 steps on my Fitbit (I know, it's ridiculous). Though a competitive streak sometimes gets a bad rap, it can actually be a great motivator for me to get my sh*t together when I'm slacking off.

Case in point: the other day, I attended an event held at Peloton, a trendy NYC cycling studio. The amazing thing about Peloton is that each sleek (is sexy an appropriate word to use here?) bike is equipped with a high-tech screen that keeps track of your speed, RPM, and energy output, plus lists a ranking of everyone's performance in the class.

Our instructor, who was the perfect mix of motivational coach and Kreayshawn, began the class, and as I started to get in the groove, I looked down to find myself down in ninth place. Oh no, not OK. With each hill and sprint I touched the resistance up just a tiny bit and watched as I began to rise through the rankings. My legs burned and sweat poured awkwardly off of my nose, chin, and forehead, but I kept my sights on the first-place spot. The 45-minute class whipped by me in a Beyoncé-tuned blur, and I reached the end to find I had snuck my way up through the ranks to sit in second place. Sure, I didn't come out on top, but I was still elated to see how far I had come by simply adding tiny bits of speed and resistance along the way — in the moment I couldn't even feel the difference.

So what's the moral of my tale? If I were to TL;DR my entire story, here's what it all boils down to: a little competition never hurts (as long as you don't take it too far!). So here are a few ways you can up your motivation and push yourself just a little bit further on your own trips to the gym — no leaderboard needed:

  • Set microgoals: If you dread treadmill workouts, commit to a quick 10 minutes. Once you hit 10, challenge yourself to get to 15. Soon you will find the time has breezed by.
  • Beat your last pace: Whether you're jumping on a bike or doing your barbell reps, keep track of your record and work to beat it. Knowing that you've accomplished something before will help you move forward.
  • Make a date: If you're having a hard time fitting in your workout, grab a buddy and make a date (maybe put a dollar down on it too!). The idea of letting your partner down will help you from bailing at the last minute.
  • Reward yourself: Set a goal, and pick a reward for reaching your goal. Start with something tangible, like 30 real push-ups, and reward yourself with something special once you achieve it.
  • Pick a mantra: Competing with yourself is really all about self-improvement. If there is a quote or song that really gets you in the zone, make it part of your everyday routine.
  • Use your music: Use your playlist as a minicompetition. Pick a faster-paced song every other song as an easy way to take your workout to the next level.