Cardiovascular exercise is something that I really enjoy, especially running outdoors. I love the feeling of the fresh air and I especially appreciate the chance it gives me to relax, be free and enjoy my workout.
I have done two half-marathons and countless 5k and 10k races for various charities. I really love to watch people, observe my surroundings and rock out to my favorite playlist when going on runs.
Even though I absolutely love running outdoors, I cannot stand running on a treadmill for extended periods of time. I get so bored and honestly, I cannot go more than 10 minutes at a time without feeling like my workout is a chore.
I like to feel like I am getting somewhere when I run, and the treadmill does not give me that feeling.
Since the weather has been cooler and a bit rainy, I have been going to the gym a lot more to workout. To avoid getting bored and in a holiday rut, I have been putting effort into making my cardio routine as creative, fun and challenging as possible. That way I will not get burned out at the gym or stuck doing the same thing over and over.
Yes, sometimes that happens to me, too. You get used to the same machines, you stick to one type of cardio and the world goes round and round. It all depends on what machines and areas of the gym are available, but I usually have a pretty good plan of what machines I'm going to use and the duration.
The other day I received a text message from a good friend of mine, who is also really into fitness and healthy, asking me for a really intense cardio routine to do at the gym for her and her boyfriend.
The one I gave her is one of my favorites, because it only requires me to be on the treadmill for 10-minute intervals.
Any time I do intervals on a treadmill, I always start out with a 5-minute walking warm up.
Then I do a three-minute jog and two-minute walk at a high incline -- repeating it twice.
I get off treadmill and do 20 jumping jacks, 20 jump squats, 20 burpees.
You can repeat this whole entire cycle three to five times depending on your fitness level and how you feel. The cool thing about this cardio routine is that it can be used for a range of fitness levels.
I gave her the harder version because I knew that she could handle it, but it can easily be modified. You can substitute jump squats for regular squats and burpees for push-ups. You can even do the same exercises with lesser repetitions and then progress up to the full 20.
Another piece of exercise equipment I have a love-hate relationship with is the rowing machine.
It does not look as if it can do much damage, but trust me, it will really make you sweat. The rowing machine engages your entire body from the legs, to the core and upper body. It also has various levels of resistance on the row that you can adjust accordingly.
Usually I do my rowing at level 8. I like to mix up my rowing with a stationary bike. My friend, who I told you about in my six-week challenge article two weeks ago, and I did a great bike and rowing cardio workout last week.
While one of us was rowing for 1,000 meters, the other was riding on the stationary bike until the row was complete. We switched back and forth three times, and our rowing times ranged from four to six minutes each. This was really fun for us to do together, and to push ourselves to the next level with motivation from each other.
So don't be afraid of the different machines at the gym. If you don't know how they work, then ask someone who works there to help you. Don't just stick to the machines that you are comfortable with and do day after day.
You want something that is fun, challenging and will make you stick to the program. During these winter months, even though it's freezing, we must keep calm and keep fit.
Lunden Souza, a Merced native, is a personal trainer, health and wellness coach and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.