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For all of the positive benefits and uplifting imagery that surround it, the reality of fitness is that it’s not easy — and not always enjoyable.

You can’t spell “workout” without “work,” after all, and all of those muscles and miles certainly aren’t going to build themselves. That’s why, for many people, it can be hard to stay motivated on the journey to a fitness goal.

“Outside of competitive athletes, most of us exercise for other reasons — to improve health, feel better, have more energy,” says John Bobalik, an exercise physiologist and fitness instructor at Purdue University Northwest.

“So inserting fun into workouts really becomes important to overcome the boredom and drudgery of doing the same thing in the same way day after day. Once the initial novelty of exercise wears off, you have to change things up to keep yourself motivated.”

“Working out is something that can easily become monotonous, which is how people start to dread it or see it as a chore,” echoes Cheryl Nelson, owner of She Fit fitness studio in Dyer.

“The key is to find different ways to take your mind off the rigor and monotony by making it something social and fun.”

Indeed, adding a little bit of fun and variety to a fitness routine can increase one’s motivation to not only put in the work, but also to maybe look forward to doing it over and over again on the way to a goal. Here are a few ways to help keep the fun in fitness:

Change of scenery

No matter how many technological bells, whistles and distractions manufacturers come up with, every regular walker or runner comes to realize how mind-numbing and soul-killing an hour on the treadmill can be.

But Bobalik says it’s easy to find an occasional change-up for that great cardio workout by hitting the indoor track at your local fitness center, heading outside (weather permitting) or even taking a few laps around the mall.

It may also make sense for runners and walkers to go beyond their usual miles once in a while to work some other parts of the body. Bobalik believes this is not only a way to break routine but also to improve one’s health and well-being.

“The older you get, the more important it becomes to add different types of exercise to one’s routine — from strength training and stretching, to core exercises and functional training.”

Buddy-up

Bobalik and Nelson agree that working out with a friend or relative is a terrific way to stay committed — not only because you don’t want to let your workout partner down, but also because going through the experience together can help keep things supportive when the going gets tough.

“The social aspect of fitness is a great way to avoid monotony,” Nelson says. “Having a friend or a partner can turn working out into a fun social event.”

Keep it class-y

Taking the buddy-up theory to another level, a fitness class also adds a social element to a workout. Offering not only the all-in-this-together social aspect of a buddy workout, many new classes also feature plenty of music, movement and even choreography to ensure that fun is one of the most important fitness metrics to tally.

The less traditional offerings at She Fit include Booty Camp (designed, as one might infer, to work one’s derriere), Inner Vixen (which incorporates some lighthearted burlesque-style moves and music to work the lower body) and Nelson’s favorite, Soul Ride.

“We like to think of Soul Ride as a dance routine on a bike — it’s almost like an Olympic team when we get this thing moving,” she explains.

“So even people who don’t think they like spinning classes or don’t think they have rhythm end up having a really great time, because it’s so much fun they almost forget they’re really getting a great workout.”

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