It’s pathetically easy to end up in an exercise-less rut, and I’m especially guilty of that. 

Right now, it’s been more than a week since I’ve even set foot inside the gym, and even longer since I’ve actively gone for more than two days in a row. I’ve got two problems here, and I think they’re pretty common. First, I’ve let other commitments creep in from the side – in this case, my regular 9 to 5 (or 6 or 7) job – and dominate the time I’d put into going for a run or to the gym. Secondly, I’ve fallen out of love with my routine.

If the gym were a girlfriend, she would have dropped me like the flaky deadbeat I am. So, how do you get the exercise spark back?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

First up, change your routine every four to six weeks, both to challenge your mind and your body – my first step going forward. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running, swimming, doing gym work, taekwondo, whatever, repeating the same thing over and over and over is boring. And if you’re not seeing any new results despite putting in the effort, it’s easy to feel defeated before you’ve even stepped through the door. Plus, after a month of the same routine, your body is used to it, and your muscles need to be shocked to stimulate new potential.

There are hundreds if not thousands of sites online that will offer a new routine, or you could make your gym earn those fees you pay by asking the guys behind the counter what they do when they feel bored. They want to keep you there (because you’re paying their wages) so they should be happy to help.

Make a new friend

If you’re still looking for a fresh perspective, go with a mate and see what they do. If none of your friends use the same gym, make a new friend there. It would be incomprehensible that your gym doesn’t have a Facebook page or Twitter account that you could use to ‘advertise’ for like-minded people to work out with you. Either way, the idea is to check out their moves and make yourself accountable to someone other than you.

If you’re not in a position to include others, make a daily game of some aspect of your exercise. A close friend, determined not to have any ‘off’ days, keeps a running tally of the consecutive days he does a specified number of push-ups. Although the actual number doesn’t mean he’s in any danger of his pecs busting out the side of his shirt, he’s probably more mentally fit than he was before, as there are well over a hundred marks on his calendar of the days he’s completed his set number of reps. It’s probably one of the best habits he has.

Get chased by zombies

Or you could use an actual game. Instead of Googling for stupid cat videos on your phone, download ‘Zombies, Run!’, which is available for both iOS and Android. Rather than a straight-up fitness app (useful but boring), it attempts to motivate by setting a horde of virtual zombies after you, and gives updates on how much further you have to go before you’ve outpaced the undead. It’s amazing how hard you can push yourself when there’s a flesh-eating monster nipping at your heels. Zombies, Run! has been around for a while now, and there’s a pretty decent-sized community of people using it, so you’re never short of a challenge.

Those were the days

Still need inspiration? This one’s a bit of tough love: pepper your ceiling, hallway, bathroom or wherever with photos of your ‘old’ self. These pics are of the person you either never want to be again, or pics of when you were at the peak time in your life and are striving to be like again.

That urge to succeed will flood back, and you can do yourself one more favour, too. Once you’ve committed to getting up early, or setting a time for doing exercise, don’t talk yourself out of it. Don’t even engage in the conversation of thinking ‘I can do it tomorrow’, because we both know it won’t happen. Once you have your shoes and gear on, the hardest step you’ll take is the first, and even on the worst days, you can at least say to yourself “I tried”.

Paul Taylor


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