Your Fitness Facelift
Enjoying your workout feels good, doesn’t it?
When you’ve found an activity that excites you and all the logistics – the yoga studio or gym is close to your office, the timing of the class works with your schedule, the machine you prefer is available – fall into place, exercising feels like less of a chore and more like the invigorating part of your day that it should be. Week after week of the same thing, though, can grow tiresome and begin to feel stale, making it harder for you to look forward to it – much like eating the same thing for lunch every day.
When that lack of motivation hits, it not only affects how you feel about breaking a sweat, but also how you perform once you are. It’s a pretty common problem for anyone trying to stay fit, but luckily, rediscovering your drive to move in a meaningful way doesn’t require an overhaul of everything you’re doing. Freshening up several elements of your routine might help you feel inspired again and possibly lead you to move differently, and challenge your body in new ways. (This advice applies, too, to anyone aiming to get back in shape.)
Here are some simple ideas for giving your fitness sessions a facelift:
The gym’s pumped-in soundtrack may be motivating. After all, research has shown, time and again, that listening to tunes while working out can make your exercise sessions more enjoyable and even push you to work harder during them. But hearing the same thumping cardio tunes over and over again can get tired (and irritating), and some studies say that music of your choosing is what really will get you going.
Keep things fresh and stimulating by loading your phone or portable music device with your own playlists. If you already have, it may be time to add new selections to the mix. You can also use music streaming services that rotate songs for you (like Pandora), or look for apps with ready-made playlists, including ones you can customize to the length and rhythm of your workouts, like RockMyRun.
It may seem insignificant, but what you wear carries some power. Slipping into a never-before-worn top in your favorite color or a pair of bottoms that fit you like a glove can give you some added body confidence and enthusiasm, and make your workout more comfortable, especially if in the past you’ve just thrown on whatever was handy to work out in – your husband’s old T-shirt, that pair of shorts that always rides up – what fun was that?
As you update your workout wardrobe, choose items that will help you power on. For example, if you’re exercising outdoors during the winter, opt for layering pieces that you can peel off as needed (so you don’t overheat and call it quits too early). Make sure your sports bras or compression shorts are the right size and give you the support you need for the kinds of workouts you do. Pick sneakers that are not only good-fitting but that you’re excited about – why not try the ones with the fun orange laces?
Online Videos and DVDs
Many people tend to do the same exercises over and over again because they simply stick with what they know or what their gym has to offer. Even if at-home workouts haven’t been your thing, reconsider finding new fitness videos to add more variety to your routine.
Online videos are an affordable way to experiment with different types of activity – anything from yoga to strength training to Zumba. And unlike gym classes, you can do them any time your schedule allows; working out at home, you can also easily break up your workouts into shorter stints of 10 or 15 minutes, if you’d like. Options vary in style and duration, so pick up a mix. Really try to choose titles focused on activities you don’t usually do, and get tips on favorites from friends.
Search “exercise” on Google Play or the Apple iTunes store and you’ll see dozens of options for both free and paid workout-related apps. Like DVDs and online videos, these give you easy access to new workouts on your TV, smartphone or tablet without having to sample unknown instructors or classes or join a gym. Apps are perhaps most useful for all the ways they track progress, which, research indicates, can encourage you to stick with regular activity.
With measurements like calories burned, miles run or steps taken, it’s hard not to see your workout in a new light when you can see your accomplishments right in front of you. (For more on why and how to track yourself, including specific apps and devices, read our article
Fitness Trackers: Motivation Through Technology.)
You don’t need a lot of “stuff” to work out, it’s true. Most of us, though, appreciate the ways that using fitness gear can make getting in shape more fun, more challenging and, when mixed in with other workouts, a refreshing change from the norm.
Try resistance bands when strength training to beat free weight boredom, or stand on a Bosu ball to give tired old squats a new dimension of challenge. Even using a humble jump rope can make a cardio session feel different, especially if you haven’t picked one up since elementary school recess.
A 30-minute walk on the second treadmill from the window at the gym. That running trail down the street. Most of us have our exercise go-tos – the places where we know we’ll get in a good sweat session, even if it feels repetitive or we know what to expect. But simply switching up where you work out from time to time can have a big impact on body and mind, especially if you always tend to work out inside.
Research indicates that exercising outdoors may increase motivation and may even feel easier; in one study, walkers who were allowed to choose their own pace tended to walk faster when outside, though they perceived the faster exercise to be less hard. Still, whether you’re indoors or out – a class that takes place in a different studio or a jogging path in another neighborhood or park – a change of scenery can help your favorite activity feel energizing again.
Are you a pack trainer (someone who looks for groups or classes to work out with)? Or do you prefer to fly solo, exercising on your own? Most of us (about 76 percent), tend to fall in the latter category, but whichever camp you stand in, you might find it motivating to try the opposite of your usual routine. If you’re a solitary runner, for example, consider adding in a weekly yoga class as part of your cross-training, or occasionally do your long runs with a local running group.
On the flipside, social exercisers may find it easier to tune in to their breathing or their body’s rhythm during a workout by training alone from time to time. You may find that the combination of working out alone and with a partner or group encourages you to expand the types of workouts you do – and helps you look forward to them in different ways.