Fitness Journeys

7 Common Excuses for Not Working Out & Solutions

Excuse #1: “I just don’t have the time to workout.”

Solution: Make time

No, this isn’t me trying to be witty; the simple truth is that in order to be healthy it’s essential that you make fitness a priority in your life. This may mean setting your alarm 30-45 minutes earlier and getting your workouts in first thing in the morning. It may mean heading over to the gym for a quick cardio session on your lunch breaks, or moving from the couch to a stationary bike while watching your favorite show. Keep in mind that a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand-in-hand. Committing to live a lifestyle that is more fit and healthy will enhance the quality of nearly every other area of your life. Make fitness a priority in your life and see what activities drop off. Chances are they won’t be activities that you’ll lament losing, at least in the long-run.  If you truly desire the destination, you can always find a way.

Solution: Multitasking

A discovery that I’ve learned to take full advantage of is the value of multitasking while doing workouts.  I’ve actually seen people, usually students, bring text books on the cardio machines with them in order to study while they workout.  I have to admit that I did it myself a time or two while studying for the CPA exam.  I personally don’t consider reading a text book to be the best multitasking option, as books (especially text books) are cumbersome and tend to limit your workout options to cardio machines. As an alternative I download audio books from iTunes and Amazon, and  listen to them throughout my workouts.  You can also tune your radio enabled device to TVs at most fitness centers, or watch TV in your home gym, as a way to burn calories without missing your favorite shows.  Not only is it a great way to kill two birds with one stone in terms of time management, but it can also keep you distracted just enough to keep you from counting down the seconds you have left on the elliptical machine.

Excuse #2: “I can’t workout at home, and I’m too embarrassed to go to the gym because I’m too (fill in the blank) – fat, old, thin, clumsy, etc.”

Solution: Rethink and Redefine

If you really think that you have to be in great shape and beautiful to go to the gym, then you’re looking at this fitness thing completely backwards. I once heard a quote that seems appropriate, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Think of the gym as a sort of metaphorical doctor who has the cure for the disease called obesity (which pretty much is the case). Who needs the cure more than those who are unhappy with their body? The answer is “nobody”.

The world, and the internet for the matter, is filled with people who started of filled with uncertainty just like you, but they STILL had the cojones to do something about it.  Take some time and check out blogs from bloggers like Ryan from, who’s lost over 120 lbs and has changed his life forever!  The only difference between people like Ryan and you is that they started a little earlier, and are subsequently a little further along in their fitness journeys.

Most people are their own biggest obstacle when it comes to living a more healthy lifestyle. Never let the insecurities, and fears of the person you are today keep you from becoming the person you’re longing to be.  There will be times you’ll love working out, and there will be times when you absolutely HATE it (I promise you), but you’ll always LOVE the results! Anything in this life that’s truly worth having is worth working for.

Excuse # 3: “Gym memberships are just too expensive.”

Solution: Insurance Reimbursement

Some people are fairly dedicated to their fitness goals and have no problem going home and jumping a machine and doing some cardio. Others, myself included, tend to get sucked into the inescapable tractor beam of the couch, household chores, worries, and other relatively unimportant distractions. For those of us who are less disciplined, working out at a gym away from our homes offers a means of avoiding these dangerous distractions.

If you’re concerned about the cost of a gym membership, keep in mind that many health insurance companies offer a reimbursement program in which participants can be reimbursed up to $20 per month per enrolled member. The only requirement is that you must have worked out at least 12 times that month. The unspoken benefit to the insurance companies is that the members who take advantage of the program will generally be in better overall health as a result, which will reduce their costs. It’s a great program for both parties that offers a little extra financial incentive to being regular with your workouts. A fun tip is to setup your reimbursement to be deposited into a special account and then use that money for a celebratory date night, or trip as a little reward for your commitment to fitness.

Solution: Start Small

If your insurance doesn’t offer a program like the one described above, and you simply don’t have the funds for a fancy gym membership, consider smaller gyms as an alternative option. An abundance of smaller gyms are popping up all over and are offering more affordable options for those on tighter budgets. The trade off for the cheaper membership fees is that many of these smaller gyms don’t offer some of the more frilly facilities like swimming pools, saunas, and basketball courts, but what they do offer is a lot of essential equipment at often considerably cheaper prices. When I first started my fitness journey I was a member at a small gym that only charged $19.00/month. Once my insurance started their reimbursement program, I was basically getting my membership free as long as I made it in 3 times a week. Free anything is unbelievably strong motivation for a broke, recent college graduate!

Even if you have no disposable income what so ever, there are still countless resources available for you to start a fitness program in your own home. Many cable and satellite providers offer fitness channels that contain workouts you can follow along with right in the comfort of your own home. The internet is also a fabulous resource for a countless number of blogs and websites offering routines that can be performed with very minimal investment in equipment. For example, check out a recent post from Susan Campbell of titled the 3 Best at Home Cardio Workouts .

Many schools and colleges also offer free or discounted access to their fitness equipment, especially if you’re an alumni. Remember that the principles of fitness are universal whether you’re doing chest exercises on a $3,000.00 cable machine, or simply doing push-ups on your living room floor.

Excuse # 4: “I completely HATE exercising.”

Solutions: Experiment

A fabulous solution to this complaint is simply opening yourself up to different types of routines in order to find one that fits your personality, as well as your lifestyle. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The number one reason why some people hate exercising when they’re starting out is that it’s really, really hard because they’re out of shape, and subsequently they usually suck at it. Hey, I was completely horrible at Spinning the first time I tried it, and I’m still awful at yoga, but I am getting better. It’s my solemn promise to you that if you stick with it and fight through your awkwardness, it will get easier each and every day. The awkwardness and fear that you felt during those first days will only enhance the sense of accomplishment you feel with each step you take on the path of transformative growth. The only effective changes when it comes to fitness are the ones that you stick with. Some options you might try are:

  • Group fitness – If you belong to a gym then group fitness classes may be a great option for adding variety to your workouts. If you try one that you don’t like, simply move on to the next one. Gyms nowadays offer cycling classes, boot camps, yoga, dance classes, and many, many more.
  • Join a Team – Many gyms, community centers, etc have leagues for various sports that are formed based on the age and the experience level of participants. These leagues are a great option for those looking to try a new sport, or to revisit a sport they haven’t played since their youth. I’m actually joining a kickball league this summer with a coworker, which brings back some not so fond memories of elementary school, but hey its exercise and it’s fun!
  • Get Outside – It’s important to note that fitness should not simply be limited to indoor activities. Warm weather activities such as walking/running, biking, basketball, baseball/softball, and winter activities including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are fabulous ways of getting the exercise you need each and every day.


Excuse # 5: “Exercising is just too painful”

Solution: Baby steps and adequate recovery time.

I’ve been working out actively for nearly a decade, and I still have those days where I’m unimaginably sore following an intense workout. The three ways I deal with the problem are as follows:

1. Ease into your workouts, especially if you’re just starting out. Your strength training progress can be absolutely wiped away if you injure yourself by trying to lift more than you are able to with proper form.

2. Ensure that you’re giving your body adequate periods of recovery in between your workouts. Overtraining is actually more common than most people realize, especially when you’re desperate to see results as quickly as possible.  It’s all too common to reason that the more you workout, the more results you’ll see. This is true to a point, but also realize that working a muscle before it’s had adequate time to rebuild is actually counterproductive to the muscle building process. Lifting too early and tearing down muscle that’s not recovered will severely limit the amount of weight you can lift, and as a consequence will also limit the effectiveness of your workouts, and the size of your gains. The period of rest that your body requires varies from person to person, and also depends on the muscle group you’ve worked, but a general rule is at least 48 hours.

3. Stretching is a vital part of building muscle because it increases muscle flexibility, blood flow, and joint range of motion. The length of time that you hold a stretch to be the most effective varies from person to person, but the rule of thumb is about 30 seconds per stretch.  I’ve found that not only is 10-15 minutes of stretching at the end of my workouts a great way to cool down, but it also significantly reduces the amount of soreness I experience during my recovery days. Take the time and your body will thank you.

Excuse # 6: “I just can’t seem to stay on the fitness wagon”

Solution: The 3 Ps

1. Plan – planning your workouts ahead of time is an excellent way to insure consistency. Each week write down the days you’re going to workout, and the exercise you’ll be doing. Part two is to stick to that schedule.

2. Priority – as stated above, making your fitness a priority in your life is the only way that you can insure something else won’t swoop in and rob you of your dreams. Do it in the morning and get your heart pumping for each day’s new challenges. Do it in the evening as a fabulous outlet for the stress and struggles of a busy day at the office. Just DO it.

3. Purpose– State the purpose of your lifestyle changes in the name of fitness with small goals that you are certain you can keep. Grandiose goals are great to have as well, but they also give you an excuse to put off starting down the path to achieving your goals today. It reminds me of the saying “Everybody wants to strive for world peace, but nobody wants to help mom carry in the groceries.” It’s best to think short-term,  something you can act on now.

Be certain that your goals are SMART – meaning that they’re specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. If any of these guidelines are unclear to you, feel free to review them by visiting a past post called “How to Create Your SMART New Years Resolution” and be certain your goals satisfy these standards.

Excuse # 7: “I’m just too tired”

Solution: Sir Isaac Newton (huh?)

For those that are unfamiliar with the work of Isaac Newton, please bear with me. For those of you who are familiar with Newton’s work, “hell yes” I went there.

Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion states “…a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.” What does this mean for you?

You say that you’re too tired to workout, but have ever considered that you’re too tired because you don’t workout? Yours is the body that shall remain at rest on the couch eating fried foods until some outside force acts upon you.

Most studies have shown that physical fitness does wonders for filling up both the physical and mental fuel tanks. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress as it has been shown to release endorphins (body morphine), and it does wonders for many who have problems falling, or staying asleep. Get your body up and I assure you that movement will soon become so natural to you that you’ll actually began to crave it. You may even end up addicted. If that’s the case be sure to visit my support group here at

It’s time again for YOU to be heard! Feel free to answer a question in the comment section below, or say whatever you want. The floor is yours!

Q1. What excuses or barriers have you had to overcome to set off on your fitness journey, and what are some of results?

Q2. Are there any excuses/barriers that continue to plague you today? What do you do to overcome them?

Rock it!


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  1. Great post Matt. Inertia is a tough thing to overcome. For me, the biggest is time, and I fully understand why it presents a hurdle. It took a decision to skip work lunches (prioritizing) and overcoming that hurdle, to make a lasting change. Once you get stuck in that rut, its tough to get out. But it can be done…

    1. Thanks Greg!

      We are truly creatures of habit. Most people who complain about not having enough time have never truly sat down and looked at where they’re spending all of theirs.

      I commend you for changing how you spend your work lunches to change your life. You’re body will thank you!

      Doing what’s going to change your life for the better usually means doing what’s not popular. The path of least resistance is absolutely brimming with fools. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!


  2. Matt, that is such an in depth post. For me, it’s always a matter of time. With so much to do, it can be difficult to find enough time to get in a quality workout. I’ve found one that seems to fit the bill now, so there’s that.

    1. Thanks Todd!

      I think most would agree that lack of time is the excuse that outlasts all others.

      I’m SO happy to hear that you’ve found a quality workout that’s working for you. Rock it!

      Take care,


  3. “I don’t have time to get in a full workout, so I’m not going to waste my time.”

    “I won’t be able to stick to a dedicated schedule, so I’m not going to workout today if I don’t know for sure that I can stick to my routine.”

    Dang, just get in there and train for 20 minutes if you have to, add another 10 minutes the next day, maybe you can workout for an hour this weekend, 5 minutes of abs every other morning. Add it all up and it’s better than 0 minutes. Some folks need to just get in there and make it happen. I was that guy not too long ago. Today I’m up 20 pounds since getting my butt back in the gym.

    1. Nothing but truth there Steve.

      Two great examples of how people often sell themselves short. Changing your life for fitness is all about being motivated to do so. Even if someone tries and falls off the wagon once, twice, or three times, the fact that they’ve jumped on in the first place speaks volumes about their capacity to change. You’ve got this!

      No one got overweight by eating one huge meal and laying around the house one day, so you’re certainly not going to get in shape with one grandiose workout. One day at a time is what it takes!

      RESPECT for the 20 you’re up Steve! Keep rocking it!

      Best wishes,