Navigating the adult world after a more care-free college experience can definitely be challenging. You want to have a great job, maintain solid relationships, exceed the expectations you set for yourself and of course find time to do things you enjoy (saying ‘no’ to brunch just isn’t an option). And then comes the question we hear all too often: How do we fit working out into our demanding schedules? We talked to women who are just as ambitious about maintaining their health as they are about succeeding in their busy lives to find out their tips about prioritizing gym time. Your obligations may change every week, but these tricks will help you keep your workout motivation on track.
1. Schedule your workouts ahead of time
You rarely ever miss an appointment or meeting, so why should you miss a workout? Yes, life happens and sometimes plans come up, but if you treat your workouts as an important obligation rather than an option, you’ll be less likely to bail on them.
Mara Hyman, University of Southern California ‘14, understands the importance of treating your health as a priority. “I think the key with fitting time into your schedule to work out is acknowledging the fact that your health is as much, if not more so of a priority than your job or other responsibilities,” she continues. “Change your mindset and take ownership in your workouts, and you'll find that everything else will fall into place—you’ll sleep better, you'll be more productive at work and you'll feel better.” Making time to workout ultimately benefits all areas of your life because you’re taking care of yourself first.
2. Do workouts you actually enjoy
Danielle Smith, Emmanuel College ‘17, agrees it’s easier to make time for workouts when you look forward to them. “Fitness classes such as boot camp and Zumba are two of my favorites because they are not only motivating throughout the entire hour, but are also enjoyable when you get to dance to the beat and still work up a sweat.” Dancing that counts as cardio? Yes, please.
Being around others in a workout class can also feel like great motivation to keep coming back. Maybe you’ll even make some friends or find others who push you to challenge yourself. Working out doesn't have to feel like a burden, it’s worth taking the time to find workouts you can have fun with.
3. Switch up your workouts
Part of finding workouts you enjoy involves mixing your workout routines up, Hannah LeBlanc, St. Joseph’s College ‘16, says, “Switch your workout up as much as possible. If you are a member at a gym that offers a variety of classes, try a different one each time you go to the gym,” she continues. “Trying a variety of workouts will not only challenge your muscles but also help you not get bored or stuck in the same routine.” Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone to try a new workout class, such as boxing or yoga, is exactly the change of pace you need to keep the gym interesting. Plus, participating in a variety of workouts means you’re engaging different muscles each time and will see better results in the end.
4. Wake up early
We’ll wait for the groans and eye rolls to be over. Finished yet? We totally get waking up early to workout as opposed to getting an extra hour of sleep before your busy day may seem ridiculous. Especially when one of your favorite college relationships was with your bed. But hear us out because working out in the morning is more beneficial than you may think.
Hannah is the type who does whatever it takes to fit a workout in. “If it works for your schedule, try to workout earlier in the morning,” she shares. “Yes it might mean waking up a little earlier, but at the end of your workout you'll feel more energized and have the rest of the day to do what you want!” It’s true that workouts release endorphins that help make you happy. This good mood and energy boost will allow you to tackle your busy day ahead of you. Think of it as getting your workout over with early on. This way you don’t have an entire day to make up excuses as to why you should skip your gym time. Wake up, work out and enjoy the rest of your day without the thought of a workout looming over you.
5. Choose your workout buddy wisely
Anything in life is more enjoyable when shared with a friend. Finding a workout buddy can be difficult because you want someone who will motivate you, and we all know it’s not easy to say ‘no’ to your best friend when she says you should skip the gym and ‘treat yoself’ to margaritas instead. Ann Shoket, former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine and author, shares some great advice about “embracing the mess” in her book The Big Life. Her thoughts on work-life balance? “It doesn’t exist. And I don’t think it should.” The idea of having everything under control at all times is simply unreasonable, which is why it’s okay to miss a workout here or there if needed.
Ann rarely ever says ‘no’ to an invite—yes, even a woman this successful still gets FOMO. This means exercise sometimes takes a backseat to all of her other obligations. The solution? Use workouts as a chance to strengthen relationships and network. When we asked Shoket what her favorite type of workout is, she was quick to remind us that success means always hustling. “I love Pilates and spin, but it's the first thing to fall off my calendar when I get busy. I always try to enlist a friend or colleague so we can either get bonding in or some work.” Networking during a workout? Impressive. Even the most powerful women have trouble finding time to workout, but they stay fabulous because they always get back on track.
6. Find a gym or workout class near your office
Whether this means finding a workout studio or fitness center on your route to work, seeing it every day will give you no excuse not to stop in. Sarah McDaniel, Indiana University '17, uses this trick to her advantage. “I bought a yoga membership for a studio that's on my way home from work and has classes at 5:30 every day. I drive past it after leaving work at 5 so I have no excuse not to go!” She continues, “I also use it as my one hour of ‘me’ time when I'm not focused on work or anything else, and get to de-stress. It makes all the difference.” If you’re one of the lucky ones, there may even be a company gym right at your office! Take advantage of location and be sure to keep a change of workout clothes handy.
Taking the time to carve out a few hours a week to focus on your health is crucial to success. However you decide to incorporate workouts into your weekly routines, just be sure you’re having fun with it. Going to the gym every day can be boring, but if you go with a friend or find new classes to take, you’ll motivate yourself to keep going. Cheers!
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