Every January, I guilt myself into conjuring up the goal of exercising regularly, and like most New Year’s goals, the motivation dies down around mid-February. There has to be others like me, wanting to be fit for whatever reason, dreaming of flaunting our shimmering and toned limbs to the awed masses as we run our daily errands. But instead we’re sitting on our bums watching Arrested Development, pinning exercise motivation on our Pinterest boards and not doing a damn thing about it.
Following an exercise “routine” doesn’t do it for me. It sounds too much like work, and twists my stomach almost as much as when I hear the phrase “nine-to-five” or “cubicle”. I need fun, novelty, and foolishness.
For those who may be in the same boat, I want to share with you 14 ways in which we can make the blood-pumping feel less like work and more like play in some conventional and unconventional ways.
- Obtain and set aside some rockin’ workout-only attire - I never liked how magazines seem to think we’re all rolling in dollar bills. Take out the “dollar” and it seems more accurate. You don’t need name brand shorts to get fit, but having a basic workout outfit that you think you look good in makes the mirror your motivation. Check out my workout attire above. Save aside $100 bucks for your own. (And please invest in a good pair of sneakers!)
- Rope in a workout buddy - (and yes – sex counts!) Share workout tips, become the other’s drill sergeant. Not a people person? Walk with your dog!
- Reward chart - My boyfriend and I came up with a system: we get a star every day we workout, ten stars is a date. This way we have something to strive for and we remember to get out of the house. (I’ve been thinking of upping the stakes and making the last person to reach ten pay for the date!)
- Follow someone’s journey - This is the first time in my 22 years of living that I’ve wanted to exercise. Why? Because a cohort from my undergrad decided she didn’t like how she looked in the mirror and did something about it. Her Instagram photos of healthy meals, triumphs with crossfit, and outstanding progress has been one of my most prominent and initial motivators. Check out her blog.
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- Subscribe to or check out fitness magazines – Immerse yourself into the world of fitness! What is a gu? How long is a 5K? I didn’t know either, but I learned by flipping through these during my lunch breaks. They are also filled with stories of ordinary people just like us, who got their butts in gear for one reason or another. Inspiration abound.
- Use social media- There is something empowering about posting that mid-workout picture, makeup-less and beading with sweat. People admire you for these things, and you may even become someone else’s motivation. The same girl I mentioned above, she challenged her Instagram followers to like her picture. For every “like” she received, she and her friend would do one burpee. Not long after, she shared a video of them completing 60. Have your friends challenge you! And have them cheer you on.
- Don’t feel like being social? Stay glued to your phone - There are some creative apps out there that encourage you to move your legs and explore. I recently installed Ingress, but there are many different types of exploration-inducing apps. Geocaching is a fun treasure-hunt that will have you hiking through dense wooded areas, searching large parking lots, and backtracking until you find a cache. One I’ve been wanting to try is Zombies, Run! Put that survival instinct to work
- Vary your routine – I get bored easily, and my magazine cut-outs of my crossfit inspired routine are crumpled and outdated. Change it up when your routine starts to feel drab. Follow a Youtube workout video, do all the exercises shown in a magazine, challenge yourself to do every routine a friend pins on Pinterest. You’re bound to find one that is fun or fulfilling to keep you busy for the next few weeks.
- Watch TV, but not on the couch – Okay, so maybe I don’t want to stop watching Arrested Development. Not a problem, I can easily do butterfly crunches on my yoga mat while marathoning some AD. How can you not have fun and forget the burn in your belly while watching this? You can even challenge yourself to jumping jacks during commercials or create a game out of your favorite show. Like Deadwood? One push up every time someone drops the F-bomb, anyone?
- Sign yourself up for a 5K – they are short, there’s typically no pressure to run the whole time, and you can brag about how much fun you had! I signed up for my first 5K coming up in August of this year: The Color Run. What motivated me was seeing all the smiling faces and bright, colorful photos on Facebook of friends who’ve done it before. There are many themed 5Ks and ones to run for a good cause too. Do them! Start a 5K log! Get sponsors! So many potential once in a lifetime experiences.
- Who knew volunteering could work the body? - Ever painted window sills, served a Thanksgiving meal to the homeless, or trimmed and raked truck-fulls of yard debris for a neighborhood? Giving back is good for the mind and the muscles. Get your heart pumping building a home for your local Habitat for Humanity or find other volunteer opportunities for you and maybe a group of friends to work toward together.
- Disguise it as a hangout – Ice skating, swimming, hiking in your nearest nature reserve – these are all things my friends and I do, and I secretly laugh and chuckle to myself because I know I’m sneaking in a good workout for us all.
- Be silly - Hold a concert in your shower in which you’re the next Beyonce. Practice your dance moves as you soak it up so you can show off to your friends… Or maybe you’ll want to keep it to yourself. Either way, there are so many routine activities we do throughout our day in which we just stand there. Do some squats as you brush your teeth. Just switch it up!
- Be imaginative – When all else fails, you’ve always got your mind and its endless possibilities and creativity. One of my absolute favorite exercises are squat runs. (I love this workout video, by the way. Because even though it is strange to get workout advice from girls less than half my age, that is all the more reason I want to be fit. If they can do it, I can.) Anyway, squat runs are very fun. Pretend you’re being chased by your worst fear or imagine you’re running a race in the Olympics and your entire country is waiting on bated breath for your triumphant burst through the finish line. You’re almost there… you can see it. But wait, Jamaica is catching up to you. Sprint harder, go faster… five. more. seconds. And, YOU DID IT!
These may not be the most intense ways to exercise, but if you haven’t been doing anything or you’re in an exercise slump and your gear is collecting dust, I feel this is a great start. These are all the ways I aim to turn workout into play time. Try some out and let me know how it works for you. Also, since I’m a bit bothered by the number 14, help me round out this number to 15 and share a way you’ve made your workout more exciting!