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Beat Workout Boredom

When your brain abandons your workout routine, your body is soon to follow. Here's how to bust out of almost any exercise rut and get back your motivation.

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Reggie Casagrande
Chris Fanning
Jay Sullivan
Chris Fanning
Sarah Kehoe
Dorit Thies
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Sick of Going Solo

Instant replay: Become a groupie to automatically get a workout buddy or two. Walkers can find a local pack at, runners at, and swimmers at Or hook up with a virtual partner right here on our site to keep yourself motivated! Head to the message boards and start posting your interests to connect with like-minded exercisers in your area.

Find a workout buddy here!

Gear shift: Invite friends over for a Wii Fit challenge. Play your way into great shape with All Star Cheer Squad or Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2 with Dance Mat ($40 to $70,

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Tired of the Treadmill

Instant replay: "The number-one mistake runners make is going one speed, at one incline, every workout," says trainer Jamie Norcini, who teaches treadmill/elliptical classes at Clay in New York City. His love-it-again solution? Play with the control panel. After a 5-minute warm-up, jog for 2 minutes (at 5.5 mph, for example), then walk for 2 minutes (at 3.5 mph) or sprint (at 7.0 mph) -- surprise yourself! Repeat for 20 to 30 minutes. Or work the treadmill into a circuit, says Norcini. Place a pair of 5- to 8-pound dumbbells beside the machine, and jump off every 3 minutes to do 1 minute of arm toners.

Gear shift: Run intervals with Serena Williams! Download an audio Nike Plus Coaching Run on iTunes ($15).

Get new treadmill routines here

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Done Spinning My Wheels (and Not Going Anywhere)

Instant replay: Whether you take a studio cycling class or pedal on a stationary bike, bring your mind (and the motivation) back into your workout, says Spinning instructor Karen Dubs of Maryland Athletic Club & Wellness Center in Baltimore. Set a positive intention before each biking session that answers the question, "How do I want to feel?" "Wishing for Beyonce's legs just isn't going to give you the motivation you need. Think, 'I want to be energized' instead," Dubs says. The uplifting mental push will help you work harder from the inside (straight from the core) out. Each time your instructor lowers the intensity (to where you're working at about half your maximum effort), repeat your energy-up mantra over and over in your head until the pace accelerates again.

Solo cyclers: Create a 30-minute playlist of your favorite high-energy hits, then change the way you ride with every song -- crank up the resistance, stand up and cycle, pedal faster, etc. The new tunes and techniques will help keep things fresh.

Get our top song picks for Spinning

Gear shift: Stuck at home with your stationary bike? Pop in an On the Road DVD ($35, and cruise through the Adirondacks or do a triathlon-distance ride around Madison, Wisconsin -- all without leaving your living room.

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Annoyed with the Elliptical

Instant replay: Take your workout in a different direction. Literally! After 4 minutes at a steady pace, set the resistance to 8 and do 4 strokes forward, then 4 strokes backward, repeating for 2 minutes before returning to your original pace for another 4 minutes, Norcini suggests. Bonus: Every time you change direction, you work your core to maintain balance.

Gear shift: Strap on a Polar heart-rate monitor like the RS200 ($170, and give your elliptical session a goal. The monitor's easy-to-read screen lets you know how hard you're working on a scale of 1 to 5 -- try to maintain a level 3, or switch up your resistance and speed regularly to see which zone you jump into.

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Done with Downward Dog

Instant replay: With so many yoga hybrids to sample, there's no need to get stuck in a holding pattern. Our fave fun twists on typical classes: Iron Yoga (includes weights;, Hip Hop Yoga (think Kanye and Rihanna;, Pole Yoga (asanas meet striptease;, Antigravity Yoga (strike poses in a hammock suspended from the ceiling;, and Buddha Camp (yoga, tai chi, and Pilates all in one; Or try this modern "hot dog" variation of everyone's favorite traditional pose from yoga instructor Sadie Nardini, owner of the Fierce Club yoga studio in New York City: Begin in downward dog (body in an inverted V position, palms and feet on mat, hips pushed toward ceiling). Lift left leg straight up, keeping hips even, left toes pointed toward floor. Holding left leg straight, lift it higher, pulsing up and down 5 times. Exhale and bring left knee in toward chest, rounding back and shifting shoulders forward, above wrists. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Return to start. Do 3 reps; switch sides and repeat.

Gear shift: Uninspired by your yoga mat? Upload a favorite photo onto to have it printed on an eco-friendly PVC-free mat ($85).

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I've Worn Out My Weight Routine

Instant replay: Quit counting reps, says Los Angeles-based trainer Lalo Fuentes. Instead, lift until you can't go one rep further with good form, then move on. And tinker with your technique. Do fewer reps with Fuentes' Freeze method: Pause at several points throughout each move to work your muscles better. For example, while doing a biceps curl, pause for 1 count each when the weights are one-quarter of the way up, halfway up, three-quarters of the way up and all the way up. Lower slowly. Fast results will restore your interest in iron!

Gear shift: Swap dumbbells for kettlebells ($30 for a 10-pound weight, Your body counteracts the ball's momentum when you swing it, so you end up toning muscles you didn't even know you had. Start with celeb trainer Missy Beaver's Misfit's Kettlebell Basix DVD ($20,

Try our Amazing 37-Minute Kettlebell Workout

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So Over Pounding the Pavement

Instant replay: Multitask through the miles to keep your mind from asking "Are we there yet?" Try our fresh firming walking plan here. Or sign up for a charity walk to put new purpose into your strides (find one near you at On the treadmill? Mix things up with some hip-slimming side slides: Set incline to 0 to 2 percent, speed to 2.0 to 3.0 mph. Turn body to the right, holding front bar with left hand and side bar with right hand. Step left leg to left, then bring right leg to meet left. Continue for 2 minutes. Turn body to face forward, walk normally for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Another idea: Speed-walk for 2 minutes at an incline of 10, then lower it to 1 for 2 minutes, keeping your speed the same.

Gear shift: Walk this way! Order pedometers ($3.75) from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's for yourself and a few friends, then ask everyone to log their steps on the site. The goal? To reach 10,000 steps per day. The more active you are, the more bragging rights you'll have among your pals.

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Need New Ideas for Working Out at Home

Instant replay: If you miss your fair-weather routine, go ahead and re-create it indoors. It's possible -- promise! Turn your road bike into a stationary one by mounting it on a CycleOps Magnetic Bike Trainer ($179,, or keep running sans trail with the Stamina InTone Jogger trampoline ($80, And bring a touch of the outdoors inside to help you get your nature fix: Open up the shades and add some low-maintenance plants, like bamboo or ferns, to your exercise space, recommends trainer Ellen Barrett, creator of the Studio exercise DVDs. "They'll add some much-needed oxygen, not to mention a welcome touch of green, while you work out," she says.

Gear shift: Netflix it. For $9 to $17 per month, you can get an endless supply of fitness DVDs (find more than 1,000 exercise titles at One week do yoga, strength training, and kickboxing; the next, order Pilates, cardio sculpt, and belly dancing -- you may find your new sweat-session obsession!

See our favorite workout DVDs

Get the best equipment for your home gym

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Free Ways to Wake Up Your Workout

What better way to stay interested in your routine than saving some cash? Check out these fabulous, no-cost exercise opportunities.

  • Take a free weekly yoga class at your local Lululemon store (find one near you at
  • Race to Niketown to join Nike Club runs, held at least once a week (inside
  • Hit the gym for seven days straight, without being a member, at Bally Total Fitness (
  • Work out on vacation. Visit to find a gym near your locale that offers free sessions for first-timers.
  • Find bike rides in your area at
  • Get a session with a celeb trainer! Log on to for a free mini workout video, or make your own custom video at

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, April 2009.

Customize your own free video workout!

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