The Barry’s red room is known for being a place where you leave everything you have on the floor. Between sprinting and shoulder pressing and dead lifting, the boot camp–style workout at Barry’s, which just celebrated its 25th birthday, is the apex of high-intensity struggle and euphoria. So what do you do if you’ve got a Barry’s or other high-intensity workout on the agenda, but you’re just feeling draggy and low energy? How do you find the balance between listening to your body’s needs, and knowing that finding that workout motivation and getting moving will ultimately, probably, make you feel better?

It’s a quandary that even Barry’s global CEO Joey Gonzalez faces. And it’s one of the reasons Gonzalez says that Barry’s classes start with the reminder, “Don’t be a hero, and go at your own pace.” The message is that you’re here for you, not to perform for someone else, so stay in tune with what you have to give, which can vary from day to day.

For Gonzalez, approaching a high-intensity workout is less about pushing through low-energy moments, and more about preparation.

“It’s vital to know your body, its rhythm, and when you might feel most energetic,” Gonzalez says. “For example, I know that if I don’t work out prior to 2 or 3 pm, it’s going to be a struggle bus. So I do everything I can to prioritize my workouts in the morning when I know energy levels are high.”

Life does get in the way, and perfectly timing your workouts with your energy peaks isn’t always possible. But preparation can help with workout motivation, too.

“Keep a journal of the moments you decide to move your body during the most challenging times as a reminder of how much better it made you feel,” Gonzalez says.

Finally, give yourself permission to perform in a different way every day, and acknowledge that a win as a win in whatever form it takes. These strategies can help get you through the moments when you want to move, but just don’t feel like going all out.

“Whether you’re feeling low energy or just not in the best state of mind, celebrate the fact that you showed up and are doing something great for your body,” Gonzalez says. “The endorphins you get from exercise will no doubt impact your day in a positive, sometimes even euphoric way, and you’ll be better off as a result of it. So don’t be too hard on yourself and accept whatever level of performance you might be capable of that day.”

Common modifications you can take if you want to show up, but aren’t sure you want to show out

When your workout motivation is lacking, knowing you have some modifications in your tool belt to take things a little easier on yourself could help.

  1. Instead of running, try a brisk power walk. It can deliver many of the same cardiovascular, brain, and overall health benefits as a run.
  2. Take the plyometrics (jumps) out of a floor move. For example, turn jump squats into bodyweight squats, jumping jacks into step touches, and skater bounds into curtsy squats. Low impact doesn’t necessarily equate to low intensity, but it may be a more approachable place to begin.
  3. Do any moves that involve a plank position—such as a burpee, push-up, or mountain climber—at an incline, placing your hands on a bench or other elevated surface instead of on the floor. This will decrease the challenge to make it feel more doable.

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