Changing up your exercise routine is a great way to keep your workouts fun and interesting. It’s easy to get bored if you stick to the same workout for too long. Whenever you find that happening, it’s time to move on to something new.
The dominant exercise I’ve been doing for the past several years has been running. Running is great because it’s so simple and convenient, but even with music, audio books, different routes, variable distances, hill training, or running partners, all that running eventually gets stale. A couple weeks ago, I decided I’d had enough running, so I opted to join a gym to spice things up a bit.
After touring a few local gyms (and enduring their silly high-pressure sales tactics), I eventually found one that suited me. In fact, it’s the nicest gym I’ve seen in my life. It’s a brand new two-story building that just opened a few months ago, and all the equipment is state-of-the-art. It has abundant cardio and weight training equipment, individual cable TVs with remotes at many stations, two pools, a spa, sauna, squash court, juice/sandwich bar, zillions of classes (yoga, pilates, dance, spinning, kick boxing, aquarobics, body sculpting, qigong, and lots more), daycare center, and an indoor track. And the pricing was great compared to other gyms (less than $15/month for the plan I chose). The guy who gave me the grand tour didn’t need to use any high-pressure sales tactics, nor did he try. They had me at “hello.”
I noticed that because the gym is so nice, I do much longer workouts. I used to go for 25-45 minute runs, with the occasional 60-90 minute run on weekends. Now I’m working out for 60-90 minutes every day, and I’m already noticing a boost in my energy levels. I do a mix of cardio and weight training, but there’s so much variety available that I can’t imagine ever getting bored. I especially like the cardio machines with built-in heart monitors. The difficulty adjusts in real-time to keep my heart rate in my aerobic range, which for me is about 150 beats per minute. That’s a lot more precise than I can get with running outdoors. I don’t know how long this feature has been around, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had a gym membership, but I’ve never belonged to one with so much variety. In the past I’ve also done biking, yoga, weight training, hiking, cardio machines (treadmill, stationary bike, stairs, etc), Tae Kwon Do, calisthenics, aerobics, and more. One year I had a personal trainer as well. I notice that whenever my workouts become dull and repetitive, switching to something new is a great way to liven things up. The newness makes exercise challenging again, and challenge makes it interesting. I found this especially true when I was learning Tae Kwon Do, which itself has a nice amount of variety (sparring, poomsae, board breaks, flexibility, etc).
If you’ve been doing the same type of exercise for a while, try switching things up, and see what it does to your motivation level. If you exercise alone, try going to classes like martial arts or yoga. Try swimming for a change of pace. Switch from indoor to outdoor exercise or vice versa. Move your body in ways you’ve never done before.
Don’t worry — the soreness will pass.
Of course if you’re not exercising at all, just be aware that not exercising is a greater health risk than smoking. Neglecting physical exercise is among the worst things you can do to your body. Use the 30-day trial approach to kickstart a new exercise program, and then use progressive training to gradually build up to a decent level of physical fitness.