Time is precious.
We want to keep fit, be healthy, and stick with our fitness goals.
We also don’t want to muck around and not have time for anything else.
These are my top three smart tips when writing workouts for people who want to optimize their time, keep fit, and balance their busy life (aka everybody I have ever trained).
1. Make every moment count: Use mobility work as rest intervals
When my clients are in a hurry, they tend to start cutting things short on their own. That means cutting the warm-up, cool-down, and rest periods.
While understandable, this is not a great strategy. Warmups are important, rests are a major part of a strength workout… yadda yadda, you know the speech. I gave that speech a lot in my younger coaching days.
The thing is, everyone KNOWS they are important. And, you still don’t feel like you have time to do it all. So something has to give.
Here’s how I solve the problem: Put the mobility work, bonus warm-up exercises, and focus work in the rest periods.
“Rest” doesn’t mean you have to do the “stop and watch the clock” thing that makes you feel like your life is draining away. You still get your rests, because the mobility work doesn’t use the big muscles that are resting.
It also lets the warmup and cooldown stay short since a portion of those exercises are now spread throughout the workout. What can I say? I am downright sneaky in all the best ways.
2. Let go of the 1 hour workout
We’ve all gotten really attached to 1 hour time slots because classes at gyms and training sessions are all built around the concept of an hourly rate.
It’s an arbitrary unit of time that has little or no bearing on what is optimal. Sometimes an hour-long workout is great. Sometimes it’s kinda short. Often, it’s a barrier to doing a workout because “I don’t have an hour!”
That’s fine, because you don’t need an hour. The vast majority of workouts that I write these days are just 30-40 minutes long, because that’s what most of my clients can and will do consistently.
The best workout will always be the one that you can and will do.
If you want to do a 60 min workout and that works with your life, great. Go for it!
However, if it does NOT work with your life, please don’t trap yourself in that format.
3. Movement is Key: Make Everyday Tasks Count
Scheduled workouts are great, but they aren’t the only component of fitness. Daily movement as you do ordinary life things is also a huge part of maintaining a baseline of fitness.
As a busy human, adding more scheduled workouts into your life may not be realistic. However, there are infinite small ways to add movement to your everyday life that won’t strain your available time.
Instead of adding to your schedule, think of it as optimizing the things you were already going to do.
The basic premise is: what movement do you already do? How can you do a little bit more of that?
A very short list of things my clients have done to stay fit:
- Playing at the playground/pool/etc with the kids; you’re there already, so you might as well move with them. It’s quality time that your favorite tiny humans will love. Plus, you get to exercise both your body and the creative/play part of your brain!
- Choosing to take a longer route when walking etc., by parking further away, walking the dog a half block further, taking the stairs more often, having a dance party while cleaning or cooking.
- Doing tasks in more varied positions: standing, sitting in seats of different heights and styles (and even on the floor), to keep mobility and flexibility scattered throughout the day
Each week I challenge my workout group with "sneaky strength" ideas to help them get in the habit of looking for opportunities to build strength, balance, and mobility. It's a fun way to keep fit without taking extra time out of their day
Wherever you are in your healthy movement journey, these 3 smart tips can help you increase the amount of movement you do without wasting one drop of your precious time.
As with all fitness advice, take the pieces that resonate with you and leave the rest. There’s no time to waste fretting over what doesn’t work for you. You’re a busy person, after all!
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Health Ninja Jeanette Marcotte is a health coach and professional geologist, who is obsessed with helping fellow professional women reclaim their time and energy by weaving healthy choices into their daily lives.
When she is not coaching or looking at rocks, you can find her hanging out in her garden with her dog, collecting new hobbies, and/or reading far too many books at once.
Find other articles written by Jeanette on her coach profile. Hang around for mindset strategies and micro-habits that will transform your health & confidence so that you feel like a Health Ninja, too!