How to beat workout boredom? Bring your brain into the game

woman working out hard Monotony can kill a marriage, including yours with the gym.

Gary Mahabir, a NSCA certified-personal trainer and a former competitive muay thai boxer, is a big believer in needing to seduce the mind in order to tone your muscles. His new fitness class called Sweat at Clay (a Well+Good nominee for NYC’s most gorgeous gym) proves the theory, and lives up to its name, with 14 tough-love circuit station challenges. Burpees, ketelbell squats, and out-of-left field exercises—like figuring out how to keep 20-foot-long stevedore ropes in constant motion—will focus even the most ADD athlete.

Sure, getting out of your comfort zone and training super hard in short bursts gives you results more quickly. But that’s only half the point for Mahabir, who says the regime is also good for the mind. “When not occupied with learning something new or mastering a challenge, people get bored.” And boredom, as we all know, is workout kryptonite. “Even if you like exercise, most people find it tough to be on the treadmill for an hour,” says Mahabir. “The mind starts wanting variation.”

Gary Mahabir NYC personal trainer at Clay
Gary Mahabir offers inspiration and Jedi mind tricks for staying motivated, at Clay

Mahabir recommends these three shock-treatment-style tips for mixing up your workout and kicking your workout malaise.

1. Spring into action. (Repeat.) Give yourself a workout with short and varied demands, like jumping rope for a minute and then doing triceps dips on a bench. “When you’re totally in the moment, even if it’s just for 30 seconds, you’re not considering what comes next,” says Mahabir. “You can get a lot accomplished by working intensely.” Plus you barely have time to whine or recover before you move on to the next exercise.

2. Embrace instability
Mahabir likes challenges such as crouched football runs on an instability board to get your brain in the game. “Predictability is good in life, but it can be bad in the gym,” he says. Balance challenges add a layer of complexity to your workout because your body needs a serious nudge from your noggin.

3. Change your plane of motion
Instead of mindlessly lifting a weighted exercise ball straight up and out from your chest, shake things up and ax-chop it in a clockwise direction starting from your ankle. If you’re a runner, try a new route or terrain (like Prospect Park’s dirt path instead of the road), so you have to watch your footwork. The goal is to get off autopilot to get results.

Clay, 25 W. 14th St., btwn. Fifth and Sixth Aves., 212-206-9200,
Day pass: $35

Do you have a trick for keeping motivated and beating workout boredom? Tell us, here!

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