The fitness guru behind the ‘Insanity’ workout told us the main reason you’re not motivated to exercise — and how to dive back in

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Shaun T.

  • Shaun T. is the mind behind the viral “Insanity” workout.
  • In his new book, “T is for Transformation,” Shaun talks about what motivates him to exercise.
  • Shaun told Business Insider that you shouldn’t be afraid to change things up when your fitness routine is getting dull.
  • Trying something new can have benefits for your body and brain.

Working out is hard work. To avoid giving up, a lot of people stick to a specific schedule. Some might do an evening run on weekdays before dinner or a spin class first thing every morning. But the same fitness routine can become monotonous fast.

This can drive a lot of people – even those who start out feeling highly motivated to work out – to lose momentum and start letting their fitness goals slide. At that point, it’s vital to try something new. Research suggests that spicing things up can have benefits not only for the body but for the brain as well.

Fitness guru Shaun T., the mind behind the “Insanity” workout, told Business Insider that he’s found this to be true personally and for many of the thousands of people that he’s helped get fit. He created an approach to fitness that aims to transform the body in 60 days using interval training, an equipment-free workout that involves breaking up quick bursts of sweaty movement with short rest periods.

“If you’re doing the same thing every day, even if you’re doing one of my workouts, maybe you need to do something different,” Shaun told Business Insider.

Shaun T.

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Shaun T.
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Shaun T.

As someone who tries to practice what he preaches, Shaun uses his own workouts to stay in shape. “I yell at myself,” he said, describing what it’s like to workout to a typical “Insanity” video.

Still, there are times when he doesn’t feel like doing the same routine. To change things up, he advises trying something outside of your comfort zone.

“Don’t force yourself to do something you’re not motivated to do,” Shaun said. “Get a little uncomfortable.”

By putting away our usual tools and trying something completely different, we’re able to challenge the body – and brain – in a novel way. A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science found that older people who were assigned to learn a new skill like quilting saw gains in memory that were still present more than a year later. This suggests that taking up a new exercise hobby, whether it’s cycling, dancing, yoga, or kickboxing, could help not only increase your workout motivation but also benefit your mind.

“Being uncomfortable is the first step to great success. If you’re going after something you’ve never had you have to have uncomfortable moments. If it was easy – if there was no discomfort – we’d all have that amazing body we wanted 100% of the time,” Shaun said.

Beyond benefiting your brain, new workout routines may also help ensure you’re getting the best possible physical results from your workouts.

After extended periods of exercise, the body adapts – meaning that you’ll burn fewer calories with the same exact workout once you’ve done it repeatedly for several weeks or months. For a recent study published in the journal Current Biology, scientists tracked the activity levels of more than 300 people across the US, Ghana, Jamaica, South Africa, and the Seychelles and found that those who got the most exercise burned only as many calories throughout the day as those who were moderately active, suggesting that our bodies naturally try to burn as little energy as possible.

Switching it up can help avoid this problem because you’re working muscles you may not have been using before.

“A day or two after [trying something new] you’re going to be sore because you’ve never moved in that way. And you’re going to thank yourself,” Shaun said.