When it comes to exercise routines, I advocate planning ahead of time as much as possible. Whether you are writing out your workouts before you walk into the gym or signing up for group classes on Sunday night, taking charge and planning your week with workouts in mind leads to a more successful week overall.
But what happens when life happens? What if that traffic jam on PCH is going to make you miss you evening yoga class, or what if it’s raining when you had planned your weekly run, or your mom stops by just as you were about to turn on that fitness DVD…what then?!
As a personal trainer, I have heard every single excuse in the book, but clients who get the best results are the ones who refuse to make excuses. Life took an unexpected turn, so what? We try so hard to have complete control over our daily lives, but flexibility is equally as important as structure when it comes to fitness. Being able to roll with the unforeseen injuries, mini emergencies, and forgotten social engagements is what separates the good from the great. So here are a few of my tips on persevering and getting that workout in, even on the most out-of-control days.
- Modify your workout: If you planned an outdoor run and the weather took a turn for the worse, take it to the treadmill. If you don’t have the option of a treadmill, pick up a jump rope and get your cardio in with intervals of intense jump rope. Or maybe your knee started hurting last night. Don’t throw in the towel. Instead, do an upper body workout! So you forgot your tennis shoes or your sports bra, there are so many things you can do without shoes and without the support of your trusty bra, just improvise. Obviously no high-impact jumping around without shoes or a bra, but you can do strength training all day, or core work.
- Shorten your workout: If you planned a 45 minute gym session but that work meeting ran late and you have dinner reservations, be realistic with the time you have and dedicate yourself for a solid 15 minutes, then call it a night. Sometimes my best workouts were 12-30 minutes long, not 60-75 minutes. Focus, don’t take breaks and you’ll get as much out of this small time as you would have if you had more time.
- Entertaining guests? Invite them to workout with you: Entertaining guests is one of the most common excuses I hear from my clients. Invite them to go workout with you, plan a group hike or kayak excursion. Go for a swim or play a game of tennis, it doesn’t have to be a structured workout in the gym, so long as you are getting exercise you are keeping up your momentum. If your guest does not want to be active or is unable to be active with you, try waking up a little earlier in the morning so you can get in your workout without sacrificing any time together.
- If you have children, make playgrounds your new gym: This might be the most legitimate excuse. I honestly don’t know how some women manage as much as they do, but let me share some secrets from some of the most fit moms I know. One idea is to take your workout to the playground. Use the benches as your “step” and bring a set of dumbbells. Run the stairs or do sprints on park grass. Another idea is to include the children in your workout. I’ve taught clients with newborns, four-year-olds, seven-year-olds and teenagers. Every single time we workout together the energy and the laughter is contagious. Another idea is just to do something active together — walk the dogs an extra mile, take a stroll on the beach, play “sandy seal” or break out the boogie boards. Believe it or not, one of the best workouts I did recently was Wii Dance and Twister. High-energy games are calorie-torchers!
- Swap your workout time to one that works: Many people are either morning people or night people, but all too often I know of people making false promises to either wake up early and go to the gym or get in a run after work. Do not make promises you can’t keep. If you know you are horrible in the morning, don’t keep trying for the morning, and if you know you are useless after work or the commute is impossible to plan around, then stop trying to plan on it! Go in the path of least resistance. If you are never going to wake up early, force yourself to workout after work no matter what. Also if you are a morning person who missed their morning workout, don’t let it ruin your day, be flexible and do an evening session. It’s OK to change things up, it might even be good for you.
Elizabeth Simonton is a longtime Malibu resident and certified personal trainer. To learn more, visit malibuhealthandfitness.com.