There’s nothing better than waking up on a beautiful Sunday morning and going for a leisurely bike ride or long run.
Unfortunately, come Monday, the thought of finding time to exercise can be overwhelming. Between morning meetings, business lunches, and post-work happy hours, it can be hard to find time to breathe, much less get to the gym.
But making time to exercise during the week is important! Just 20 minutes of low- to-moderate exercise three times a week is all it takes to feel less fatigued and more energetic. You may also feel less stressed and sleep better if you workout throughout the week.
Here’s how to make it happen:
1. Schedule, schedule, schedule.
We all know the workweek can get busy. That’s why it’s crucial to schedule workouts in advance. Once you get something on the calendar, you’ll find you’re less likely to back out of it.
Every Sunday, think about your exercise goals and what you’re looking to accomplish in the week ahead. Most gyms and fitness studios have a list of their monthly classes online so you can see what’s available each week.
If you want to make it to two yoga classes during the week, work around your busy schedule and make it happen. Sign up online as soon as possible. The late cancel fee may make you think twice before backing out in lieu of post-work cocktails. Plus, by signing up early, you won’t get shut out of busy classes or face the dreaded wait list.
2. Organize your gear.
Now that you have your workouts scheduled for the week, it’s time to get your gear together. If you already do laundry on the weekend, this step should be easy. The goal? Set aside every single thing you’ll need. If you’re going the gym on Monday and Wednesday, you’ll probably need two sports bras, two tops, and two pairs of shorts (or pants). Set out two pairs of socks and your sneakers.
If you plan to shower at the gym post workout, don’t forget flip-flops, dry shampoo, towel, and other travel-size toiletries. Place everything in your gym bag and keep it in your car, gym locker, or under your desk at work.
Heading to yoga class Thursday or spin Friday? Don’t forget to set out your mat or cycling shoes so you aren’t searching for them at the last minute.
After killing it at your workout, you won’t want mix your dirty clothes back in with your clean ones, so invest in a laundry bag, too. A pro tip: Pack granola or protein bars in case you get hungry after work or on your way home from the gym.
3. Know thyself.
If you hate getting out of bed in the morning and can barely make it to the office on time, you probably aren’t going to be too jazzed about an early morning workout. Likewise, if you can’t imagine your week without a post-work happy hour, you aren’t going to be thrilled that you signed up for that 5:30 p.m. SoulCycle class. Make your exercise plan work for you!
If your work schedule is more flexible, try to fit in lunchtime workouts. It leaves you with more free time before and after work.
4. Keep things interesting!
If you’re going to the gym to do the exact same exercise routine several times a week or going to the same workout classes all the time, it might be time to change things up. It’s fine to get into a routine—it will keep you on schedule to meet workout goals. But it’s exciting to start the week knowing you’re going to try a new type of workout you’ve never done before.
Apps like ClassPass make it easy to try out new studios and gyms every month or switch it up with online workouts you can do at home.
5. Gather your squad.
Having workout buddies is the best! It not only keeps you accountable for showing up, but it’s much more fun to have someone to commiserate with and talk to as you exercise. If you prefer to be more social, look for running clubs or fitness Meetup groups near you. You can even join an adult sports rec league and play soccer, hockey, or broomball after work.
Ask around and see if anyone at your workplace wants to try out a new Pilates studio after work or if someone wants to start walking or running at lunch. We have a Slack channel at my office for this purpose. As I like to say, “Coworkers who sweat together, stay together!”
Do your workout during the week? What tips do you have for making it fit your busy schedule?
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This post was originally published on June 20, 2016.