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Trainers Reveal: Motivational Mantras That Get Results

"Don't ever give yourself the opportunity to ask, 'what if'?"

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Too many of us go through life thinking about 'what could have been.’ We blame everything and everyone... out of fear. It doesn't matter if you hit the target—it's what you learned, how you developed, and how far you've moved from where you once were. Can you imagine just how much better you'd be if you simply did not worry about failing or what others would think?

—Jay Cardiello, strength and conditioning specialist, SHAPE fitness editor-at-large, and founder of the JCORE Accelerated Body Transformation System

"If you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to make it happen."

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The reason why successful people reach their dreams is because they keep trying and they keep believing. Sure, you will fall, and it will hurt. But you've got to realize that your achievement is worth those tough lessons.

—Cassey Ho, certified Pilates and group fitness instructor and creator of

"Your body achieves only what your mind believes!"

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Whether it's getting through a tough workout, persevering a professional goal, or overcoming an obstacle, this is the perfect quote for our mindset to shift from failure and scarcity to success and possibility. I use this quote to motivate myself just as much as I use it to motivate clients!

—Lindsay Vastola, certified fitness expert and owner of Body Project Fitness and Lifestyle

"Strong is what happens when you run out of weak."

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This is one of my favorite ways to motivate people through the tough parts of a workout. I remind them that the only way to get stronger—both physically and mentally—is to work outside of their comfort zone. Most people are much stronger than they think they are. They have to choose to change their mind to let that physical strength come through.

—Nicole Nichols, certified group exercise instructor, personal trainer, and fitness expert for

"Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith."

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My favorite line works for me in fitness, it resonates with me in my marriage, and it's a reminder of the need for a long-term point of view when it comes to child rearing. It's my all-purpose mantra, especially during those cardio sessions where I'm seriously doubting if I can make it through. Its rhythmic lilt is cardio-chanting perfection.

—Carla Birnberg, certified personal trainer, bodybuilding competitor, and creator of MizFitOnline

"If you never change, you'll never change."

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The truth of the matter is, if you are trying to change your weight, size, speed, strength, body fat percentage, etc., and what you are currently doing isn't working (even if it once worked before), you need to make changes.

—Rick Richey, certified personal trainer, NASM master instructor, and owner of R2Fitness in New York City

Photo credit: Patrick Sasso

"Don't think about it; just do it."

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So many times we get caught up in what we think we can or cannot do. When trying to push through a tough workout, sometimes it's best to stop the mental chatter, focus, and JUST DO IT!

—Jennipher Walters, certified group exercise instructor, co-founder of, and co-author of The Fit Bottomed Girls' Anti-Diet

"Fitness is about so much more than exercise. It's a catalyst for positive change, and it affects every aspect of your life."

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Motivation is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to exercise. It is human nature to try to avoid pain and discomfort. Exercise is uncomfortable, there is no denying that, but once you understand firsthand the tremendous impact fitness can have on your life, you can push through any self-imposed limits. When people are at the brink of wanting to give up, I try to bring them back to the the bigger picture.

—Amanda Russell, fitness lifestyle expert and host of ARfit

Photo credit: Chloe Barcelou, styled by Lindsay Coco

"An hour-long workout is 4 percent of your day. There are no excuses."

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This quote is a great reminder to those clients who complain about not having enough hours in the day to work out. There are so many time-wasters (watching TV, surfing the web, etc.) that could be put to better use, like improving one's health and fitness. [It] also motivates me to get off my butt when I'm procrastinating about working out.

—Geoff Bagshaw, certified exercise instructor, international presenter, and area group fitness manager for Florida Equinox Fitness Clubs

"Focus on the process."

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Setting goals can be inspiring, exciting, and challenging, but I encourage my clients to focus on the process rather than the goal. Goals can actually hinder progress if they feel too out of reach, or if we judge our success on our proximity to the end goal. If you focus on the processes, methods, and techniques you're using while in pursuit of that goal, studies show you'll be more successful. It's important to recognize and celebrate your hard work and dedication to stay on track.

Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer (clients include Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, and Lady Gaga) and author of The Body Reset Diet

"Look fit, be fit"

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A nice looking body means nothing if you're not fit and healthy. True functional or 'primal' styles of training and exercises like pushups, pull-ups, and balancing exercises, reign superior to vanity exercises like curls and crunches. When you exercise in a way that promotes health and fitness, you will certainly look and feel better, but when you train only for the 'look,' the same is not necessarily true. You must be fit, not just look it.

—Alfonso Moretti, certified personal trainer and owner of Angry Trainer Fitness

"I’m doing this for me."

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I repeated this mantra over and over again during my first half-marathon to remind myself why I was there. It's honestly what helped me stay strong and not only finish the race, but beat my goal of finishing in less than two hours.

—Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist for the American Council On Exercise and certified fitness instructor and trainer

"Temporary pain for long-term gain!"

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I mainly use this in my own workouts, but I'll also use it when my clients are struggling. It's short, sweet, and true!

—Jon-Erik Kawamoto, personal trainer, strength and conditioning specialist, and owner of JKConditioning

Photo credit: Mark Burnham Photography

"Nobody gets 100 percent out of something unless they put in 100 percent!"

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We always try to control things around us that are beyond our control. This frustrates us so we go to work out and release stress. The problem is that many people go on autopilot during their training session. Our muscles are the only real thing we have control over! Let go of trying to control things in the real world and spend time controlling how your muscles create a dynamic movement. You will find yourself much happier and much stronger. If you're only willing to put in 20 percent focus on your workouts, don't expect anything more than 20 percent of the results you want.

—Sonrisa Medina, group exercise instructor and certified personal trainer in Miami, FL

"Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."

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This is my favorite part of a much longer quote from Marianne Williamson. Most people judge themselves by how they're not fit, or they have a negative self-image when it comes to their appearance or physical ability. I try to focus on my clients' positive attributes. My favorite personal saying is, 'focus on what you can do, not what you can't.' It's been my experience that it's tough for people to really focus on their 'light' and open up the power that lies within.

—Pete McCall, certified personal trainer

"Make it happen!"

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As instructors we provide numerous modifications to routines so that our participants don’t give up when it gets too hard (like slowing down your speed to keep going or reducing your dumbbell weight). When I tell them to "make it happen," they know I mean that it's up to them to use any one of the provided strategies so they won't stop in their tracks when they can do more. It really works!

Michele Olson, Ph.D., certified group fitness instructor and professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery


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