How to Make Gym Workouts Survivable

As runners, we are used to the freedom of being outside and being able to choose our running routes or just being spontaneous while being outside. Let’s be honest; gym workouts are a sad alternative to this. It’s usually hot, cramped, and crowded. I always feel like people are watching me while I workout which is just really uncomfortable, needless to say, I avoid the gym when I can. But sometimes, it’s just unavoidable. Maybe it’s too hot or too cold out, or you’re on vacation so you don’t feel comfortable running in an area you don’t know. Or maybe it’s just the most convenient in your schedule. No matter what the reason, we all go to the gym at one point or another and ultimately it’s never fun to run on a treadmill with many other people next to you for an hour. It makes me feel like a hamster to be honest. But I have developed a few habits and tips when I go to the gym to make it more bearable and… maybe even fun?

Listen to NEW MUSIC: Sure, running to your favorite artists is great, but I find that it gets me into a routine and eventually hearing the same music over and over again (even if it’s your favorite Taylor Swift pump-up playlist…) can fade into the background. But listening to new music will keep things fresh and exciting! Whenever I go to the gym, I pick a random Spotify playlist and play it for 20 minutes, then chose an entirely different playlist (and so on…). It keeps things fresh, gives you something other than your treadmill to concentrate on, and it might even help you find a new favorite artist. I discovered that I really enjoy 2000’s pop-punk while running; who knew? It’s a great way to expand your horizons and keep you from getting bored.

Bring a friend: Try to drag one of your friends to the gym with you! Don’t worry if they’ve never been before; most gyms have free guest passes that go with your membership so you can get them in for free. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a workout buddy who will motivate you to try harder during core, or up the speed on your treadmill. Also, personally I feel self conscious doing weights and core alone at the gym, but with a friend, you’re not alone. I find myself in better spirits and feeling more motivating when I have a workout buddy. However, I don’t recommend bringing multiple friends; you don’t want to take up a whole row of machines or gossip too loudly. Don’t be those people, please. You’ll just annoy other people trying to get through their own workout.

Change the machines up: Gyms have so many machines, it would be a crime to just stick to the treadmill and bore yourself to death. I like to alternate (if possible) from the treadmill, to bicycle, to elliptical on 20 minute intervals to keep things interesting. They are all leg strength/cardio machines, so they are serving roughly the same purpose. One of my favorite things to do is go forwards on the elliptical 5 minutes, backwards another 5, and so on. You might get some weird looks, but trust me, it’s fun and it gets some variety into your workout. So next time you’re at the gym, try a new machine out. As runners we go out and run everyday, so why use the treadmill for another hour when you can try something new

Watch TV: If your gym has TVs on your equipment, take full advantage of it! On my really lazy days I jump on the treadmill and flip directly to the Food Network channel. The content isn’t too heavy or dramatic and it reminds me of all the yummy food I get to eat when I get through my workout! I like to use kind of a fartlek style if I’m watching while running. I’ll run at an average pace during the show, and pick up the intensity during the commercials. This makes the time fly by so much faster! I’ve even watched the news while on a treadmill. It helps me multitask by both exercising and keeping up with the world at the same time. Honestly, it makes me walk away from the gym feeling 150% more accomplished and educated. If this is possible for you, I’d highly recommend giving it a try!

With all this being said, it’s important to still be aware of your surroundings and body. I’ve been so carried away with my music that I didn’t notice the person behind me waiting for a turn, and once I was so engaged in watching Iron Chef that I over did it on the treadmill and had sore shins for the whole week. So while you should try out new ways to keep the gym exciting, it’s also important to not get too carried away.

ps. unfortanutly, this article doesn’t have any photos because my gym does not allow pictures in the workout area as courtesy of other people. 

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