by Tracie Guy-Decker
I admit it. My workouts are boring.
I’ve written here about how I rewrote my fitness goals to be achievable. I’m happy to report that it worked. I have become the kind of person who rarely misses a workout.
It’s been about three months during which I’ve rarely missed a workout. Each of those nearly 60 workouts has been nearly indistinguishable from the first: 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by some light stretching. A few times a week I add a no-work workout extension, and sit in the sauna for ten minutes.
I’m working out 5 or 6 times a week. I’m in as good physical shape as I ever have been. To be honest, I’m a little bored.
I’ve been looking into it, and whether, like me, you’re bored with an established routine or you’re still working to establish one, we can both benefit from some variety. Here are five ways:
1. Change happens through challenge, not comfort.
Whether we’re talking about psychological growth, political changes or physical strength and weight loss, positive change does not come through same-old, same-old. Three months ago, when I got on the elliptical, I struggled a little through my 30 minutes. This morning, it was old hat. That struggle three months ago was change happening. This morning’s 30 minutes was same-old same-old.
2. A well-rounded fitness regimen helps you control just where you’re rounded.
Many people experience a weight-loss plateau when they start a new regimen. That plateau can be evidence that their workouts need to be diversified. In my case, as the weather warms up, I’m catching sight of myself in the sleeveless looks of spring and summer. The woman in the mirror is quick to let me know that my startlingly similar workouts aren’t doing anything for my upper body strength, regardless of how regularly I perform them.
3. Fitness variety can be preventive medicine.
When I was younger, I was a serious runner. At the ripe age of 23, I did some serious damage to my iliotibial band. It was what you might describe as an overuse injury: damage caused by doing the same thing over and over and over again. Prevention of overuse is a lot easier than its treatment, though they are somewhat similar: let some muscles rest while you use others!
4. Boredom bites.
I started this article by admitting I’m bored with my workouts. For me, exercise serves as my non-pharmaceutical treatment for depression and stress. It’s too important for me to let boredom defeat it! I want to be excited about my time at the gym. It’s a medication of sorts, but it’s also my playtime. I want it to be fun.
5. Trying new things is just plain satisfying.
Researchers know, learning new skills—especially when the new tasks are balanced between challenging and overwhelming—releases the happy-drug dopamine. Research has also shown that trying new things improves positive emotions and minimizes negative ones.
I’m ready. Are you?
To make sure I walk that line between being challenged and being overwhelmed, I’m thinking of looking for a fitness class. I’m intrigued by the idea of Piloxing (Pilates and boxing? Now that sounds like a challenge worth trying.), especially when I think about how I’d like to look in my sleeveless summer dresses.
Meet me at the Simon Family JCC, and let’s try something new.
Tracie Guy-Decker is a freelance writer and artist. She and her husband, a Navy Chief, and their almost-three-year-old daughter share their home with two poorly behaved dogs and a six-toed cat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.