It’s no secret that I prefer to exercise outdoors. I’ve always felt rather trapped in gyms – I know some people love the gym experience, but it’s just not for me. There are some moments, of course, when I must exercise inside. Last night was a perfect example – I was traveling in an unfamiliar city, it was dark out, and it was pouring. So to the gym I went!
Here are seven ways to make gym cardio a bit more bearable. Most of these techniques are simply Jedi mind tricks, but others will actually help you work new muscles in different ways. Win, win!
Trick #1: Towel over screen. The primary reason I hate cardio equipment is because I have to stare at a little clock that mockingly tells me how much longer I have to be there. Ugh. Cover it with a towel, and your workout will go by much, much faster.
Trick #2: Listen to Podcasts. I love to run outdoors to music, but for some reason, music doesn’t have the same effect when I’m on cardio equipment. Listening to a PodCast (I like This American Life) or a book on tape is great. I get lost in the story and pay less attention to my boring surroundings.
Trick #3: Change machines every 10 minutes. It’s really hard for me to stay on one piece of equipment for a full 30 minutes, so sometimes, I bounce between the treadmill, elliptical, the rower, or the stationary bike.
Trick #4: Write down a workout. If I am going to stay on the treadmill the entire time, I usually bring a Post-It with a planned workout. Constantly changing up the speed or hill according to the directions is distracting and fun. One of my favorites is this Rolling Intervals Treadmill Workout.
Trick #5: On that note, vary speed and intensity. Even if you don’t have a planned workout or aren’t on the treadmill, doing speedwork (occasional sprints) helps bust boredom. Sometimes, I do the pre-planned elliptical workouts so the machine will change the settings automatically for me.
Trick #6: Go backwards. When in doubt, change direction. Yes, I am that person who walks (very carefully and slowly) backwards on the treadmill up an incline. I also elliptical backwards. You engage different muscles and challenge your coordination and balance. A trainer once told me that it’s very important not to hang onto the side rails while walking backwards because it compromises posture, so I just hover my hands over the rails so I can catch myself if necessary. It’s fun, too! Just go slow and be careful.
Trick #7: Carry weights. If I’m not in the mood to run on the treadmill, or am doing walk/run intervals, I’ll grab two barbells and do bicep curls, punch the air, or mini overhead presses while I walk. It’s important you don’t let you mind wander too much while doing this because proper form, of course, is of the utmost importance.
How do you beat gym cardio boredom?