5 Ways to Make the Gym More Bearable

1Do you dread the gym? If you've got a New Year's fitness resolution to stick to, chances are you're going to need to suck up your gym-phobia and get on with pumping iron and racking up miles. But for those of us who aren't into posturing beefcakes in tiny vests, just-used equipment dripping with someone else's sweat and tinny music videos courtesy of MTV, it's not always easy to ignore the basic badness of spending three hours a week in your local fitness farm...

To help you get on with getting on, we've compiled a few helpful tips which will make the gym infinitely more bearable and less like a trip to the seventh circle of hell. Let's do this thing!

1. Playlists are everything

The right playlist is an absolute godsend for gym-haters. Without a decent pair of headphones and something you actually want to listen to, the average gym goer is prey to the same seven trashy pop songs from the top of the charts, interspersed with aggressive adverts for sports drinks and – worst of all – the idiotic chundering of the meat-head in the vest by the free weights. Block it out and have a moment for yourself by building your ultimate workout playlist. Change it up every week, download other people's or get hooked on a great podcast (the latest series of Serial is out now) to make the gym more enjoyable.

2. Measure your progress

If you have to be somewhere terrible, at least be there for a reason. Setting goals and measuring your progress is one of the best ways to motivate yourself and make all the gym-related terribleness seem worth it. Fitness apps are an excellent way to log your goals, measure how well you're doing and push yourself even further.

3. Towels & hand sanitiser

Hate how much of other people's sweat you have to deal with at the gym? We're with you. Before you get back into the swing of it, invest in a set of fresh towels (one for each gym session you plan to do each week) that way you always have a fresh towel to protect you from the horror of other humans' perspiration, then do a wash at the end of the week. A squirt of hand sanitiser between each piece of equipment will also help reduce the “yuck” factor.

4. Buddy up

A bit of gym-based company isn't just a good motivator, it's also great for making the time go faster and more pleasantly. Exercise doesn't have to be grim. Take a mate with you and make your workout much more of a laugh all round.

5. Minimise your gym time

If you really can't hack a serious batch of weekly gym time, it's time to find an alternative. From park-based “fitness camps” and fitness classes held in studios away from the churn of equipment, to investing in equipment for your home and finding a gym-free alternative like running or cycling, give your outdoor and non-gym workouts a boost to make an hour a week in the gym feel much less dreadful.

How do you make the gym more bearable? Share your workout tips with other readers on the Base London Facebook group.