Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Have you noticed that you’re on autopilot at the gym lately, doing the same old moves session after session? Maybe that’s why they call it a fitness “routine.” Yes, consistency and dedication to your workouts is important, but if you find yourself getting into a rut—or worse, getting bored with the same old/same old—it’s definitely time to shake things up!
“It’s easy to slip into a fitness rut, because mastering a certain workout or routine feels good—and as humans, we like things that are familiar and comfortable,” says Aurora Sekine, community fitness manager and ACE-certified group fitness instructor at Trainiac. “But change doesn’t happen when we’re comfortable. Sustaining fitness as a part of your lifestyle requires finding balance between having structure and changing things up.”
The Benefits of Breaking Free
Sekine tries not to think about fitness and exercise as a “routine” at all, because the moment something becomes a routine, your mind isn’t engaged and your body isn’t being challenged. Plus, breaking free from a fitness routine benefits both your body and mind.
“When you do the same exercises on repeat with the same reps and intensity, you are only working certain parts of your muscles,” she says. “Shifting around the different variables of specific exercise or activity, intensity, reps, and/or duration allows you to train your body more holistically—achieving a more balanced body. It also helps prevent injuries from overworking certain muscles. Your mind also needs to be challenged in order to stay engaged in exercise. When you enjoy working out and look forward to it, motivation for exercise shifts from extrinsic to intrinsic. Once you have intrinsic motivation to exercise, you are unstoppable!”
How can you refresh your fitness routine?
So are you ready to exchange your boring routine for a fresh fitness start in 2019? Begin with these suggestions:
1. Go with a friend.
Two is better than one, right? When you plan to exercise with a friend, Sekine says you have an added layer of accountability built in, so it’s harder to bail. It’s also a little less intimidating to try something new when you have a partner in crime.
Tip: Instead of setting up a coffee or dinner date with your friend, next time try a fitness date. Check out your local gym or fitness studio’s group fitness calendar and sign up to take a class together (extra points if you choose one neither of you have ever had the guts to try). Most gyms and studios offer drop-in rates to take a single class; just ask.
Training with a friend will help you stay accountable, because making plans to train together makes it harder to cancel a workout.
2. Diversify your menu of options.
There are several apps that offer flexible fitness memberships, which provide you with myriad fitness and class options to explore. “These are great alternatives and allow you to experience a diverse class and/or gym setting, all while getting in a great workout and moving closer to your health and wellness goals,” says Geoff Tripp, an NSCA-certified personal trainer, and strength and conditioning specialist who serves as the head of fitness at Trainiac. “The convenience of having your activity needs met on your schedule is what the fitness app revolution is all about.”
Tip: With apps such as Classpass or FitReserve, you can experiment with yoga, Pilates, cycling, running, HIIT, strength training, and custom personal training to see what floats your boat—all with the touch of a button and from the comfort of your own home.
3. Give yourself structured rest.
Your body needs to rest in order to recover from exercise —but, Sekine says, that rest doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch. In fact, giving yourself structured rest allows you to explore ways to find balance in mind and body.
Tip: Try a few minutes of mindful breathing (a form of meditation) before you start your day. Meditation doesn’t have to take hours or be in a special place at a specific time — you can experiment with what works for you (for instance, Sekine takes a few minutes right after she wakes up each morning, because it helps set the tone for the rest of her day). Restorative yoga classes are also a great way to give a framework to your rest day.
4. Hire a trainer.
Personal trainers specialize in helping you build a fitness plan that works for your body and lifestyle. Plus, they are a fount of knowledge when it comes to different types of exercises to help you mix up your routine.
Tip: Online training is a great way to get affordable access to a personal trainer on your own time (without having to fight traffic to get to the gym after work or wait for a super sweaty person to get off the machine you want to use).
5. Join an outdoor activity group.
In most cities, you can find outdoor activity clubs and groups for little to no cost — the group’s organizer does all the heavy lifting of research and planning, and you just show up for the hike (or run, cycle, tennis match, you name it). This allows you to explore new scenery in your own city, get some exercise outside, and add like-minded people to your social circle.
Tip: A quick Google search in your city will yield some results of outdoor groups or clubs, or you can use a site such as Meetup.