‘But it’s so booooring’, said Will. We have been good friends since university (more years ago than I’d care to admit), and, well, Will has started to put on a bit of a paunch!
We were talking about working out.
Will does not aspire to become the next male model, 6-pack and cut pecs and all the rest. He is fully aware of the benefits of regular exercise for long term health.
That spark, that motivation to get going… missing.
Sounds like a common story to me.
A genuine desire to get going with exercise – balanced by having no idea where to get started. A dread of boring, repetitive workouts that (mentally at least) don’t seem worth the supposed ‘benefits’.
Which Type of Home Fitness Equipment is the Least Boring?
I’m going to get to the main ways of keeping yourself entertained while you exercise in the next section. First, lets go through the main types of home exercise equipment and examine their potential.
- Exercise Bikes / Spinning Bikes: Peddling fast, peddling slow and upping the resistance to mimic a hill climb might not sound too interesting. Exercise bikes have one big advantage over other forms of home fitness machine… your head is mostly still. Add to that the relative quietness of a bike, and you can easily watch TV or YouTube while you pedal way.
- Treadmills: A walk, a jog, sprint for a bit and then back to a jog again. Some treadmills have auto-incline to vary things, others even include speakers. These are certainly not the best for watching a screen. Add your favourite music (or podcast) can make the time fly by.
- Stepping Machines: Unless you have some fitness superpowers, the average stepper session will be much shorter than for other machines – this is an intense workout, especially if you add the arm (resistance) bands to the mix. While that does mean you don’t have the time to get bored, it is hard to do much else and still focus on the stepping.
- Rowing Machines: The only differences during the workout is the resistance and speed. As a full-body workout with plenty of cardio benefits, rowing is popular. The simple action does make this suitable for listening to music or podcasts – though the movement means screens are not ideal.
- Elliptical Trainers / Cross Trainers: Another full body workout which involves a simple action (arms and legs together) with plenty of movement. Elliptical workouts can be intensive and short – great for those with shorter attention spans. Again, the movement means screens are less desirable, though you can train in front of the TV.
I could add in Vibration Plate trainers, climbers and abs equipment here – though that list above covers most of the bases.
The key criteria for whether a machine is more or less ‘boring’ involves the following:
- How much head movement (can you watch TV?)
- Variation in the action of the machine (intensity / speed / incline / different exercises)
- How long a typical session lasts (if you get bored easily, the shorter the better!)
Another Angle: How to Keep Yourself Entertained While Working Out
If you have read through the list and still can’t decide, you could look at it from the other direction. What forms of entertainment do you prefer?
TV / Internet Video: If you want to watch a screen while you work out, then you need to pick a format where your head is relatively static. Exercise bikes are ideal here, though treadmills and elliptical trainers are also candidates. On the opposite side, rowing machines and steppers involve a lot of movement.
Music: This works for most forms of exercise. For many people (including me), it is hard to imagine working out without it. Putting on your favourite albums or having a dedicated Spotify playlist can work wonders. If music is hard to put into your daily routine, working out can become a positive pleasure with the right tunes. Some studies show you’ll work out more intensively, and so get better results with the right (upbeat) sounds.
Podcasts / Radio: Podcasting has exploded in recent years. Whether you want to be entertained, or to learn something new, then combining podcasts with exercise works. This is best suited to the types of machine you spend longer on – for example treadmills, bikes or rowers. This format works for outdoor activities, especially running, too.
Once You Feel the Fitness Benefits the Boredom Naturally Dissipates
Of course, when you analyse the ‘action’ of each fitness machine and multiply this by the time spent it sounds daunting.
What people like Will (and maybe you!) need to keep in mind is that once you feel the benefits, working out can become a pleasure in itself. Not only will you feel the effects (both mentally and physically), you’ll be striving for more. This could be a better time, faster sprint or higher resistance. It could be managing your pulse-rate more effectively.
Once you get that fitness bug, you’ll be actively looking for new ways to enjoy exercise. What started with 3 months on your home fitness machine can morph into new group activities, new friends and a new appreciation of healthy living in general.
Next time someone tells you that working out is boring, ask them what forms of entertainment they prefer – and suggest they find an activity that allows them to enjoy it.
As for Will, bless him, still not working out… maybe one day!
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