Indoor Trainer Motivation: Think Out of the Basement

By Peg Labiuk | 02/02/10
Indoor Trainer Motivation: Think Out of the Basement

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The following question was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

Indoor Trainer Motivation: Think “Out of the Basement”

Hi Coach,

As temperatures dip lower and lower, and the darkness invades my days, I find it harder and harder to force myself to get on the trainer in the basement. It just isn't the same as riding outdoors. Maybe it's my age (I'm now 58), but I know others who have the same problem. What tips do you have to energize those of us who turn into lethargic lumps of lard in winter?


Hi Dave,

Love your question because it forces me to think “out of the basement” for ways to motivate us to get on that trainer.  I have lots of ideas for you:

1. Toys – You know there are sooo many gadgets you can get that I’m sure you’ll find interesting.  Computrainers, GPS, DVDs – it’s almost endless.  But, it can also be costly.  One simple thing that doesn’t cost?  Music.  I’m sure you have favorite tunes and can cue those up.  Most of the time, it’s just getting on the trainer, like getting out the door, that is the major hurdle.  If you were just going to spin while listening to your favorite music or a podcast, or a watch a movie, you’d likely do it and find that you have more energy to make some efforts once you got going.

2.  Companionship – One thing that is definitely missing when riding solo indoors is someone to share it with.  Can you invite a buddy over?  If you have Skype, you could hook up with someone and ride together, or even catch up with a non-cyclist.  If you did have gadgets that record your workouts, you can email the result to a friend – motivation for both of you to finish that ride and compare.  Trading your favorite workouts would also help.

3.  Goals – Not just making goals but sharing them with someone you trust is the most powerful motivator.  When you have that goal, you can start working towards it sooner.  Wouldn’t hurt to have interim goals for each season, month, week, and each day.

4.  Decorate – The atmosphere where you train has to be inviting.  You refer to cold, dark, basement workouts.  Maybe it’s time to make your dream space – paint, add lighting, how about a great fan like the new Dyson?  Surround sound?  Maybe just something as simple as a table or shelf your can reach while you are on the bike would make it better.  The best I ever had was a dedicated room I painted bubble gum pink.  I displayed my trophies, framed National Champion jerseys, and World’s Medal.  I had fresh air and a floor matt for stretching afterwards.  My bike was always set up and I looked forward to going into that room to ride.

5.  Get Statistics – Want to motivate yourself?  Read about the benefits of exercise, the stats on what happens if you don’t.  If nothing gets your running to that bike, this will.

Dave, evaluate what keeps you from starting the workout the most.  See if some of these ideas would address that point and work for you.  However, don’t be hard on yourself for training less during the winter.  It is after all, the “off-season”.

Coach Peg

Photo: "Kitchen Trainer 11" by Michael Lokner via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

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