A few months ago, I ended my membership with LA Fitness. This wasn’t because I intended to cease my workouts. It’s because I’d sort of hit a rut. I’d go to the gym, do the same routine, go home. Rinse, repeat. It wasn’t just that it was boring; it was worse than that: I wasn’t challenging myself and I wasn’t improving.
I started working out at 15 years old, when I discovered my mom’s stash of home-recorded Body Electric VHS tapes. Since then, exercise has become a huge stress-release for me, and I work hard to keep my schedule challenging and productive. Here are a few tips to liven up your workout:
- Embrace YouTube. I’m a huge fan of exercise videos – quick, fun, effective, and can be done almost anywhere. YouTube has a lot of great free cardio videos, it’s just a matter of finding ones that work for your fitness level and available time.
- Explore. My dad and I go running together about once a week, whether it’s a hundred degrees or freezing, and we take nearly the same route every time – a paved trail through a nice local park. Last summer, we realized that our park has a great trail loop through the woods – a soft, unpaved path that offered new challenges (and kept us out of the sun). If you’re a runner, look for new paths or little hidden add-ons to the route you usually take. Go to a different park. Try a different trail. It’ll make things much more interesting, and it’s a great way to explore your surroundings.
- Step it up. Whether you work out with weight machines at the gym or lift hand weights at home, you’re probably due for an upgrade. Go up a couple pounds and see how long you can keep lifting. If you use hand weights, they should be small enough that you can lift two at a time – say, if you usually curl eight-pound weights, add a two- or three-pound dumbbell and see how you do.
- Try something new. Recently I started doing yoga as a cool-down. I like power yoga, but I never thought I’d find traditional yoga enjoyable. The point: Try yoga or HITT or take a class or join a running group. Do something totally different, especially if it’s something you’ve prejudged.
- Get in the water. Swimming gets overlooked when we’re talking about exercise – but it’s summer, and a great time to utilize this effective, low-impact exercise. If you really want to get your heart pounding, work on your butterfly stroke.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Your body needs its exercise time, and will thank you for it in the long run.