We are all busy. Moving your fitness and health from optional to a priority is important, but not easy. Whilst there seem to be an increasing number of fitness opportunities with the gym open 24/7, running and cycling groups, outdoor fitness and yoga sessions and more, the hurdle may not be the availability of exercise opportunities. But rather, we are getting stuck in routines and patterns and often a struggle of work-life balance with work, more often than not, taking the bigger priority.
Deciding to prioritising fitness is a first step. Then, finding techniques to inject exercise into your daily life is the next.
1.Set and Track Your Fitness Goals
Are your training for and event? Are you hitting the gym to lose some weight? Or is exercise a way to incorporate health into your hectic daily life?
Your goals and motivations are personal.
Writing them down, setting a timeline to achieve them and tracking your progress is an important part of motivation. This will help you stick to your exercise schedule and can help you reprioritise your fitness schedule amongst the other important aspects of daily life.
Building a holistic plan to achieve your goal is key to reaching it. If you look for example at people training for a marathon, you will see that this is always based on a training plan. This plan builds their mental and physical capabilities over time and helps them achieve the running fitness that will get them to the finish line.
Regardless of your goal, know what is driving you. Build a plan to reach it. And track your progress. It will become a part of you.
2.Calendarize Your Exercise
Treat your fitness like any other meeting!
As soon as you treat your fitness as an optional activity it will rapidly move from the top of your priority list to the bottom, and potentially stay there.
By writing it down, blocking your gym time in your calendar will be a first step to ensuring it has it’s rightful place in your days schedule.
Make sure however that you don’t just write your exercise time. Block the entire time needed for your trip to the gym. Your travel time, time to get changed, warm-up and exercise time, shower time, and your return travel. It is even wise to build in a buffer, you never know who you might bump in to at the gym.
If you find yourself rushing, you will lose enjoyment and soon stop altogether. Set yourself up so you can enjoy your exercise.
3.Exercise in the Morning
By getting your exercise done in the morning you will reduce the risk of postponing. Sure, this takes some discipline if you are not a morning person. It is however possible with a few simple steps to set yourself up for successful morning exercise.
The risk of leaving your fitness plans to the end of the day is that a lot can happen during the day. A bad day in the office may mean that a glass of wine becomes more interesting than the gym. Friends may call with ‘better’ ideas for how you should spend your evening. Or worst case scenario, you may get held up in meetings, projects and deadlines which take over your evening.
By shifting your gym routine to the morning you are less likely to suffer unexpected changes. This way, you take control of your training.
4. Plan Your Exercise Before You Get to the Gym
Turning up at the gym without a plan can result in you not only losing time but most likely also not getting the most out of your training.
There are so many apps on the market that can help you build a training plan and your exercises to achieve your specific fitness goals. Using the available resources will not only improve your fitness, it will also make your time in the gym more efficient.
This is true regardless of sport, whether it is exercise in the gym, time on the bike or going out running. Plan your route before you get out. It will increase your commitment, help your motivation and make your training efficient.
5.Plan Your Session for the Time You Have
Not every trip to the gym needs to last hours.
In some cases it is suggested that High Intensity Interval Training could be as short as 15 minutes if done correctly. A friend once gave me a book, Body by Science by Doug McGuff and John Little. He is a regular business traveler who had ‘no time to exercise’, yet was able to stay fit on his frequent travels by incorporating the HIIT according to the program outlined in Body by Science.
The same is true for all sports, if your are a runner you can vary your runs. Not only with this help you improve your running, your running will also benefit from the varied training. Incorporate hill sprints and intervals during the week, and save your long runs for the weekend.
On the bike, jump on the turbo trainer for a short interval session when the time is not available.
6.Find a Training Partner
Commitment is always a good motivator.
When you have made commitment to a friend it suddenly becomes harder to back out of your training. If you are training in the gym, setting a regular session with an instructor can also help in ensuring you don’t skip on your exercise. However, ensuring you get your exercise in should not cost you extra money.
Joining a local running group can be a solution. Ideally a group where there is a big dependency on your presence, this will have a higher impact on your need to be present. If you do not show up to exercise, it will not only impact you, but also your training partner. Cruel, but true.
7.Build a Routine
Building an exercise routine in what can otherwise be a hectic life can be important to achieving your fitness goal.
When you plan your exercise schedule, don’t over commit. Start small. Plan a routine that is sustainable. The urge to make quick gains by getting to the gym often may be tempting, but also unrealistic. Plan your gym days with consistency. You may start with two designated gym days per week. Once this exercise routine is running as planned, add a third day.
8.Make the Most of your Limited Downtime
Your exercise can be done at home!
We all need our downtime, and for some of us that may mean getting home, the sofa and netflix.
Staying fit does not need to involve heading out to a gym, or even leaving the house. Creating your home gym is more accessible than ever. Alternatively simply focusing on bodyweight activities can take you a long way with no investment other than a small amount of time.
Therefore, Instead of heading for the couch, use this time to exercise at home. You can even do your exercises in front of the TV. There is no need to miss out on your favourite shows.
Don’t turn your fitness ambitions into more than they need to be. Relatively small steps can set you on a journey, build a routine and lay the foundations to build on. Once you find the routine you will find it easier to prioritise your fitness and health. As you build your knowledge and get to know your exercises you will become more efficient. Once you are training regularly you will discover a heightened level of energy that would will in tern take back from sport into your daily life!
Jeroen is a keen runner and triathlete. With over 10 years of experience training and participating in races, simply for the joy of sport he has turned to sharing his experience through the articles he writes. As a founder at Loop Social Sport Jeroen has focused his passion on creating a community of like minded individuals who not only train together but also motivate newcomers to take up sport, whether in person or via this blog.