Gym podcasts for the easily bored
May 6, 2016 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I like listening to podcasts while exercising, but I am easily bored by both exercise and podcasts.

For a while I've been dealing with this by going to classes instead of the gym (less boring!) but I just moved to a building with ITS OWN GYM and I want to make much use of it. I only listen to podcasts at the gym or while cleaning so I'm not very up on the options. Help me distract myself!

Here's what has worked for me in the past:
- Radiolab
- Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
- (Sometimes) Judge John Hodgman
- The Hitchhiker's Guide radio series

Here's what has not:
- Serial
- Most audiobooks

Night Vale can sort of go either way, but I'm also out of new episodes (I find it an indifferent gym podcast but very good for cleaning).

Here are the important factors, as far as I can tell:
1) Fast-paced (all the ones that don't work don't work because it takes too long to get to the point of anything)
2) Discrete sections, so I can subconsciously mark the passage of time
3) Either very funny or very fascinating
4) As un-depressing as possible

Chatty, discursive podcasts, even great ones like Another Round, tend not to work for me for this purpose, I think because of point 2. I like wildly entertaining (or at least joke-packed) stuff with structure.
posted by babelfish to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Song Exploder is consistently interesting. Every episode is a musician disassembling a song and explaining how it was put together. The only downside is that the episodes are pretty short.
posted by strangecargo at 1:40 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

The BBC's Friday night comedy podcast?

The name promises a bit more variety than it delivers --- it pretty much switches between The News Quiz and The Now Show, with each having a 6 week run. The News Quiz is like a dry, English (and therefore to my mind, funnier) version of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, the Now Show's more of a variety, with monologues and skits and songs. Both half an hour, with 3-5 minute segments. It's available on iTunes.
posted by Diablevert at 1:54 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I get bored easily through exercise and podcast too, and since Radiolab works well for me, maybe check out my other favorite - Reply All.
Usually both interesting and funny without the drawn out chit chat (ahem This American Life), with distinct sections.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 2:01 PM on May 6, 2016

You might like What's the Point from 538...I find it pretty fascinating anyway. :) Basically looks at various topics from a data/statistics perspective, and each episode has at least two segments. Another one that might work for you is Nerdette, which is interviews with various interesting media people from a feminist-y perspective. Each segment/interview is pretty short (they usually have a couple of guests in an episode, plus sometimes a segment with talking about a specific topic).
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:02 PM on May 6, 2016

You might like Sampler, also from Gimlet, the makers of Reply All. Perhaps I'm taking you a bit too literally, but the whole point of the show is to jump quickly from a clip from one podcast to another, interspersed with interview. I think the host is fantastic, and the quality of the podcast varies a bit from episode to episode. You might also use it as a tool to find new podcasts that work for you.
posted by femmegrrr at 2:17 PM on May 6, 2016

If you might like smart people dissecting a range of pop culture, I think NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour meets all of your bullets. I listened to most of the archives training for ultramarathons last summer, so I can vouch for its ability to combat boredom.
posted by brozek at 2:28 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like to listen to The Tony Kornheiser Show, which is nominally a sports show, but talks about sports, politics, and DC weather and traffic. It has a very loyal following, and each "hour" is 40 minutes long, with a typical radio "clock," so time is easy to discern.

Also via NPR, Ask Me Another is a game show with regular people and special guests. Always right at 51 minutes long.
posted by China Grover at 2:35 PM on May 6, 2016

Death Sex and Money
Answer Me This!
The Modern Mann
Adam Buxton Podcast
Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews (BBC)
Mystery Show

These are all my favorites for working out!
posted by JenThePro at 2:42 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

How Did This Get Made? and Gilmore Guys are my go-to gym podcasts. They're very fast paced and very funny, the opposite of depressing, and if your mind wanders or your headphones pop out for a minute it doesn't really matter.
posted by telegraph at 2:56 PM on May 6, 2016

I really like Nerdist - often hilarious. I listen to it hiking and quite often look like a fool as I randomly bust out laughing. They may not hit the 'time passage" requirement but they are usually ~ 1 hour long if that length of time is ever the time frame you are looking for.

I also like Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class.

We're Alive, if you like zombie stories is great. Episodes about ~20 each so that breaks time down into good chunks.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 3:13 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some of the most absorbing "runs" of podcasts I've heard:

The Charles Manson's Hollywood series of You Must Remember This. I think there are like a dozen episodes in the series. Creepy, but so well told.

And the (ongoing!) Ross and Carrie Audit Scientology episodes of Oh No Ross and Carrie. They just released episode six this past week.

I do a lot of half-listening to podcasts, but I never missed a word of those episodes.
posted by moons in june at 8:12 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

How To Do Everything

The BBC has a ton of other radio dramas that you might like, sort of audio sitcoms. Try Cabin Pressure.
posted by anaelith at 4:44 AM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

2 Dope Queens
Beef and Dairy Network
posted by grateful at 7:30 AM on May 7, 2016

I think Dave Holmes's International Waters would be a good fit. Each episode features 2 US comedians and 2 UK comedians in sort of a comedy/news quiz format. It tends to be more towards the "comedy" end of the comedy/news spectrum than, say, WWDTM.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2016

Oh me too! I have not found a satisfactory answer to this specific question. But if you have a tablet or smartphone, watch youtube videos on your phone! I like watching music videos, talk show clips and science videos. Working out is much more fun with youtube!
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 6:47 AM on May 9, 2016

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