If there’s one thing Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn—the powerhouse duo behind Tone It Up—know, it’s how to make fitness fun. If you’re not familiar, their peppy workout videos, made-to-be-Instagrammed recipes, and massive following of TIU Girls on social media (1.2 million followers on Instagram alone) make kettlebells and kale look more exciting than sleeping in and hitting up weekend brunch. (But that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice a good brunch.)
That’s because, at the end of the day, these two ladies realized that life is way too short to spend so much time dreading diet and exercise. After all, they’re integral parts of a daily routine. Plus, if you’re having a good time achieving your health goals, you’re more likely to stick to them, they say.
On top of that, research has shown that how you think about your workouts has ripple effects. A 2015 study published in Marketing Letters found that when participants perceived physical activity as fun—for example, signing up for a 5K with your bestie vs. running as part of your regular fitness routine—they were actually less likely to snack throughout the day and consumed less dessert. Why? Researchers theorize that having fun with fitness triggers the reward switch in your brain. That feeling of reward keeps you from derailing later because rather than telling yourself you’re going to get a treat later, the workout becomes the treat.
So, with the power of fun fitness in mind, we asked K&K how to switch things up to make our fitness goals more enticing. Here’s what they said needs to change in your routine.
Get a friend in on the action.
Old Goal: Cancel happy hour with your work wife to avoid a #healthgoals saboteur.
New Goal: Invite her to be your workout buddy.
Let’s be real, no one wants to skip happy hour to go slog away at the gym. That’s why K&K are all about buddying up with someone to form healthier habits together. “For us, the number one thing is getting a girlfriend involved,” says Dawn. “Having an accountability partner really does make it more fun and motivating.”
That means instead of setting goals to run stairs solo or get yourself to an a.m. spin class, bring a friend in on the action to make you more likely to stick to your committments. “It’s knowing that you’re not alone in this journey—you can turn and look at someone after class or after a workout and be like, ‘That was awesome,’ or you can say, ‘Please help me,'” says Dawn. (Not sure how to make the ask? Here are 7 ways to find a fitness buddy.)
Make your sweat sessions social events.
Old Goal: Go for a run before heading to brunch.
New Goal: Recruit your brunch crew to join your morning miles.
Obviously, social time is a huge part of TIU’s fitness lifestyle. “We got used to a social fitness, where you get together with your girlfriends and not only are you together spending time but you also have those accountability partners,” Dawn says. Kick your buddy system up a notch by making a workout a full-blown social event with your whole crew.
There are two major advantages to setting social goals. First, you have a whole support system to help you struggle through a tough workout, says Scott—sharing eye contact and a giggle makes your boot camp instructor seem slightly less intimidating. And secondly, setting social goals is also really convenient. On a busy week, you won’t have to choose between a catch up and getting your cardio.
Embrace the power of the playlist.
Old Goal: Muscle through that super boring silent yoga class, even though you hate listening to the sound of your breathing.
New Goal: Check out a hip-hop yoga class.
Good jams can turn a traditionally boring workout into a party, and according to TIU doctrine, any workout can be enhanced with a playlist that speaks to you. “We always have to have a fun playlist for working out,” says Dawn. “Sometimes we’ll listen to old school jazz, sometimes we’ll listen to the latest and greatest dance music, or sometimes just Beyoncé on Pandora. Whatever mood we’re in, we totally jam out.”
Use the power of a good playlist to your advantage when setting your fitness goals. If you’re someone who’s really moved by music, plug into classes known for their DJ skills. And when you workout on your own, don’t leave home without your headphones—that 6-mile run will fly by with Queen Bey giving you energy. (Need inspo? Here are 100 of the best workout songs in the world.)
Plan ahead and mix things up.
Old Goal: Try to make it to three workout classes a week, depending on your work schedule.
New Goal: Book three classes before the week starts and make your schedule work.
Looking forward to your workouts is a huge part of making fitness more fun, according to K&K. So as you start setting your fitness goals for the week, “find something you love and will look forward to,” says Dawn.
To keep things interesting and engaging, they advise always scheduling your workouts ahead of time and mixing it up so you go into the week with fun workout plans already on the books. “We’ll text each other and be like, ‘What do you feel like this week?” Dawn said of her and Scott’s weekly routine. “We always want to mix it up and get outside.”
Set mini goals instead of massive ones.
Old Goal: Go from being a cardio-hater to running a half-marathon before 2018.
New Goal: Find a good training plan and commit to safely increasing your mileage.
While setting ambitious goals is good, the philosophy behind TIU’s success is about enjoying the ride. To do that, “setting little mini goals each day is really important,” says Scott. “And, of course, setting attainable goals—that’s number one.”
The idea is that if you’re only fixated on reaching a far-off future goal, you’re not getting the boost of encouragement that comes from recognizing your progress along the way. “One thing that works for us is journaling throughout the process,” says Scott. Checking in on mini goals each day can help keep you motivated and spot any not-so-fun parts that might be waiting to derail you.
Tap into community support.
Old Goal: Next time you hit a wall, just grit your teeth and push through it.
New Goal: Next time you hit a wall, ask for support from your squad.
Rather than letting your setbacks feel intimidating, build a support group right into your goals. “We set out to create a community for women where they could connect with each other,” says Scott. “At the time, fitness was very scary and not very fun—we wanted to connect through fitness.”
That’s a goal they’ve definitely crushed—K&K have talked to TIU Girls who met through the community and were in each other’s weddings, welcomed fellow TIU Girls to new cities where they didn’t know any one, and even spearhead meal deliveries for a TIU Girl battling cancer. “Seeing the way that this community comes together and truly changes each other’s lives is surreal,” says Scott. “All we want is for these women to feel fulfilled, and if they feel fulfilled and loved then we’ve done our job.”