There was a time (which now seems like a long, long time ago) when my workout wasn’t a rushed affair squeezed in between meetings, daycare pickup, and folding laundry. Recently, I found myself feeling a tinge of jealousy when I realized my friend who was working out after work had the luxury of a warm up, a long workout, a full cool down, and a long, hot shower in her own bathroom.
My workouts these days used to be my warm ups. As a full-time working mother of two young girls, I’ve adopted a new exercise motto: “Something is better than nothing.” Here are a few suggestions on how to sneak in a little rowing, skiing and riding in your life, no matter what demands are placed on your time.
1. Sneak in Something
I’m not kidding: my workouts used to be my warm ups. There are days where I find myself with only 10–15 minutes to spare. If I have to decide whether to exercise or not, I motivate for 10 minutes of exercise and budget five minutes for changing outfits (I have to shower either way, so I will sneak in a quick one!). Without exercise, I get cranky. So even a few minutes of movement are worthwhile. I’ll often “Just Row/Ski/Ride” on the Performance Monitor and try to get in as much as I can. I still believe in gradually increasing the intensity of my exercise, so I’ll start out easily and try to end the last few minutes at a higher intensity.
2. Go Hard or Go Home
Some days, I just need to get my heart rate up, so I like to challenge myself to get in some hard work. Last week, I raced 1000 meters in the World Rowing Virtual Indoor Sprints after a 10 minute warm up. I didn’t prepare much for it, but I gave myself that opportunity to focus and feel strong for approximately four minutes. These hard sweaty sessions can help me feel alive in an otherwise exhausting schedule. My entire workout took only 20 minutes!
3. Dress for Success
There are days that I stay in my workout clothes in the hopes that I’ll find a few minutes here or there to get in some meters. In some cases, that has even meant rowing with a baby monitor perched nearby. (There are days the ratio of wearing Spandex to actually working out is nearing 10:1.) My interval workouts may have a few hours, instead of minutes, in between each set of work. These meters can add up, though, if I allow myself these breaks throughout the day. Small rows help clear my head.
I always feeling like I am multitasking: I’ll be drafting a work email when my husband texts me about dinner plans, all while trying not to spill the lunch that I’m eating at my desk. Unlike rowing or skiing, the BikeErg allows for hands-free access to my smartphone. So, yes, I’ll confess to answering emails and texts while riding. Other days I’ll catch up on my favorite podcast or show. It helps me feel that I’m accomplishing something, even if I’m not giving either activity my full attention.
5. Let Concept2 Do the Work
Mental exhaustion is real. When I find time to work out, I often am at a loss of what to do. The Workout of the Day (WOD) email takes one decision out of my day. It’s a helpful solution for when I don’t want to make any more choices. I usually only have time to opt for the Short workout; it’s plenty long!
6. Set New Goals
When my schedule seems stressful and exhausting, it’s not the best time for me to aim for new personal records (PRs). I find that with a little consistency, however, I start feeling stronger again. It only takes a few minutes of exercise for me to start feeling the positive benefits. Once I get started, I’m always a little more motivated to find more time for myself. I’ve learned to be forgiving of myself when I feel slow or weak. Doing any exercise is already winning!
7. Join a Challenge
The Concept2 Challenges can be just the right motivation to help commit to new goals. I joined the 2017 Holiday Challenge excited to ward of holiday stress with a goal of 200,000 meters. By declaring to myself (and others!) that I was taking on this challenge, it helped me set aside the time needed to complete it.
8. Enlist a friend
My husband (who also aimed for 100,000 meters in the Holiday Challenge) and I support one another’s schedules to help make fitness a priority. This isn’t always easy, and we rarely (ever?) get the chance to work out together anymore. If we try to help each other out with scheduling, it can happen. I also try to recruit friends to join me, so I can socialize while working out—which is multitasking at its best!
Every revolution of the flywheel counts. I encourage you to find moments of your day to start moving. Once you start moving, it helps motivate you to find a little bit more time for exercise each day.