I’m reposting some oldies but goodies this week.  Hope you enjoy!


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?



  • JessicaR July 19, 2014, 2:42 pm

    I do cardio at the gym, but I never go on any of the machines unless it’s just for a quick warm-up. I always make up or find online HIIT cardio routines and do those instead. They are high-paced and full of variety, so I never get bored. 🙂

  • Rachel July 19, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Regarding Tip #6 –I worked at a gym for 4 and a half years, and walking backwards on a treadmill really is not any more beneficial than using it properly. Just more likely that you’re going to go slower, get less of a work out, and more likely you’re going to trip or something stupid.

  • Samantha July 20, 2014, 1:50 am

    you mean two dumbells when you do cardio, not barbells 😉

  • Sabrina @ Nutritiously Sweet March 18, 2015, 1:37 pm

    I sometimes use weights with the treadmill too! Sometimes I just need to crunch some strength and cardio into one. Spinning really helps me get cardio in because I am busy paying attention to the instructor as opposed to if I was on a bike.

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