Gym hacks that make working out better

Like eating your vegetables and not ignoring your yearly check up, working out is one of those necessary evils that we have to deal with if we want to stay healthy — even though it can seriously suck sometimes. But hard work is the only way to reach your fitness goals, and there's no shame in employing a few handy gym hacks to help you get there. The gym might be your least favorite place now, but it doesn't have to stay that way.

Buy workout clothes you love

You don't have to spend a lot. Shop outlets and sales to find a new workout wardrobe. Not only will you look cute, but you'll feel even more motivated, too. And if you have the cash on hand, treat yourself to those sweet Nikes you saw online. It might involve a little bit of investment, but it'll be so worth it when you look forward to going to the gym because you get to wear your new shorts and tank tops.

Find something to do only during your workouts

Whether it's a podcast, a show on Netflix you've recently discovered, or an audiobook, choose something that you're only allowed to enjoy while you're working out. Want to read the next chapter? Sorry, only if you're on the treadmill. Not only will it distract you while you're getting the dreaded cardio out of the way, but it will also give you something to look forward to when you're at the gym. Don't know where to start? Try NPR's mega famous podcast Serial, and go from there.

Race against yourself

If you're driven by competition, don't worry about going faster than the woman on the elliptical next to you — worry about outdoing yourself. Every time you go to the gym, push yourself to go a little farther than the last time. Do one more rep, or run one more mile. It'll give you something to work toward — and something you can be proud of. Associating those positive feelings with that stinky place full of weight machines is key when it comes to hating the gym just a little less.

Use apps to your advantage

There are so many fitness apps out there that will provide you with new moves and ways to track your workouts and goals, as well as demystify the idea of working out for beginners. Make sure you use those to your advantage, especially if tracking what you're doing in the gym is important to you. And if you want to get into running but seriously hate it, try Zombies! Run. It turns your run into a game where you're trying to get away from zombies, and that's enough motivation to go faster in itself.

Switch things up

If you do the same workout every day, you're going to get bored. And when you get bored, it'll make working out even less fun. To keep things interesting — and to keep your body guessing — avoid ending up in a rut. If you do your cardio on the treadmill one day, try the elliptical or the bike the next. If working out is usually a solo event for you, bring a friend once in a while or join spin class instead. Tired of burpees? Take a week off and add in a different body weight workout for awhile. You'll find that it gets just a little easier when you're always trying new things.

Get into a routine

Even though we just said to make sure you switch things up, the one thing you shouldn't change is the time of day you go to the gym. If you get into a routine, like waking up and hitting the gym before you do anything else, or stopping on your way home from work, it'll feel weird when you skip a day. This way, you'll be held accountable. Think of it as scheduling a meeting with yourself — one you can never, ever cancel.

Set goals and reward yourself

Always set goals for yourself, as small as they may be. Starting from scratch? Promise yourself you'll make it to the gym just three times next week. Training for a 5K? Set a time limit, and then once you've reached that goal, set another. Just make sure you're rewarding yourself when you hit those goals, too. If you're trying to lose weight, grabbing ice cream as your treat for making it to the gym that day may not be the best idea, but a pedicure totally is — or maybe a new sports bra at Lululemon. It's all up to you!

If you're the kind of person who is utterly confused when others talk about their "runner's high" and actively look forward to getting off the couch, then these tips are definitely for you.