Clients are always asking me for my secret to make working out not feel like a chore. How do I work out every day with a smile? My answer is simple. Exercise is so much a part of my life that I don’t think of it as something to check off on my to-do list but rather something I GET to do!
It didn’t always feel like this. When I was training to become a future Division I tennis player at Lehigh University, my parents instilled in me that the only way to improve was by exercising and training outside of my mandatory practices and matches. My initial thought was “you expect me to go for a run or rep out push-ups without my coach forcing me to?”
Well, the truth is, as a 16-year-old, I did what my parents told me to. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they helped me build a routine that included exercise. Thankfully, most of us are no longer in the position to be forced to do anything by our parents.
However, what I learned is that little by little, mile by mile, my days started to feel incomplete without breaking a sweat. This was how my habit started. Whether it was a mile run outside after school or begging friends to join me in the football-player-studded gym, I started to love working out. I felt stronger, more confident and stepped up my tennis game from average to the Division I level.
This article isn’t meant to sell you on the benefits of working out. Been there, done that. Rather, I want to help you get to the point that exercise is as common for you as brushing your teeth in the morning.
Here’s the key word: routine. Once exercise is part of your routine, it becomes part of your lifestyle. The most important thing is to find a time that works for you, whether that’s first thing in the morning, lunchtime, after work or even at a random time during the work day. As long as it works for you, you are golden.
Some people swear by morning workouts, arguing that 7 a.m. is the best time to exercise, but here’s my counter argument: if you’re not a morning person and setting your alarm an hour early sounds like the worst thing in the world, in what universe would you possibly enjoy working out at that time? There is no correct time to work out to see the best results. The correct time is the time the works best for you.
I have learned that if I have to wait until 6 p.m. to fit in a workout, I will be tired, hungry and dreading what’s supposed to be my time to de-stress and sweat. Falling into a routine is tough, especially when the goals you set for that routine are intimidating and unrealistic. Instead of deciding that part of your new routine will be to work out for an hour during lunch every day, choose a more achievable goal. Set aside 20 minutes instead. Make sure the time you choose allows you to set aside your phone or laptop and any other distractions that might come your way.
I’m a big list girl. I write everything down, from my grocery list to my packing list. Because my days are constantly changing depending on my client schedule, I sometimes get overwhelmed with everything I need to get done. This is where a list comes in handy. I plan out my days ahead of time by actually writing down the day’s events and where my workout will fit in. I have the luxury of creating my own schedule. Though I can easily bombard myself with back-to-back clients from morning to night, I always make sure to leave time, always before noon, to get in a workout. With most of us working from home, our schedules are a bit more flexible. We can take the time we used to have to commute to work and instead fit in a workout.
Decide what time is right for you and plan your day accordingly. If that means waking up a bit earlier or eating dinner later, plan around that. My biggest piece of advice to break into a routine is to start small. Pick a time and start there. If you choose to work out in the morning, start by setting your alarm to the time necessary to fit in a workout and get used to waking up that much earlier. If you choose to use your lunch break for a workout, plan a time to squeeze in your lunch. It might involve a smaller snack before the workout and some post-workout protein for recovery rather than one big, sit-down meal.
Exercise should be routine in your daily life. When it becomes a chore that you are forcing yourself to do, it won’t get done. Working out should be a gift to yourself everyday, not something you dread, so make it fun! If after work is usually your time to catch up on your favorite show, grab your phone, iPad or computer and watch the latest episode while running on the treadmill or spinning on the bike. I have done many workouts while watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” While it may have taken a little extra time and I might not have pushed myself as hard as I do other times, I got it done and that’s what counts.
Everyone starts somewhere. all you have to do is make time. Start with 20 minutes and build up from there. You will find that soon working out is a part of your routine that you cannot live without!
Here’s a 45 minute workout to squeeze into your daily routine!
Gabby Drucker owns Drucker Fitness, a Philadelphia-based personal training studio and online training business. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Pre and Postnatal Certified Trainer. Follow her on Instagram at @druckerfitness or visit druckerfitness.com.