The “I don’t want to work out” workout

Hi guys! How was the day? So happy to hear you liked the dessert recipe. It’s a good one. In fact, it just made the perfect post-Zumba treat 😉

This week. Since I’ve been under the weather this week, I’ve received a couple of questions about working out while you’re sick.

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(Today, Liv and I went to the Mad Beet for a juice. The names of the juices, smoothies and fruit bowls always crack me up, as they’re plays on bands and musicians. For example, I’ll usually get the Green Latifah green juice. Today, I got the Public Lemony with extra-extra ginger and cayenne to burn everything out, and Livi got the ParFaith Hill: a yogurt parfait with fruit, granola and honey.)

I talk about it a little in this post, but I think you know in your heart if you should work out or take a rest day. There are definitely the times when a little movement and sweat will make you feel better; there are also times when you know stepping onto a treadmill would send you into body aches or a coughing fit. A common rule of thumb is if you’re sick from the neck up (sore throat, runny nose, etc.), but feel like getting in an low-key workout, go for it knowing you may need to decrease the intensity or duration. Make sure to wash your hands well, disinfect everything you use (which should be done after each workout anyway!), and also be mindful of coughing/hacking. If you have sound affects that accompany your sickness, I’d stay home. 😉 If you’re sick from the neck down (body aches, fever, chills), definitely skip your workout. Rest + fluids = magic healing combo.

Now for the grey area: you’re healthy, rested, but don’t necessarily feel like working out.

This situation needs extra assessment to determine if our body is trying to tell us something. If you’re dreading your workout, it can be a symptom of overtraining, and a cue to take some extra R&R to evaluate your routine. 

Sometimes, we may be feeling good (rested and ready to work out), and then arrive at the gym realizing our mojo didn’t make it there with us.

Here’s a workout for those times. It’s more low-key -there’s nothing more evil than thinking you HAVE to do a set of burpees when you really don’t want to burpee- and focuses on one movement at a time. It’s just enough to challenge the muscles without going overboard. It’s the kind of workout where you feel happily triumphant, instead of defeated from pushing yourself to do something you’re not in the mood for.

(As always, check with a doc before making any fitness changes. Honor your body and modify as needed.)


I dont want to workout

Let me know if you give it a try!

What’s something you’ve done lately to spice up your workouts? If you’re ever looking for ideas, there are a ton on the fitness page for ya too 🙂

Have a great night!!




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  1. haley @Cupcakes and on October 22, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    this is so great! sometimes, it’s not that I don’t want to workout, but it’s that I don’t want to go to the gym! this sounds like an easy workout that can be done at home!

  2. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on October 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Hi Gina! I agree that you have to listen to your body to figure out why you don’t feel like working out. Many times for me when I feel that was is because of overtraining due to all the classes I teach. So I’m careful to foam roll and get in yoga or stretching once a week. I think going to a yoga class, taking a walk or maybe doing some bodyweight exercises are other great options when you’re just not into it. Likely, you’ll feel better afterwards. Have a good night!

  3. Cat on October 22, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Really good point about knowing when to skip a WO – I wrote about my little break recently (it was just a head cold, but I was feeling too sorry / snotty for myself!)

    This is perfect for those days!

  4. Laura B @ FitMamaLove on October 22, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    I’m a big fan of resting when I’m sick, but I do try to get in movement when I can. I was sick all last week and only really had one day when I just wanted to lay on the couch and watch TV all day (but wait, I have kids, so I can’t!). I managed to stick with my regular Pilates teaching schedule and got in a good long walk and cardio as well.

    Glad you’re on the mend! Veggie-loaded soups are a favorite of mine for curing colds. That and pho of course! Clears out everything!

  5. Bethany on October 22, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Love this idea! It’s dead simple, so I can’t use the excuse of not wanting to learn new moves when I’m not motivated:) Will definitely give this a try.

  6. Annalisa on October 22, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    That happened to me today. I made it to the gym and got on the treadmill with every intention of running. I started and I just wasn’t feeling it. I knew something was off when my usual warm-up pace felt like a challenge. lol. I didn’t push too hard and when I knew I was done I stopped. I just went and stretched and did some foam rolling and I felt a ton better. I am glad that I did make it to the gym though, it made a difference in my day for sure. I’ll have give this workout a try! Thanks.

  7. Kay on October 22, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Livi’s little hand in that picture is just so precious.

    Usually when I’m on the edge of should I, or should I not workout. I tell myself I’ll do 5 minutes of something light (walking, stretching, body weights) and by the time I’m doing that, I’ll either realize: “I should NOT be working out.” or I’ll really want to amp it up.

    Thanks for the workout!

  8. Brynn on October 23, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Such a great idea to have an I Don’t Want to Workout Workout because sometimes you feel right in that ‘maybe’ zone and knowing there is a workout just for those times is perfect. Always a big fan of your routines!

  9. Linda @ Fit Fed and Happy on October 23, 2014 at 3:24 am

    I approve of this workout! Easy reps of easy exercises going not by time but by sets and reps.

  10. Alex on October 23, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend and starting to feel better! Great workout for those days when we know some movement is better than none but just aren’t feeling it in the gym. Definitely need to keep this in my back pocket just in case!

  11. Tina Muir on October 23, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Oh I could not agree more! I loved what you said about knowing in your heart. I am starting back running after my 10 days off after chicago, and I can tell my body is itching to go, but it definitely needed that rest. I think people do not listen to their body enough, but it is good to see another person who does. Anyway, this workout sounds great, and is varied enough it should keep anyone interested 🙂

  12. Lindsey @ SimplyLindsey on October 23, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Going to try this workout after work today! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      how’d it go?? 🙂

  13. ALi on October 23, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Bodypump 91! Taught it twice this week and O.M.G. Back, shoulders and biceps are SO sore, in the best way. 🙂 Always love a great new release. Keeps my energy high and you know how much the regulars LIVE for that stuff 🙂

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      love new releases, too! i haven’t done the shoulder or biceps track from 91 yet, but i LOVE the rest. the lunge/squat track is my fave 🙂

  14. Cara's Healthy Cravings on October 23, 2014 at 4:58 am

    So important to listen to your body!
    I think this is a great workout, as it can be “low-key” or ramped up a bit with some more intensity. I love any workout with squats and lunges

  15. Christa @ Living Unablanced on October 23, 2014 at 5:17 am

    I know you’ve mentioned you like to take 1-2 weeks completely off of working out a few times a year. Have you ever done a post on that? Would love to hear more about it 🙂

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      i haven’t, but it’s pretty straightforward! i just take the time off entirely and let myself completely recover. the last time i did it was when i was finishing my book edits. here, since i’ve been teaching so much i haven’t had the chance to do it yet, but this was a good reminder to plan some time (maybe over the holidays) for a rest week

  16. Heather @Fit n Cookies on October 23, 2014 at 5:29 am

    It’s always frustrating to decide the reason you don’t want to work out. I know when I am dreading it, it’s either before 1) I waited too long in the day or 2) I’m overtraining. If it’s #1, I definitely get the workout in and once i start, I feel great. However, most times that I absolutely dread it, It’s because I’m over doing it and I just take a day off.

  17. Jenn on October 23, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Hey Gina, this is a little off topic but I had an idea for a post that I think may interest a lot of people, and it’s something that I don’t think you’ve done before (unless I missed it!). I was reading in American Fitness an article about sweat, and how so many people think that more sweat = more exertion and so this new fad of hot workouts is emerging rapidly. I know you teach hot barre and so many of us have taken hot yoga and other hot workouts, but the article says that, while participants love walking away drenched, they’d actually perform at a higher level and have greater cardiovascular gains if the room was cooler, since we can’t perform at our highest when dehydrated. It sort of makes sense, since pooling sweat means our cooling system is no longer working…but I know that I often measure success by sweat too! Anyway, just thought that diving into that topic could make an interesting post! Thanks for being an inspiration! –Jenn

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      ohhhh maybe i can do this for a reader’s request next week?! thank you for the idea 🙂 xoxo

  18. Amanda @ Slimplify Life on October 23, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I make em spicy with new playlists! Hearing good workout music always gets me going.

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      playlists make all the difference in the world 🙂

  19. Deanna on October 23, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I have a slight cold this week too…neck up mostly….but still not feeling 100%. I decided to take a class because I knew I’d put forth more effort and go longer….if left to my own devices I would have phoned it in on the elliptical for a bit and left. Ended up being the best I felt all day!

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      that’s how i felt while i was teaching, too! best i felt all day 🙂

  20. Abby Schock on October 23, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Is it bad that this seems like a pretty good workout to me, even on non “lazy” days? Haha.

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      haha not bad at all! the beauty is that you can scale it down or amp it up depending on how you feel

  21. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on October 23, 2014 at 7:01 am

    This sounds like a great workout! Thanks for sharing!

  22. Tracy on October 23, 2014 at 10:33 am

    There are definitely those days when I have to talk myself into working out. I usually end up planning a simpler workout like this one and give myself a break. It makes it easier to get a workout in when otherwise I might have skipped. Most of the time I come back the next time ready to really go for a hardcore workout!

  23. Tricia @ A Couple of Dashes on October 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Sometimes it really is hard to figure out if you need to take a rest day or if you simply just don’t want to go to the gym. I feel like it’s just that I don’t want to go more often than not, but one time I did push it and had to leave a class a couple minutes in because I wasn’t feeling good and ended up throwing up a few minutes later. No fun!

  24. Masala Girl on October 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    i love this gina, thanks so much for putting this out here. i also feel like it is a workout that i could make more challenging!

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm

      definitely! you could scale down or power it up depending on how you feel 🙂

  25. Mari on October 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I love this workout! I was slightly dreading going to the gym and logging in another 60 minutes on the elliptical tonight but I read this post and got inspired. This was such a great workout and I definitely will do this again in the future when I’m feeling bored!!

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      i’m so happy to hear you liked it!! 🙂 xoxo

  26. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on October 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I think you know in your heart if you need a rest day or just need a little extra motivation too. Thanks for the workout!

  27. Ashley on October 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Was definitely in the mood for a nice change of pace workout today, so this was perrrrfect. Thanks, girl. Happy Friday! <3

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      <3 happy friday to you! hope i get to see your lovely face again one of these days!! have a great weekend. xo

  28. Ali on October 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Love this workout circuit cause I’m preggers and can do all of this!

  29. Sandy on October 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

    This was AH-MAH-ZING! I tried it today because I knew I needed to sneak in a lunchtime workout, and I loved how quick it was (I dropped the last 10 of easy cardio). I also appreciated how quickly it moved – which is KEY for those days when you don’t feel like working out but know you’re never doing any one thing so long you can talk yourself out of it. I would really appreciate more of this “style” of quick/easy workouts for both days I can’t get totally motivated to come up with a plan and also the days where I need to get in something over lunch, quickly after work on an evening we have plans, etc. THANKS!

  30. Maggie @ Veg Fiend on November 9, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Will definitely try this on mornings I am too groggy to run, but want a little more cardio than yoga. Thanks, Gina!

  31. Brittany on October 24, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Hi Gina!!!! I am a long time reader (you were pregnant with Liv when I found fitnessista!). I love all your workouts and recipes! You are my fitness inspiration! I have one question. What should I be doing for a cool down? Is it the same as a warm up? I am nursing a sprained ankle and am not allowed to do cardio for a few weeks. Walking is ok as long as it’s slow.

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