Guess what? Summer is officially here, and you know what that means: Beaches, summer dresses, and cocktails with mini umbrellas in them. What that also means for me is that after all my hard work in the gym and eating right during those long cold months, I can finally shed the layers of clothes I’ve been covered in and slip into my flip flops and shorts with pride. *does cartwheels*
I don’t know about you, but the summer always lifts my mood and helps take my mind off the little annoyances that plague me throughout the year–including work, bills, and treading through knee-deep snow. It’s also a time for me to reformat my workout routine and take advantage of the great weather. Which brings me to a recent conversation I had with someone who lamented about how “boring” working out can be. As someone who’s been active for years, I have to say I couldn’t fathom the idea that it could be boring. But if you’re like many others who find working out more work than fun, I’ve compiled a list of my own tried and true ways to enhance your workout and enjoy your next sweat session:
Pump up the volume. No matter what your workout is–running, walking, spinning, lifting, dancing, etc–it is absolutely imperative that you bring along a great playlist. Remember Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, running in place while listening to classic 80s tunes? Working out and great music go hand in hand. Jamming to your favorite tunes is seriously like having a small party in your head. You’ll be rocking so hard, you may even forget that you’re actually giving your body a great workout. And whose mood isn’t instantly lifted after listening to Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling” on full blast? I know mine is.
Switch up your routine. As adults, we’re used to falling into a drone-like structure of doing things according to a rigid schedule. But working out is not the thing you want to simply check off your to-do list. You know why? Because it will start to end up like a chore–something you’re doing because you have to, not because you want to. And, like many of our daily responsibilities, we may come to resent it. So are you bored with spin class, or are not finding it effective? Try zumba, or go walking in the park (where you can also people watch and see some fresh faces) or hit the pavement amd go roller blading. Not into sweating out in the sun? Try a beginner’s yoga DVD in your home, and learn how simple stretches and poses can help tone your body. The point is, try different activities that you enjoy so that you’re not doing the same thing each time you work out. That way, you’re also building a new set of hobbies.
Get a workout buddy. For the most part, I work out on my own unless I’m taking a fitness class at the gym. But I know many people who prefer to go running with a friend or bring someone with them to a hip-hop dance class. Not only does bringing a pal along help motivate you to work out, but it also helps you feel less self-conscious and more comfortable. Plus, you have someone you can talk to and gab about Hollywood gossip and the latest episode of your favorite TV show. Just don’t get so caught up in the conversation that you’re skimping on the workout.
Be a social butterfly. I know many of us Blerds are introverts and may not be totally comfortable with approaching strangers. But if you if you see some of the same faces on your running path, give a little smile or wave hello. (If you’re at the gym, strike up a conversation with a familiar face). Note: outside runners aren’t usually the sit-down-and-chat type, but they’ll recognize you and acknowledge you each time they see you. Who knows, maybe you’ll get invited to a summer barbecue. It’s been known to happen. If nothing else, at least you pushed yourself out of your shell and can take comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one blazing a trail in the wee hours of the morning (or whenever you choose to work out).
Revamp your fitness gear. It may sound very 4th grade, but kicking off a new season with new clothes and supplies is way more fun than it seems. If your budget allows, start the summer with a shiny new helmet, bike, spiffy new workout clothes to get you back in the spirit (tip: craigslist and Old Navy have pretty great deals on these types of things). I can’t tell you how excited I get when I rip the tags off a new pair of running shoes or bike shorts. I’m a firm believer that bright, bold, happy colors like yellow, royal blue or hot pink put an extra swing in your step. It recharges your “routine,” and may even garner a few compliments (which might also help you with #4).
Change your attitude. Working out may not be the same as catching a late night movie with friends, or partying at your favorite club, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! If you go in to your workout feeling grumpy or discouraged, you may miss out on other important things your workout offers: social opportunities, site seeing, and a chance to shut off your worries and focus on building an even better you. Remember: working out is also a stress reliever and helps you re-energize. So start your next workout with a smile on your face and ready to take charge. Having a mantra may even help. I’m ripping this one right off an awesome T-shirt I saw online and sharing it with you: “I work out because I love my body, not because I hate it.” *insert fist pump here*
So the next time you grunt and groan about working out, remember these six principles and take this summer by the balls! Have fun, be confident and stay beautiful.