5 Tips for Making Cardio Machines More Fun

Cardio machines; love ’em or hate ’em?

Personally, I’m not a big fan.

My  favourite way to do cardio is in a group fitness class. Step, hi-lo, kick box, spinning and tabata; just a few of the ways I love to get my heart pumping and my sweat on.

cardio machines

But there’s not always a class running when it’s my turn to workout. And since I live in Vancouver, the weather is often too cold and wet for outdoor exercise during the winter.

On those days, jumping on a cardio machine is the only option (other than ditching my workout completely). Want to know how I make it more fun?

5 Tips for Making Cardio Machines More Fun

  • choose a machine you don’t hate; everybody has a preference for one type of cardio machine over another. Even if you don’t like any of them, there will be one that you dislike just a little bit less than all the rest. Time really does fly by (infinitesimally) faster when you choose the lesser of all evils. My cardio machine of choice? The Cybex Arc Trainer!
  • always, always, always have good music to listen to; the faster the beat, the more uplifting the lyrics, the longer you’ll be willing to put up with the machine. But watch where you set your iPod down; the cords have a nasty habit of getting caught up in the handles of ellipticals…
  • listen to a motivational podcast; not only will listening to a good speaker distract you from focusing on how much time has elapsed in your workout (or how many calories you’ve burned; not that we believe those numbers anyways…), a cheerful, motivating talk can create positive associations between exercise and emotions. Lately, I’ve been loving Ted talks!
  • pick the interval program over the steady state option; breaking up a tedious task into shorter intervals with variation in tempo or resistance will not only make your workout seem shorter, it’ll also burn more calories!
  • cover up the display; similar to the old saying ‘a watched pot never boils’, being able to see the time elapsed (or calories burned) always makes my workout drag.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video below!

Are you a cardio machine lover or hater?

What’s your ‘lesser of all evils’ choice?

Any tricks for making it more fun? 



  1. I guess if I HAD to pick a word Id say lover?
    I tweet, instagram, read mags, text friends ANYTHING TO MAKE THE TIME GO BY…
    Miz recently posted…My PV BODY storyMy Profile

    • I am just not coordinate to multi task like that! Last time I tried to text on the ARC trainer, I dropped my iphone on the floor. Didn’t break, but won’t risk that again! (no iphone = no brain)

  2. That video is too funny! I love the Arc, too – but I get bored with that too. My best tip is to mix up your machines – how ’bout 15-20 minutes on three different machines? 45-60 minutes of cardio done and your body’s working in different ways and your brain doesn’t turn to mush. That said, I’d rather do weights and bodyweight circuits, or group fitness classes – then my brain really has to work and the time flies by!
    Sarah @ Semi-Sweet recently posted…A Loss (and Leftover Turkey Soup with Lemon, Barley & Kale)My Profile

    • Great idea Sarah! I didn’t think of it because I rarely go longer than 30 minutes… (unless I’m in class, of course!)

  3. NOT a fan at all. When we lived in the interior BC we had cold snowy winters and after many years of running outdoors, I caved and got a really good treadmill (which many many years later is in my friend’s Kelowna home cause there it is too hot to run outside in the Summer!) and I pretty much hated every mile on it. I watched tv, movies, anything! to take my mind off the boredom. And I had a fan set up so I wouldn’t drown in my own sweat.

    I have also tried ellipticals and stair steppers and exericice bikes. Yuk!

    Good idea you have here, Tamara.
    Elle recently posted…Hope Endures Virtual 5 KMy Profile

  4. I love cardio machines. In fact, I have been known to head to the gym to watch Dancing With the Stars from cardio equipment. I do intervals during the commercials. One week I missed that the show was at a different time so I ended up doing 3 hours on the elliptical, treadmill, and bike — 2 hours of the show, plus the one hour I came early. Probably not the best use of my cardio time….. Go Tamara!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Interval Planks Will Activate Your AbsMy Profile

    • Ha! 3 hours of cardio? You could have run a half marathon (but not watched DWTS) in that time! Amazing endurance my friend!

  5. Machines are definitely not my cardio preference, but sometimes they’re the only thing available in a hotel when it’s too early to do my jumping and leaping in the room with my family who’s still sleeping. Like you, I’ll cover the display so I don’t focus on how much time has passed, and I never do it without my music.

    That being said, I use my treadmill at home all the time–but more for evening walks while reading or slow walks while writing (you know I love my treadmill shelf 🙂 ).
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…How Well Do You Know Me?My Profile

    • My kids are always up earlier than I am when we’re on holiday, so no worries about me waking anybody up!
      But I do know, sometimes you have to get on a cardio machine, even when it’s not our first choice…

  6. Hate may be too strong a word, but I really dislike doing cardio on a machine. I’m fortunate that where I live, exercise outdoors is almost always possible (even in the summer, you just need to be an early riser).

    On those rare occasions though, I follow most of the tips above. I will also switch up machines. If I have a 30 minute workout to do, I may do 10 on the elliptical, 10 on the tread, and 10 on a bike.

    I will also create my own interval program on the elliptical. Time goes much faster when you are doing intervals (especially the rest periods).

    We have a new eSpinner at the gym where I work. I don’t usually work out there, but it is a semi-fun option when forced to move indoors.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted…Where I’ve Been: Visits with the New GrandsonMy Profile

    • You and Sarah are so smart! Why didn’t I think of switching up machines? I love to workout out of doors too, but alas, I really don’t love the rain…

  7. Cover up the display…lol…I’ve done that sooooo many times!
    Kierston recently posted…The Little Things Made BIG!My Profile

    • Who needs to look at those numbers? I’d rather look at the cute guy on the machine next to me 😉

  8. I used to love cardio machines. Not so much anymore. 10 minutes feels painfully slow! Music is a must and anything else to distract me – TV, reading, tweets, etc. I’ve never tried the Arc Trainer. It’s good?
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Winter Bucket ListMy Profile

  9. annabanana says:

    I’m like the others, I switch up my workout. I can’t stand the ellipitcal so I go on the spin bike for 20 and then do 15 minutes on the treadmill. When I’m on the treadmill I mostly walk with 1 session of 5 minutes running(can’t run anymore for long have arthritis in my feet) then also bump up the incline to the highest it goes and walk fast 4.5 miles per hour and boy do I work up a sweat. I read on the spin bike to make it less boring and of course day dream!!

  10. I am not a fan of cardio machines. Which works out since I’m not a member of a gym and I don’t have any machines at home 🙂 If I were going to buy a cardio machine it would be a treadmill. Not because I love to run on a treadmill, but more out of necessity when weather or whatever prevents me from running outside. Intervals are probably my favorite for treadmill running.
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted…Month In Review || NovemberMy Profile


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