How, specifically, do you work an exercise routine into your busy day?
November 25, 2004 10:36 AM   Subscribe

How, specifically, do you work an exercise routine into your busy day? [mi]

I'd like to start a new exercise regimen in the mornings. I work a 9-to-5 job, and I haven't got too many commitments outside of work. But it seems like working out at a gym introduces an awful lot of variables in to the workday. Morning, evening, at lunchtime? Avoid peak hours or bring on the crowds? My question is, how do you end up organizing the various demands of going to the gym into a program that works for you? What's your "system"? For example, say you work out in the morning. You wake up early. Do you then eat breakfast? Or do you pack a breakfast and wait until after the workout? Shower at home and at the gym? Or one of the other? Neither? Bring your gym clothes in a bag? Wear them to the gym? Is your gym somewhere between your home and your office? Or somewhere else? Skip the gym and just go jogging? I'd like to hear as many details as possible.
posted by Succa to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I run because I enjoy it, it's a good workout and it's easy (don't have to go to a gym, only need new shoes a few times a year). In the summer I try to run before work because it's cooler. When I run in the morning, breakfast is usally fruit and a granola bar taken to work. Other times of the year I run after work. It's hard in the winter when it's dark, so I usually try to run on Sat. and Sun. so I can get by on one or two runs during the week.
posted by Frank Grimes at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2004

up early and run (even in the dark - i live in a place without snow or ice) before shower + breakfast. sorry, don't go to the gym.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:13 AM on November 25, 2004

Wake up @ 5:00 am, go to work @ 7:00 am, eat breakfast at desk, enjoy a reasonable lunch around noon, get off work ~5:00, then head straight to the gym and spend 45-60 minutes. Go home hungry, freshen up.

Repeat three or four times weekly.
posted by davidmsc at 11:23 AM on November 25, 2004

My key is treating the workout like it is actual work, like job type jobbie job work that lasts one hour. That way I look at is as something I have to go do, it takes priority over all other activities. I don't work it into my schedule so much as I work my schedule around it. I greatly prefer going at off-peak times. The same workout can take twice as long if the gym is crowded. And have flexibility within your routine itself, learn several different exercises for each body part so that if one day a piece of equipment is being monopolized you can can just do a different exercise. And, bring music. That will cut down on one's natural desire to socialize and keep you focussed on why you're there and get you out quicker. Another tip, while I am on record as hating 24 Hour Fitness with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns (and I believe I have used just that metaphor in the past) the fact that they have multiple locations really facilitates making it in there daily, especially if you're in a big city and your office and home are spread out from one another.
posted by vito90 at 11:33 AM on November 25, 2004

Hire a personal trainer, and schedule 6am gym meetings two or three times a week (depending on budget). Note - you will pay less per hour if you schedule more sessions in a given time period.

Knowing that there is a person waiting for me at the gym - and knowing that I am paying for that person's time whether or not I show up - ensures that I show up at the gym bright and early and on time at 6am
posted by seawallrunner at 11:44 AM on November 25, 2004

Boredom is my #1 enemy at the gym. I work out longer and feel better if I'm not bored.

The music suggestion is right on the mark. I bring my own magazines--I can't get through my cardio without one (and the fitness or golf mags at the gym aren't interesting to me). If you were working out in the evening, and your gym has TVs, I'd suggest planning cardio workouts around TV shows that'll keep your attention. Not sure if that's as likely in the morning.

If I were running, I'd look for locales with scenery.
posted by gimonca at 11:52 AM on November 25, 2004

vito90 mentioned having a variety of exercises for each body part. Anyone know of any good websites describing such exercises? ie, different types of ab workouts, etc.

vito90's concept of treating working out like a job seems like a great idea. Right now my wife and I live in a complex that contains a gym, yet we still find it difficult to find time, despite the fact that there is no to-and-from-gym commute.

I would prefer to have my workout contained within my workday, such that when I come home I'm already done. I'd like to work out during lunch (I have a gym at work as well), but haven't started doing this yet.

When I lived in Philadelphia, I was able to access a 10-mile bike loop very close to my home; this loop took about 40 minutes to complete and was an excellent workout. In addition, it was free. I miss the biking now; although there are places to bike in my new location, they are not as readily accessible from home as my Philly loop was.

I'm off to the gym.. :)
posted by cahlers at 11:53 AM on November 25, 2004

I bring magazines too, and get a significant amount of reading done on the stationary bike - usually the fiction section of The New Yorker. I enjoy being able to multitask, ie getting some reading done and also working out.
posted by cahlers at 11:55 AM on November 25, 2004

I go to a gym close to my work everyday during the week, either during my lunch hour or after work.

If I go at lunch I'll eat a small snack half an hour before and will do a 45-min. aerobics class or 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer. That gives me enough time to have a quick shower and get back to work, where I'll eat my lunch at my desk. If I do the aerobics class, I'll stay after work to make up the extra time I took at lunch. I usually go at lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays because the gym is really crowded after work early in the week.

If I go after work, usually on Wed/Thurs/Fri, I'll do an hour aerobics class or free-weight training. I'll have a small snack at 4:30 and hit the gym at 5. Sometimes I take a shower after, sometimes I go home sweaty. Dinner is an hour later at home.

Each day I make sure I have a gym clothes, a clean towel and a change of underwear along with my running shoes in my backpack. At lunch I wear my sports bra, running shoes and gym socks to the gym if it's a nice day as it cuts down on my changing time in the locker room.

I personally hate going to the gym when it's really crowded and have found a way to schedule my exercise around the peak times. A great thing about my membership is that there are 5 other gyms that I can go to around the city. So I can hit a different gym if my scheduling requires me to be somewhere else after work.

I live an hour public commute from my gym so working out in the morning is not an option for me. If I could walk to the gym at 6 AM, workout and leave to go to work, that would be great. Then I could have my lunch hour to relax and my own free time after work. I don't like the idea of jogging in my suburban area in the morning - I'd prefer to jog on a path or trail away from traffic. I've also got workout DVDs that I've tried once and shelved so home workouts aren't an option for me either. I've gone for a walk once in the evening but it took a long time to burn the calories I needed and I thought I'd get more out of the time spent at the gym.

I've recently had to go through what you're dealing with right now and have weighed my options based on what works for me. Once you start trying different scenarios you'll begin to know which ones work for you.
posted by KathyK at 11:57 AM on November 25, 2004

I lift weights three times a week in my lunch hour, M W F. 30 minutes of lifting is a lot if you go hard. I also play capoeira once or twice a week, I sometimes run on weekends and Tuesday and Thursday, and I cycle to work whenever it's not raining. I pretty much have shorts, shoes, a tshirt and a towel in my backpack every day. Luckily, my workplaces have always had a shower.

My advice is: make exercise your first priority - part of the time that you claim for yourself above other things. Do not skip exercise any more than you would skip lunch. Also, look for opportunities to incorporate exercise into the day naturally, by walking when you would normally ride.

Once you have forced yourself for two or three weeks, you'll find it's such a habit that you get cranky when you can't exercise, and that you look forward to it, even if you can't imagine that now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:25 PM on November 25, 2004

I can never make myself go to the gym for the sake of going to the gym, so I joined a climbing gym, and I go 3 times a week, in the evenings. Its fun, doesn't feel like work, and it's getting me in good shape.
posted by sauril at 12:26 PM on November 25, 2004

I bike to and from work, anywhere between 10 and 21 miles each way. Now that its getting dark, I get in to work earlier and go on a 2-hour ride for lunch.
posted by neilkod at 12:28 PM on November 25, 2004

For me, I have to obey my body's natural rhythms. For intellectual tasks, I am very much a morning person. For physical tasks, however, I am very much an evening person. Although it does not fit as well with the rest of my day, an evening workout is the only way to go for me.

I also find that multitasking helps. I don't allow myself to watch TV if I'm not running on a treadmill. This helps me A) run more, and B) watch less TV.

For exercises, I enjoy
posted by taang at 12:31 PM on November 25, 2004

Fortunately, there's a gym at my work. Breaks up the day real nice.
posted by adampsyche at 1:10 PM on November 25, 2004

I've got a really chaotic schedule. The only thing that works for me is to decide each night when I am going to hit the gym the following day, and then meet that appointment as if I were meeting another person. It works best if I can get there right around 10AM--just after rush hour, but before the lunchtime aerobics bunnies flood the place. I can't stand peak hours, I hate waiting and I really hate all the socializing that goes on at those times.

For exercises: ExRx
posted by Tholian at 1:57 PM on November 25, 2004

These days I usually get to work at 6am. At noon, I have a light lunch and then hit the gym at 1:00pm, 3 times a week. Ninety minutes each time -- mixed weight and endurance on the bikes -- then back to work until 6pm. My predecessor in this position died of a heart attack, so my boss is more than happy to let me work out midday.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:33 PM on November 25, 2004

I second the cycle to work suggestion. (Speaking as a Torontonian, cycling year round is easy)

Live too far from your work? Well then, you should be asking a different question...
posted by Chuckles at 4:28 PM on November 25, 2004

Response by poster: Unfortunately, I live too close to work for it to be a worthwhile cycling distance. I've found a couple of good candidates for gyms on the way to work and I should be able to get there regularly. Your suggestions are great, all.
posted by Succa at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2004

I work out after work, three times a week (well, that's the intent...). I found that working out before work left me feeling great with lots of energy. Until about 2:30pm that is. That's the time I would be so dead I'd have to take a nap.

But routine? Work 9-6. Walk to the gym which is 2 city blocks away from my office. Spend about 90 minutes there during which time I change, work out, shower, and change back into work clothes for the bus ride home.

When I was going before work, I would shower first and also after the workout. But, I take public transportation and felt guilty being morning-stinky on a bus. If you don't take public transportation, than that won't be an issue.

Don't work out on an empty stomach. Eat something. Bread and water if that's all you have. You'll need something in your stomach or you'll lose energy.
posted by bDiddy at 7:39 PM on November 25, 2004

I go to the gym in my workout clothes, with my regular clothes with me (my gym also has, for an extra fee, personal lockers you can simply keep all your stuff in all the time.) I shower after I work out.
posted by konolia at 7:40 PM on November 25, 2004

I've been doing weightwatchers so try and get lots of exercise (you can swap exercise for food - or rather, beer). Where I work the gym is very busy at the times you'd want to go and is pretty much unusable morning, lunchtime and evening. But running is good. Is there a park near you? I find changing at the gym and going for a 45 minute jog works well at lunchtime. If you can take more than an hour, then running longer and/or finishing off the jog with some weights is a great lunchtime workout. Sometimes i go to a class at the gym - circuits, aerobics, whatever. Sometimes I take an early or late lunch and do some CV stuff. Sometimes I stay late. Sometimes I get my bike out at lunchtime and just get out of town for a bit. It's good to get outdoors - the treadmill/crosstrainer/stationary bikes can be too much like hamster wheels, but they're good when it's dark outside.

For me, the variety is important and I'm not a morning person. So, I tend to timetable the week's exercise on monday around whatever meetings I know I've got to attend. (I am fairly sure that the variety is important from an exercise and fitness perspective, but even if it isn't, the psychological benefits are great - I'm easily bored).

There's also what I think of as the "crap" exercise - not long enough to count, but probably helping anyway. Whilst I, like you, live too close for cycling to be real exercise I cycle in anyway (i figure 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the day has got to help), try and get the stairs where possible, walk everywhere. I think it all adds up.
posted by handee at 1:49 AM on November 26, 2004

Response by poster: OK. I've gone and signed up at the lovely Nautilus Plus in downtown Montreal. To get myself used to the morning cycle, I've got a few sessions with a trainer starting at 7 AM, and I can't wait to start. Thanks again, everyone.
posted by Succa at 7:02 AM on November 26, 2004

Succa - congratulations on taking some action. I hope it works out (so to speak), and if it doesn't, that you try something else.

I think the most critical factor in whether a person does or doesn't continue to exercise is getting something positive out of it - feeling good, feeling good about yourself, stress release, whatever. If you don't enjoy it - at some level - your mind will find some way to make excuses (just for a day, a week, a month, a season, ... ), and you'll stop.

There are a lot of good suggestions in this postings above. If the gym doesn't work out (I hope it does), then you might want to make a list of (say) four other alternatives, and try one for a month. If you don't enjoy that one, try the next. Sooner or later, you're likely to find something that works for you.

Good luck!
posted by WestCoaster at 9:21 AM on November 26, 2004

Chuckles: Live too far from your work? Well then, you should be asking a different question...

Succa: Unfortunately, I live too close to work for it to be a worthwhile cycling distance. I've found a couple of good candidates for gyms on the way to work and I should be able to get there regularly. Your suggestions are great, all.

posted by Chuckles at 2:27 PM on November 26, 2004

I'm a huge fan of my 8:30-4:00 work schedule (with half an hour for lunch). I hit the gym after work, and am done with my day at the same time 9-5ers finish. The gym is rarely crowded at that time, too.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:02 AM on November 27, 2004

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