Changing Your Fitness Routine Can Help Reinvigorate Faded Passions

Chris Lavoie lifts weights in a fitness class at 416 Health Club on February 2, while his partner Elise Sanderson does squats.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Some say that familiarity breeds contempt. I’m not sure if this is entirely true, but in the gym, repetition is the rule of law, and the adage is even more important.

Being able to tolerate some monotony is a requirement for all levels of fitness training. A project that focuses solely on diversity will never yield results. After all, you can only get good at technique through constant practice. However, some people take this idea to the extreme, repeating the exact same workout for weeks (months? years?) in a row. Movements, weights used, order of execution – their routine never changes. Not surprisingly, neither are their bodies.

Change can be a powerful tool. Changing our daily lives, even in subtle ways, often leads to dramatic results. A new environment, a different approach, a new set of tools – it doesn’t take much to turn something stale into something inspiring. If your progress is stalling and your enthusiasm for exercising is waning, it may be time for a change. Here are some easy-to-apply options to help revive faded enthusiasm.

find a new home

Regular readers of this column will know by now that I don’t like big corporate gyms. The fitness industry complex didn’t inspire, despite their desperate marketing campaigns featuring young, chiseled models doing fitness-like things. Some big names get things right, but they’re the exception to the rule.

If your preferred gym is part of a luxury franchise or global conglomerate, consider signing up for a trial membership at a smaller, independent facility.

The equipment in these places is almost always top-notch.Then there’s the energy, the vibe, the culture; I don’t know what that is, but whenever I step on a training ground real At the gym I immediately got excited and started lifting weights.

I can’t say the same about the dull hum from the endless treadmill aisles in the standard Big Chain Gym. And don’t make me start playing canned music from these places. Raise your hand if the top 40 pop songs ignite a fire under your ass. That’s exactly what I thought.

Find new tribes

Tribalism is prevalent in the fitness world. Bodybuilders occupy one field, weightlifters occupy another. CrossFit takes place within a “box”, the martial arts within the dojo. How to tell if a person is running a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you (as do triathletes, yogis, and aerobics followers).

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Tribes provide an element of belonging and support, which can lead to real motivation. But if all your workouts are under the banner of one specific protocol, you may be missing out on a world of great benefits.

Myopia majors are best reserved for competitive athletes. The rest of us are better off with a generalist mindset. Weightlifters should learn to run. Runners should learn to lift weights. And CrossFitters? Well, try to think outside the box every now and then.

Find new tools

Altitude sickness occurs when our body stops adapting to the training stimuli we put into it. There’s no reason for your body to get stronger unless you keep upping the ante for new challenges. Thankfully, the solution is simple: use a different toolset.

Although they all look the same, bodyweight squats are not the same as kettlebell goblet squats, nor are they different from barbell back squats or dumbbell front squats. Of course, each involves crouching, but the loading modes are different enough to create novel effects. Even the slightest adjustment is enough to spark growth.

It should be noted that there is a symbiotic relationship between each of the above pathways. Find a new home, and you’ll find a new tribe that’s likely to rely on a different set of tools that you’re not used to. Once you start spending time with unique training tools, chances are you’ll become immersed in the subcultures that produced them. In short, learn to embrace the unknown with open arms and your training will never suffer.

Paul Landini is a personal trainer and health educator based in Kitchener, Ontario.

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