It happens to everyone from time to time: you’re a fan of the gym until you suddenly feel that it’s just not doing it for you anymore. You’re bored, not noticing many physical improvements, and maybe even come to loathe the thought of going. If the feeling lingers, you don’t have to give into it. Instead, follow these seven tips to learn to love the gym again.
1. Go with friends
If you often go to the gym alone, you may find yourself often feeling bored or unmotivated. However, friends may introduce you to a piece of equipment you’ve never tried or encourage you to use that treadmill for 10 minutes longer than normal. Their healthy habits may rub off on you, creating changes that could make a difference to your fitness goals. This isn’t to say you have to go with friends every single time—after all, sometimes alone time is just what you crave while working out—but you might be surprised at how getting together at the gym can get you out of your gym rut.
2. Change the music you listen to
It’s no secret that music is a huge workout motivator. Not only is it fun to listen to your favorite tunes, but research has shown that it also acts as a good distraction during exertion, helps you work out more effectively, and can actually induce movement. That’s why it’s a good idea to update your playlist every so often; repeatedly listening to the same songs can lead to boredom and even stall your gym routine.
Also read: Are Six Pack Abs Made in the Gym or Kitchen?
Experts suggest listening to songs with fast and stronger beats since they’ve been found to be the most motivating while exercising; studies have found that college students, for example, have a preference for hip-hop, rock, and pop (in that order). They’ve also discovered that people tend to naturally gravitate towards tunes that are around 120 beats per minute, and that 145 beats per minute seem to be the preference threshold—any further increase in beats doesn’t seem to lead to performance improvements.
3. Vary your fitness routine
Unless you’re training for a marathon or have a medical reason to adhere to a very specific routine, consider changing things up—step outside your comfort zone and break away from the familiar. Experts say that trying new equipment or doing a routine in reverse forces your body to use new movements and grips which in turn, works muscles differently and makes you feel as though you’re doing a brand new routine.
Try a new class, vary your treadmill incline, use the leg adductor before the leg abductor, or try the elliptical (my personal favorite) instead of always hopping on the bike. Changes—large or small—can breathe fresh life into your gym activities.
4. Talk with other gym members
Of course, working out is a time to focus on your physical goals, not chat up a storm with the person next to you. However, there are moments when it’s appropriate to engage in small talks, such as when you find yourself entering the gym at the same time as someone else. Sometimes a quick “Hi!” or positive comment about another member (“Wow, can you believe how easy he makes that look?”) can lead to a brief exchange, which can do everything from shift your focus away from your tiredness to making you feel more engaged with people—if only for a moment—instead of a machine.
Getting in better shape and staying healthy doesn’t mean you must hit the gym every day. In fact, fitness experts recommend against that, saying it’s important to take at least one day off every week. Doing so gives your muscles a chance to repair, reduces your risk of injury, and allows you to mentally recharge. It could be that you’re falling into a rut of exercising too much. While it may sound like this tip goes against becoming more fit, just the opposite is true—rest is beneficial, and without it, you might even hit fitness plateaus. Breaking that gym rut just may mean avoiding it entirely for a day here and there!
6. Push yourself
If you’re not noticing differences in your body or energy levels, try stepping it up a notch. For example, if you typically run at 6 miles per hour, bump up the treadmill pace to 6.1 or 6.3. While that might not sound significant, it’s enough for you to notice slight changes in your breath and stride without overdoing it. Likewise, try using 8-pound weights instead of 5-pound ones, or do three sets of a certain routine instead of your usual two. The options are endless and can make a big difference both mentally and physically.
7. Change your attitude
Finally, if you’re someone who dreads going to the gym, no wonder you feel like you’re in a rut. Of course, you’re going to be bored and not really able to focus on fitness goals when you’re always thinking about how you could be shopping instead. Rather than focusing on the many reasons you’re not a fan of working out, take steps to shift your thoughts so you think about how it’s helping you and doing something good for your body and mind. Change “I could be out shopping” to “but I could also be sitting in traffic or in a boring meeting.” Develop a positive mindset and remember, you’re doing your overall health a favor—there’s nothing silly or stupid about fitness.
Incorporating these can help you break out of your gym routine and keep you on track. So go ahead! Boost that treadmill incline, go to the gym with friends, listen to new music, and think positively.