How To Find Time To Workout With A Busy Schedule
"I really would love to workout more, but I just can’t find the time!”
“That person works out so much, they must have so much time on their hands!”
“I want to workout more, but I’m just so busy!”
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Do you find yourself constantly making a new plan to ‘workout more’, then when it comes to implementing it, you find yourself falling flat? Don’t worry - you are not alone. When it comes to finding time within our busy schedules, it’s usually our workouts that end up being pushed to the side. And I completely get it. Daily workouts require planning, organization and time management – and that’s on-top of the physical requirements that come with a good workout. I’m exhausted just thinking about.
However, here’s the thing. There are some tricks to making daily activity more attainable, no matter how busy your schedule is:
Finding time really means making time
It hurts because you know it’s true. If there is something that we really want to do, we always make the time to do it. If you are someone who has a jam-packed schedule, then do what needs to be done to incorporate your workouts into your day. Maybe that means switching some meetings around to make time for a lunch-time sweat, pushing drinks a little later so you’re able to workout after work, or even saying ‘no’ to some social gatherings.
Prioritize your workouts like you would anything else that is important to you and do what needs to be done in order to fit them in. It may not be easy at first, and you might even find some friends start questioning where you are, or why you’re not coming out so much, but trust me, it will all be worth it in the end. (And maybe you’ll even become an inspiration to your friends in the process!)
Schedule your workout like an appointment
This is great for people who live by their Outlook, Gmail or i-Cal. If you are someone who has everything in your day planned to the second, then let’s add another ‘meeting’ or ‘appointment’ where you’ve got some free time. To stay consistent, and if your schedule allows it, carve out that time in your routine every day. That doesn’t mean that your workout must be the same every day, but it does mean that timeslot from 6-7am, for example, is available for you to get your sweat on. Keeping that consistency, and sticking to it, allows you to create that habit and know that timeslot is always open, no matter what the day brings.
Find a studio that has a cancellation fee
When I first started working out at more ‘boutique’ studios in Toronto a few years ago, and I would explain that I couldn’t cancel my workout within a certain window otherwise I would get charged, people would look at me like I was a crazy person. At to be honest, at first, I also thought it was a little absurd. But I can promise you, after missing my workout once and getting charged a lovely $15, I quickly swore I would never do that again. So, as crazy as it may seem, it truly does help to keep you accountable and makes you second guess before skipping your workouts.
Minimize how much time you spend not working out
This is an important one and something that we tend to overlook. One of the main reasons that we always end up skipping or moving our workouts is likely because of the total time it takes to workout – everything from travel time, to workout time, to shower time, and everything in between. It can definitely seem like a big ordeal for only a 45-60 minute workout.
My suggestion is to do a little pre-planning in order to minimize the amount of time you spend not actually working out. The goal here is to make your workouts more efficient. Some small ways to do that are:
- Choose studios/gyms close to where you live, or on your way home from work. This will decrease the amount of time you are travelling to your workout.
- Have a pre-packed toiletries bag with all your necessities that permanently lives in your gym bag. That way all you need to think about are your workout clothes and shoes, and you know everything else is already good to go.
- Change into your active wear before you head to the gym, or plan to workout after work so you can just head straight home in your sweaty workout wear. Don’t worry, I do it all the time.
- Dry shampoo. Enough said.
Wake up earlier or work out at lunch
This one might be a bit obvious, but sometimes we just need to hear it from someone else. Use those precious hours before your day begins or during your lunch time to get your daily sweat in. If you know that your day is jam-packed right up until 9pm at night, chances are you won’t want to lace up your runners after a long 12-hour day. So, get the workout done before you have any other distractions, or, if you’re able to, use that lunch slot wisely and head to the gym. There are lots of studios now that offer shorter lunch time classes, allowing you to workout, shower, and be back at the office in just over an hour. Don’t think about it, just do it!
Schedule fitness socials
This is one of my absolute favourite things to do. If you have a friend or some friends who you haven’t seen in a while, then instead of the usual dinner and drinks, why don’t you suggest a Saturday morning spin class followed by a catch-up over coffee. It’s fun, a great way to have some quality time with your friends and squeeze in your workout. Plus, you will all end up feeling amazing after! You may have some friends who moan and groan at first, but I promise you, they’ll be hooked after one weekend sweat-session.
Turn your commute into a workout
This one isn’t possible for everyone, but I wanted to throw it in here anyway. If you’re someone who lives fairly close to your place of work, consider switching your usual subway or streetcar commute for a more active one. Think about investing in a bike, roller blades or a good commuting backpack and run to work.
Run-commuting is very popular and such an incredible way to make sure you are achieving your daily activity goal. There are lots of blogs and forums with information, advice and tips if run-commuting is something you’d like to incorporate. (Seriously, some people are run-commute ninjas and have the absolute best advice – everything from the best running equipment, things to keep at work, how to do it if you don’t have access to a shower and so on.)
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Probably the easiest way to ensure you are making time for your workouts when you have a busy schedule is to plan ahead. It’s as simple as that. Take a few extra minutes either on the weekend or before bed every night to plan out the next day or few days. Pre-pack your gym bag, make your breakfast for the next day so you can grab it from the fridge on your way to a 6am class, prepare your protein-shake for after your workout – whatever that may look like for you. With a few minutes of planning, you will find that squeezing in your workouts, whether they be a quick 20 minute HIIT or a full 60 minute workout – much more achievable, and you will be left feeling accomplished, proud and motivated to keep going.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see how to make time to workout or exercise with such a busy schedule - especially in the summer, when our schedules tend to get even busier. Well, I agree, so I reached out to my two gal-pals and serious badasses, both of which have the busiest of schedules, to see how they make it all happen.
1. What does your average day look like?
Ainsley: My alarm goes at 4:45am and I head to CrossFit COL in Burlington, Ontario to coach the 5:30am and 6:30am classes. I then get ready and head to work as the Assistant Athletic Director at Appleby College in Oakville. I head to the Office around 9am and work until 4-4:30pm. After work I head back to the gym for "me time". I usually complete my extra work programmed by my coach before completing the class WOD with Shawn (my boyfriend) and the rest of my community and friends. Back home and throughout the day I make sure I am eating properly, hydrating and getting the sleep I need.
Alena: My day starts promptly at 5am when my first (of 3) alarms goes off. I head to the gym for a 5:30am workout because I love starting my day with a sweat and prioritizing my own workout before I help others do the same! After my workout I head to a local training facility (shoutout to Meraki Fitness) where I start my first athlete session at 7am. My second wave of athletes come through at 8:30am, with my final group of the morning at 10am. I have a kickass group of athletes, so I love spending my morning with them helping them get ready for their upcoming season. I then head home to eat (all the food), and give myself a couple minutes to decompress, shower and watch a quick episode of Chopped on the Food Network. From here my schedule changes depending on the day ... sometimes I head to coach another session, meet with a nutrition coaching client or set up at a Starbucks to do some desk work (the glamorous life of an entrepreneur). Other days you'll catch me at BOLO downtown Toronto teaching some afternoon and early evening classes (check the schedule and come hang!). Finally, I try to shut down my day by 7pm to spend time with family and friends, or kick back on the couch to watch more Food Network or The Mindy Project. 9pm bedtimes are my jam so I can do it all over again the next day!
2. What things do you find help you keep on track when it comes to exercise?
Alena: My priorities and self-care. I prioritize my training because I know it positively affects my health. As a coach, it's so easy to get caught up in doing things for your athletes and clients but I learned very quickly that in order to be my best I need to take care of myself first. Also, getting it done first thing in the morning eliminates it from your to-do list so you don't have to worry about fitting it in later!
The community at CrossFit COL
My boyfriend, Shawn
3. What is your favourite exercise or exercises that you do when you're crunched for time and want to get a good sweat in?
Hitting the pavement for a run
Quick WOD or Metcon
Spin Class - even though I am highly uncoordinated :)
Alena: I am a huge believer in low-maintenance, accessible workouts. I think there is so much we can accomplish with zero equipment and a little bit of space. When I'm short on time I focus on the major movements - squat, hinge, push, pull, lunge and core stability. Getting in these movements ensures you're working the major muscle groups of the body to create a short, yet effective workout!
Example: Prisoner Squats, Incline Push-ups, Pull-ups, Inchworms, Reverse Lunge, Plank ... complete each exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds between. After 1 set, rest for 60 seconds and repeat 3-4 times.
Ainsley Dreisinger is a CrossFit Coach, Assistant Athletic Director at Appleby College, goal crusher, self-proclaimed donut monster and serious #fitspo.
Alena Luciani is a strength & conditioning coach, entrepreneur, Lululemon Ambassador at Lulu Yorkdale, and healthy lifestylist (yes, I made that word up, but it works!). She is the creator of Training2XL and it's her mission in life to share her passion for training, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle with people and help others excel in sport and in life!f