5 Surprising Ways to Rev Up Your Workout

Amy Kuras

female jogger

While summer's warm temperatures, sunshine, and lighter schedules should mean prime time for outdoor workouts, these sultry days propel many of us toward the hammock with a glass of lemonade instead of toward the pavement or the gym.

Certainly, on these hot days, working up even more of a sweat isn't an attractive proposition. But exercise is necessary no matter how languid you might feel.

Try these five out-of-the box ideas to help motivate your workouts this summer.

1. Take a self-portrait in a bikini 

My mother, for reasons passing understanding, has displayed in her kitchen a photo of all of us in the water at the beach last year. Yes, folks, I let my guard down and allowed myself to be photographed in my swimsuit, and now she won't take it down no matter how I beg. In the ensuing year, when I've felt my desire to work out flag a little, I think of that photo and off to the gym I go. And even if you have a bikini body after having your kids, you'll be even happier with how you look if you tone up a little before that beach trip. 

2. Try a coveted class

If you have to be on a bike 15 minutes before spin class even starts, or if the very best yoga instructor's mats are full mere minutes after registration opens, summer can offer you an opportunity to get into those coveted slots as people go on vacation or just slack off a little. The best part? If you show up faithfully, those prime teachers are often pretty willing to let you into their more crowded fall or winter sessions.

3. Buy sexy new workout clothes 

With the change of seasons come the latest styles and colors in great-looking workout wear -- and if you exercise indoors in the winter you'll get plenty of use out of those high-tech cooling fabrics all year long. Check out fellow Stirrer Jennie's review of Old Navy's workout line for inspiration. I am wearing my Old Navy exercise capris as I type (yes, because I worked out) and can second her high opinion of their stuff. Handily, for those of us who are fit but not thin, their workout gear goes up to XXXL. Of course, there's a range of cute stuff from Target and Old Navy all the way up to lululemon, depending on your budget and sense of style. Showing off that cute outfit is a great reason to get off the couch.

4. Boost your energy

For those of us in four-season climates, summertime is when the bikes, balls, and bats come out of their winter hiding places, and art fairs, festivals, and neighborhood pool parties beckon. Regular workouts give you the stamina and confidence to enjoy these things.

Three summers ago when I was hardly exercising at all, I hated even taking my kids to the park because I was just so out of shape and uncomfortable. Now, I'm nary a pound lighter but am in such better shape that I'll happily stroll the zoo for hours on end and hike all over the park.

5. Abandon your children

At the gym's child care center. If yours happens to offer it, of course; otherwise, I take that tip back. Entertaining your darling children for 13 straight weeks can be daunting, but I find the gym's babysitters a lifesaver. Our local YMCA offers free, quality child care as a benefit of membership, and other gyms charge a nominal fee. Confession time: I was struggling last year to find fun things for my almost-kindergartner and not-quite-toddler to do last summer when the light bulb went on in my head: The nice people at the Y will look after my kids for free while I work out and take a shower. It's been a win-win; the kids get playtime with other kids and some exercise, I get a good workout and some me time. And I've built some nice muscle to boot.

Image via mikebaird/Flickr

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