As human beings, we are definitely creatures of habit. We find a routine we are comfortable with, one that fits into our daily lives, and we happily stick to it. Oftentimes to the point where we don’t even realize we have fallen into a rut, and have become uninspired and unmotivated. Many people are afraid to try new things, clinging to their mantras of “I hate exercise” or “I hate running.” A few years ago, this was me, simply going through the motions, counting the minutes until my workout was done.

Having kids and a limited budget forced me out of the gym many years ago, and into my living room for exercise. I absolutely fell in love with my Jillian Michaels DVD’s, all 17 of them. And if you are just starting out and looking for an effective and inexpensive way to squeeze some exercise into your life, I highly recommend them. But at some point, 5-6 years in, no matter how I varied the workouts or increased my intensity, I was getting the same results (i.e. nothing). And my workouts were no longer exciting me.

It was at that point I became open to trying something different. I had always been one of those people who said, “I don’t run, I hate running.” But when my girls joined Girls on the Run several years ago, and began begging me to run with them, I decided to give it a shot. And guess what? I actually don’t hate running. In fact, you might say I enjoy it. Plus, as a bonus, that simple act of doing something new, gave my body the boost it was searching for.

A couple years later, I decided to try cycling as well. Even though I had developed an aversion to it following college. Now I absolutely love cycling! Then, this past summer, as a requirement for my goal of competing in a triathlon, I took on swimming. And to this day, I am so proud of the strides I made in the pool. I can’t wait for the weather to turn warm so I can get back in there.

Each one of these slow, gradual steps out of my workout rut taught me something. It is so important to be open to trying new things. With the new year officially underway, I am more inspired than ever to get out of my comfort zone. And I would like to challenge you to do the same. Whether you’ve had the same exercise routine for the last five years, or you’re just starting out, it should be your goal this year to try something new. Or simply rediscover something you thought no longer interested you.

It doesn’t have to be scary or expensive. In fact, if you are just trying new things until you stumble across your new love, I would urge you not to spend a lot of money. Search your local area for Groupons, from yoga classes and boot camps to dance lessons, there is something for everyone. And it’s a fraction of the cost. Many gyms also offer free one-week, two-week, and even month long trial memberships. So, don’t be afraid to check them out. Go to all the classes they offer until you find something you love.

I had been out of the “gym life” for more than a decade, but when my husband came home last month with a free 30-day trial to a local boot camp, I was intrigued. I decided to give it a shot, even though I was a little anxious. I absolutely loved it! I even signed up for an additional six weeks. For the first time in a long time, my muscles were sore. And they are consistently sore every day I work out, letting me know that I am getting stronger. Just being in a group setting has forced me to push myself farther than I thought possible.

My next step after boot camp? Yoga classes. I had noticed that after an entire summer of running, swimming, and biking, I lost a lot of my flexibility. So, I went to Groupon and purchased a couple months of yoga classes for not a lot of money. I am looking forward to redeeming them in a few weeks.

If you’re intimidated by the idea of going to a class, start small and at home. Try a new DVD or exercise app, go for walk or hike a local trail, or maybe just turn up the music and dance in your living room. Take baby steps out of your comfort zone, and as you reap the benefits, I guarantee you will be inspired to go farther and try more new things.

Better yet, recruit a friend (or your husband) to do it with you. You can be brave together and support each other on your fitness journeys. Everything is better when you have a trusted partner to help push you and keep you accountable. When exercise is inspiring, exciting, and most of all, fun, only then does it become addictive.

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