7 Low-Cost Ways to Make Your At-Home Workout Less Boring, According to Personal and Group Fitness Trainers

published Jan 14, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Loving exercise and getting bored with it aren’t mutually exclusive. It doesn’t matter what fancy equipment you’ve bought, what subscription service you use, or how much you’ve made exercise a part of your weekly routine throughout your life. Everyone gets bored with home workouts — your favorite fitness trainers included.

“At-home workouts are TOUGH,” says Casey Sines, a personal trainer and coach on Aaptiv. “It’s hard to stay motivated, you don’t have the energy of a group behind you, and it can seem like everything gets in the way of you getting a workout in.”

Although I’ve been a fitness coach for over a decade, it wasn’t until my workouts moved from the spin studio to my studio apartment that I realized how much my motivation depended on being around other humans. Without end goals or events like races, in-studio events, or social time post-class to look forward to, I quickly realized that I needed a major expectation reset. Here are seven tricks and tips that trainers and fitness pros use to keep their home workouts feeling fresh and exciting:

Create healthy distractions.

Use your time working out to catch up on your favorite podcast, listen to an audiobook… or, if you’re like Gerren Liles, founding Mirror trainer and creator of VizFit apparel, even watch TV.

“I have a dedicated room for the gym, but if I’m struggling to focus on a particular workout, I’ll wheel my rower or bike into the living room and use them while watching Netflix,” he tells Apartment Therapy. Consider this full permission to binge watch “Bridgerton” while you hold your plank — it’s trainer-approved.

Make micro-changes to your favorite workout programs.

Sometimes, changing how you do the workout you’re doing is the key. Khaleah London, a group fitness instructor for Equinox and Variis, is a fan of repeating favorite workout routines as a way to challenge herself to step it up.

“I’ll increase my weights for a greater challenge, or I’ll maintain the original load and hold myself accountable to speed and/or longer balances,” she tells Apartment Therapy. “Just this slight adjustment produces a totally different physical and mental fitness experience, and supplies either new knowledge of improvements or helps me create new goals to achieve. What allows the effectiveness of this process is my familiarity with the workout, so I can work deeper and specifically on my intended focus.”

Create different playlists for different workouts, moods, and days of the week.

You have a workout playlist… but do you have a workout playlist library? Make like the pros and create a new playlist based on what you need for the day. “I’m usually self-motivated when it comes to my workouts, however, I have found myself also feeling uninspired to push myself,” says Natalie Yco, fitness expert and owner of YCO Active activewear. “One remedy is creating a dope-ass playlist with all of the head banging songs that will help me push through. Once I turn up the volume, my energy increases twofold.” 

Another strategy? Create a week’s worth of playlists. Paul Katami, a Los Angeles-based fitness expert says he has different playlists that he uses on different days of the week in order to keep him motivated. Knowing you have your “Tuesday Tunes” to look forward to, for example, could be the thing that gets you going on a gloomy morning when you’re tempted to lay in bed and scroll on Instagram.

Try a class you normally wouldn’t have the bravery to try in front of other people.

Gone are the days of the front-row scaries, when it felt like all eyes were on you. “This would be a good opportunity to try a new workout in the privacy of your own home that you wouldn’t normally try in public,” says Liles. Your home is an intimidation-free space — and while there’s never been shame in taking Child’s Pose for half a yoga class, now you can go at the pace you need without that voice in the back of your head.

Pick at least one “adventure workout” a week.

“I’m becoming more adventurous with my workouts and making a plan,” says Amanda Katz, a New York City-based trainer. “As humans, we get comfortable in our routines and fear the unknown. Trust me, it’s worth exploring new ways to move.” She recommends one “adventure workout” a week, which can be anything you want it to be. If you run outside, this could mean (literally) choosing the proverbial “road less traveled” and venturing down a new-to-you route. If you’re indoors, the adventuresome possibilities are endless thanks to a slew of streaming services that give you access to hundreds of types of workouts.

Collect multi-functional pieces of equipment.

Instead of buying one or two expensive single-purpose machines, keep an eye out for multi-functional pieces of equipment that you can use from one workout to the next. Katami recommends tubing, bands, and kettlebells to encourage diversity in your workouts. As for specialty pieces, be sure to research ways to incorporate them into your strength workouts, whether it’s a bootcamp-style circuit or even using your rowing machine’s seat as a glider for pikes and other ab moves. 

Let go of the idea that you “need” to move for a set amount of time.

Instead of trying to find time to complete a “full” workout, focus on making the most of the time you already have.“With my husband and two kids at home with me along with teaching my virtual classes, there isn’t always an ideal amount of time to get my workout in, so if I need to I’ll get it in small amounts of time,” Gail Barranda Rivas, a fitness professional and mom of two, says. “A half hour in the morning, quick 15 minutes after I teach a class…anything that I can get.”