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There are plenty of good reasons that fitness routines get derailed. Maybe you had a baby and haven't made it back to the gym. Perhaps your still-healing sprained ankle won't support a daily run. Maybe your gorgeous Spinning instructor has been out of town and without him, what's the point? Whatever the reason, it's hard to get back on once you get off track. But before you shelve your sneakers for good, read how other FITNESS readers got past their biggest roadblocks.1. "I Was Bored So I..." Trained for a Race
"To conquer my workout monotony, I signed up for a marathon and began to seriously train for it," says Abby Katzen, 34, a freelance writer and publicist in New York City. "Putting the race on my calendar got me totally revved up, and following a training schedule gave me structure and really helped to motivate me. I love being able to keep track of which days I run, how fast and how far I go, and when it's time to increase my mileage."Got Competitive
It took a squash lesson at her gym to get Monica Musero's juices flowing. "What was missing from my normal exercise routine was a competitive component," says the 32-year-old director of development from New York City. "Now I practice on my own, take lessons, and even compete in tournaments."Tried Something New
Even the pros get bored occasionally. To keep her workouts interesting, Rebeccah Wassner, 30, a professional triathlete from New York City, engages in a completely different activity, such as Pilates, during the off season. "I strengthened and stretched muscles that I normally don't work and gave my mind a rest from the stress of competition," she says.
"I put in long hours, and it can be hard to get to the gym. On days I can't fit in a formal workout, I make sure I walk the 60 minutes to and from work," says Emily Eynon, 26, a financial research analyst in New York City. Even stormy days don't discourage her: "The bad weather actually makes me go faster! And I keep an extra umbrella at the office in case it's raining." If you can't commute on foot, do a fast-paced walk during your lunch hour.Scheduled A.M. Workouts
"Once I had kids, my workout schedule became erratic. For six years, I was yo-yo exercising -- on one month, off for two. But switching to morning sessions has helped me stay consistent," says Lisa Cruger, a 35-year-old teacher from Haverstraw, New York. She takes an early-morning Spinning class twice a week and also weight-trains three days a week. "I leave the gym at 6:30, so I can wake the kids, and we're all out the door by 8."Snuck in Afternoon Sessions
Even though Adrienne Tabo's workdays are long and hectic, she noticed that late in the afternoons she had a pocket of time she could set aside for exercise. "I go hiking in the hills near my office," says the 33-year-old architect from Tustin, California. A bonus: "I often have to work late at night, so the trek serves as an energizing break. I come back mentally sharper when most people are combating an afternoon slump!"
Before Elizabeth Braveman, 30, a nutrition educator from Denver, broke her wrist, she focused on strength-training her upper body. The injury forced Elizabeth to consider new options, including using lower-body weight machines and the stairclimber at the gym. "I looked at it as an opportunity to try a more well-rounded routine. As a result, I'm in much better shape overall."Sought a Friend's Help
"When I started working out again after my back surgery, I was really worried that I'd reinjure myself," says Kristy Lane-Glicksman, a 30-year-old nurse from Boulder, Colorado. To help boost her confidence and comfort level, Kristy works out with a friend. "She tells me if my form is off or if I'm favoring my injury. This way, I can adjust and stay safe."Took It Slow
A knee injury made Dora Bank, a 31-year-old marketing manager from New York City, eager to return to her regular routine. "As soon as I felt better, I'd take a cycling class or go for a run. Then my knee would swell up and hurt for days. I finally realized I was slowing down my recovery and that I needed to be patient and let my body heal."
"I used to swim five days a week, but now I get my exercise by pushing my daughter's stroller for two miles every day," says 38-year-old stay-at-home mom Patricia Herren of Kihei, Hawaii. "The resistance helps me burn more calories than walking alone would, and I make sure that I walk briskly and cover a lot of hilly terrain so I'm really working my legs and glutes!"Turned My Living Room into a Gym
"A few days a week I spend an hour either on the treadmill or doing videos while my son's taking a nap," says Tiffany Morton, 33, a real-estate agent in Rockwall, Texas. "I also hired a trainer who designed a strength-training routine and showed me the proper form for a workout using resistance bands, a stability ball, and weights."
"I couldn't stand going to the gym," says Gerri Bouse, 40, from Laguna Niguel, California, who found she could get motivated to work out only if she had a big event coming up, like her wedding three years ago. After getting tired of storing three sizes of clothing in her closet because she was caught up in the vicious cycle of gaining and losing weight, she tried a one-hour high-intensity cardio and sculpting class held in a nearby park. "I loved that it was both social and outdoors. Now I get a total-body workout, and I'm having a blast doing it."Hired a Trainer
"Being financially accountable helps me stick with it, and I like having a relationship with someone who cares about my health and well-being," says Tracy Mendes, 37, a chief administrative officer for a house-painting contractor from Orange, California. If hiring a trainer is too big a strain on your wallet, try sharing her with one or two friends; this will cut down on your fees.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2006.