The Psychology of Habits

The Psychology of Habits

05 November 2018

So many of us try and work out at least a few times a week but can't seem to make it a habit that sticks. We've looked closely at the psychology behind forming habits and have asked our instructors for their top tips so your nagging tasks can become subconscious routines.

If your end target is to become fitter, stronger or lose some weight and doing barre fitness everyday is the habit you need to create to reach that goal, once you’ve got your habit on lockdown, it will seem far more realistic.

Firstly, let’s define a habit.

A habit is something which regularly occurs due to a cue, without having to actively think about it.

It’s not a nagging task which feels like chore, it is something which you find yourself doing without planning it, dreading it, thinking about, working around it and most importantly, without forgetting about it.



There are a number of steps you need to take to form a habit. In this article we’re going to explain how to make barre a daily habit, but these methods can be applied to any habit your aiming to achieve.

A habit needs to include the following:

  • A cue
  • An action
  • A reward


There’s a link between cue and action, in other words, being in a certain situation causes you to do a certain action.

  • Usually a habit is a result of a combination of cues. For example, cooking dinner is a habit cued partly by walking into the kitchen, but you don’t start cooking dinner every time you walk into the kitchen otherwise you’d be having dinner multiple times throughout the day. There are other cues too such as the time, it must be the evening and you must also be hungry.

  • You’re best off creating a habit to happen straight after a habit that already exists. Why? Because you’re already in a routine and that existing habit could act as a cue for another habit. A lot of people find it harder to work out on the weekends, even though they have more free time, because their weekends lack structure. Without the structure of existing habits, there’s nothing to cue you to get you up in the morning and moving.


So you want to do barre daily but you firstly need to look at your larger goal and know what is is you’re trying to achieve overall. Once you’ve got your end goal set, you then need to look at the steps you need to take to get there.

  • Start small. Be realistic with your habits and goals otherwise you’ll get annoyed you’re not achieving them and become demotivated.

  • Make sure your goals are clear. Clear goals mean you don’t spend a whole load of effort forming habits for very small results.
  • Goals help you achieve more by helping you quantify your efforts and therefore, stay motivated.
  • Think about what you’re trying to achieve by attending fitness classes everyday or working out everyday. Are you trying to build habits to help lose weight? Habits of a fit person? Habits to help you train for a marathon?


You need to reward yourself when you’ve achieved your action in a way that reinforces it as a habit as opposed to motivate you to do it.

  • Your reward needs to be sustainable. For example, if it’s something you want to make a daily habit you can’t reward yourself with new clothes because that could end up being expensive and potentially damaging. Similarly, a holiday or a big night out are not effective, they cannot be implemented everyday nor immediately after your habit as they take time to arrange. Your reward should be a quick pat on the back received straight away and that makes you feel really good.

  • Your reward also needs to be something you cannot get unless you have completed the action. Maybe it's a visit to your favourite coffee shop on the way back from the Studio or maybe you can walk through your favourite park. These small and easy to implement rewards are the sort of you thing you should be aiming for. They are something you can do on the way home from class and they won’t be detrimental to your goal.
  • You also shouldn’t be taking the action just to get the reward or giving yourself a reward to make you enjoy the action. You need to enjoy the action regardless, for example if you don’t like spinning but you love barre, don’t go spinning in the hope you might eventually start enjoying it because of that cup of coffee that's waiting for you.


Barrecore Teacher Trainer and CrossFit pro Emily says...

"For me it's finding something that helps me hit my goals. It isn't just about aesthetics - the feeling of being able to lift something heavy, or get through a disgustingly tough workout is so addictive and keeps you wanting to see how much you can push yourself. I go early morning because I know I feel better and more refreshed waking up early, rather than working out later in the evening where generally I then struggle to sleep because I'm still so wired from the adrenaline. I book the same classes every week and I refuse to reschedule them unless it is completely necessary. You need to constantly evaluate your intentions and goals with exercise. For some people it's weight loss, for others it will be how exercise makes them feel. Maybe it's perfecting an exercise/technique, or recovering from an injury. But by knowing what your aims are will help you to stay committed.”

Sarah, Barrecore Instructor and owner of our Manchester Studios has said..

“One of our clients who is also a mum was telling me how she just makes Barrecore a part of her school drop off routine. So she packs the school bags, drops the kids and comes to class. It’s all done in one trip and that way she is has completed her workout by 10am before she can make an excuse. I feel like lots of our other mum clients would relate to that - me too for that matter!”