How to Add Fun to Your Workout Schedule

By Erica Hasten
On March 6, 2012

While some people are able to maintain a steady exercise routine, I personally find it difficult to keep myself interested in any form of physical activity for extended periods of time. After 15 minutes of running on the treadmill, going on the elliptical, or even riding on the stationary bike, I find myself bored, tired and out of breath. This is not because I am out of shape. I physically can continue, yet I feel that there is no point to my workout when I am not going anywhere. During my 45 minute "bike ride" I am still stuck in the same gym with Keeping up with the Kardashians playing on the television in front of me. As much as I truly care about Kim's failed marriage, I would rather be more mentally stimulated during my time exercising. I mean, exercising is supposed to be enjoyable; and it should not feel like another chore to cross off my list. There are only so many times I can listen to my exercise playlist on my iPod without going insane. Hence, I decided to find a fun, creative, and new way to spice up my routine and share my discoveries with all of you.

Don't get me wrong. I am aware that some people enjoy maintaining a routine and sticking with it. Some love doing the same workout on a daily basis, which I think is admirable. Yet, if you fall into this category, be aware that the human body is a major adaptor to intense situations. For example, if you run every day, it is best to slightly increase your speed, intensity, or distance each time you run in order to ensure that your body is truly getting the exercise it needs. It is important to continue to push yourself to your body's limit in order to gain all the benefits that come with working out.    

For all of those who do get bored easily and enjoy switching it up every day, here is a list of ideas that can motivate you to continue your workout routine. Just keep in mind that it is important to warm up before your workout as well as stretch afterwards to avoid injuries. It is also imperative to eat lots of protein before and after weight training or hard-core strength training. If you experience any pain whatsoever, stop immediately. Oh, and don't worry: no monthly gym membership is necessary for any of these ideas.

1. Find a workout buddy. Let's face it, when I workout alone it is extremely challenging to motivate myself to continue for any extended period of time. Easily 45 minutes of any gym related activity turns into 30 minutes, and this turns into 15 minutes. Before you know it, that new TV show or that book becomes more and more tempting. This may cause you to cancel your workout altogether. But working out with a partner may help your commitment issues. Once your decision to skip a session affects someone else, it may cause you to rethink. Plus, it is more fun to discuss the latest Kardashian drama with a friend than think about it alone.

2. Join a cheap exercise class.Nothing motivates me more than having a super scary instructor yelling at me to move my butt. I recently joined a weekly Zumba class that takes place in 36thStreet back lounge that has been amazing! In addition, this opportunity gives me a professional advisor to let me know if I am doing any move incorrectly. If Zumba is not your style, there are yoga classes offered at Stern; and I am sure that there are Pilates, spinning, aerobics, boxing, and any many other classes offered somewhere close by in NYC. (This is midtown, after all.) Don't forget to ask if the classes offer student rates.

3. YouTube can be your friend.If you do prefer to work out alone, there are many great workout videos on YouTube. I recommend trying out 8 minute abs, arms, legs, buns, or any other body part you can think of. Just make sure that you follow the instructions carefully to avoid injuries. Also, don't forget to stretch when you are done with an 8 minute routine. It is also important to be cautious when searching the internet for new workouts. It may be best to avoid any videos about weight lifting. Lifting incorrectly can seriously damage your body. If anything hurts you at all while doing any move, stop immediately.

4. Play sports.Okay, some are not athletically gifted. But getting a group together to play intramural basketball or soccer in our somewhat-half-sized gym is considered an intense workout. You will be surprised about how much faster you can run when there is a ball involved.

5. Switch off days between cardio and strength training.This rule is simple enough. If you run on Monday, try doing Pilates or Yoga on Tuesday. Remember what I said about our body being a master adapter? This is one way to switch up your workouts while maintaining a scheduled routine. Alternating cardio with core muscle building is not only healthier for your body, but it also is an easy way to switch up your exercises. If you are so inclined, you can combine both cardio and strength training in one session by alternating between the two.

6. Workout outside.Sometimes I find small, crowded gyms smelly and un-enjoyable to be in. Find a pretty path along the river or through a park and resume working out there. A change in scenery can instantly revamp any drab routine. You may find that your running experience will be more enjoyable outside than on a treadmill. It is even possible to walk to a desired location instead of taking the subway to sneak in more exercise to your day.

7. Buy a jump rope.As lame as this tip sounds, jumping rope can enable you to burn many calories and is tons of fun! In just 15 minutes of moderate speed jump rope, the average person burns up to 140 calories. You can even sing those loveable songs from grade school about strawberry shortcake.

8. Choose a hobby that involves exercise.There are many new classes or hobbies you can try that can count as your daily dose of activity. For example, dancing alone or with a group of friends is not only fun, but it counts as exercise too. More fun ideas are ice skating, kick-boxing, karate, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

9. Be creative.Seriously, just moving in any way, shape, or form is beneficial and can count as exercise. Doing 20 sit-ups or push-ups per day and walking to the 1 train can count as a full day's workout. Any physical activity is good without even setting foot anywhere near a gym.

10. Don't kill yourself if you skip a workout.Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable and fun, not a burden. Hence, it is important to cut yourself some slack. If you miss a day to write a paper or study for an exam, it is not the end of the world. You can pick it up another day instead. Just try not to make this mentality too habitual. It is possible to get a great workout in 15 minutes a day. Some exercise is better than none at all.

- NOTE: Personal trainer Danny Robinson was consulted for all of these ideas.

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