Have you ever made either of these statements?
“I don’t have time to workout,” or “I’m just too busy to go to the gym.”
As a personal trainer, I have heard declarations like these a bazillion times. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time… well you know, I would be like a bazillionaire.
The truth is we all have the same amount of time and we make decisions every day how we will use it.
As entrepreneurs, we have the ability to organize our priorities the way we want to. Maintaining or achieving health should be at the top of the list for each of us. If you are honest with yourself, it even makes good business sense to protect your health.
With that in mind, here are 5 scheduling hacks to help you squeeze fitness into your busy days.
Make it Happen in the Wee Hours of the Morning
I have no doubt that you have heard this one before. And if you are not a morning person you probably just rolled your eyes. But let me ask you this: how many books have you seen with titles like, “Save all of Your Important Tasks for Late in the Day” or “Getting it all Done After 9 PM”?
Chances are you haven’t.
The truth is the quiet hours of the morning have the best potential for productivity for these reasons.
- The odds of interruption are a lot less likely.
- You have the most amount of energy – even if it comes only after your first cup of coffee.
- Will-power for the day is at its highest.
I have known many people who were initially convinced they were “no good” at getting anything accomplished in the morning, only to find that a little determination and sticking to a set wake-up time, could change that.
Try it: As an entrepreneur, you are used to making things happen. This should be no different. You owe it to your future self to at least try to develop the habit of an early morning exercise routine. As with everything you do, give it your best shot for at least a month. You might find that the rewards far outweigh the disruptive sound of the alarm clock.
The thought of carving out an hour or even 30 minutes 3-4 times a week can seem like an impossibility for many of us. Juggling the work and family balance is daunting enough. However, your improved health really does produce payoffs for both your work and family.
When working with clients, I always tell them to start with what they can do. 2 or 3 quick intense bursts of exercise, lasting 10 minutes, can be as effective as one solid block of workout time. Research has shown this to be true.
The key here is to keep the burst intense. Make it count. What does intense look like? It is not going to be the same for everyone, but you probably are not carrying on a conversation or reading a magazine when you are doing it. Think of it as working hard enough that you can’t envision keeping it up for a long time.
Try it: Set a timer for 10 minutes. Go hard for one minute then rest for 30 seconds, then repeat until your 10 minutes is done. This could be a quick sprint, jumping jacks, climbing a hill on the bike, etc. As you improve you can either make the intense portion longer or the rest portion shorter. Aim to get two or three of these bursts in any time throughout the day.
Something is Better Than Nothing
As a personal trainer, I came across mindsets that really worked against getting fit. The “all or nothing” mindset was one. Some clients believed that if they couldn’t fit in their normal workout, then nothing else would work.
A better way to look at this is: something is better than nothing. If you have a particularly crazy week that prevents you from getting in your typical workouts, then simply improvise.
Try it: A 20-minute walk after dinner, 15 minutes of yoga before bed, or body weight exercises on your lunch break, all would be a much better alternative than just skipping it.
Make the Best of Last Minute Cancellations or Wait Time
We have all experienced it – having to wait for someone when we have a zillion things we could be getting accomplished – it is frustrating, right? Why not maximize that time instead of allowing your blood pressure to rise?
Now I get it if you don’t want to sweat every time you have a spare moment. Being stinky doesn’t exactly scream professional. However, not too many of us will break a sweat while stretching.
Keeping your flexibility is a key piece to your fitness. Although stretching exercises should not replace more intense cardio and strength exercises, it is a perfect fitness activity to do while waiting.
Try it: This might require some creativity, especially if you’re having to wait in a doctor’s office or busy bank. However, where there is a will there is a way. Focus on stretching each muscle group starting at the top with neck, back, and shoulders. Work your way down through every area. Check out this site for some safe, basic exercises for the whole body.
My schedule varies every day. Some days seem full and crazy whereas other days are a little more chill. One way I like to schedule my fitness into an unpredictable week is to plan on doing a ladder.
This is how it works. On the day that I have more time, I plan to get in one full hour of either a cardio workout (like running or biking) or a full hour of strength training. In either case, it is a solid hour at a moderate pace.
The second day of that week will be a 45-minute workout that combines a bit of both cardio and strength and will be a slightly harder effort than the hour-workout was.
I finish the week off with a 30 minute, fairly intense workout that combines strength training with cardio bursts.
This approach allows me to get cardio and strength training in. Varying up the duration and intensity is crucial for fitness to improve. It also seems a bit more motivating to get through because it changes each time.
Try it: At the beginning of your week, grab the calendar and purposefully fit in these 3 time slots: 1 hour, 45 minutes, 30 minutes. They don’t necessarily have to be in that order. If you don’t have access to a gym, then use bodyweight exercises for your strength training. Check out this site for some good bodyweight exercise ideas.
Words of Encouragement from a Personal Trainer
The battle to fit exercise into your regular routine really takes place in your head. As an entrepreneur, you probably have already proved that you can accomplish the difficult when you set your mind to it. Taking care of your health should be no different.
Approach it with the same tenacity, drive, focus, creativity, and work ethic that you approach your business. At the end of the day, it will pay off. Hang in there and while you’re waiting, give me 20 squats.