“What’s your exercise schedule for the week?” This is a question I am used to fielding from friends over the past few years, usually on a Sunday. The ritual of planning my sweat for the next 7 days gives me comfort and structure as I’m ending my weekend and gearing up for the week ahead. The reality is, without a plan, especially if you have a lot of other things going in your life: a job, family, social obligations, etc, it becomes nearly impossible to fit in your sweat.
These days, with the fitness craze becoming ever more manic by the day, if you have a favorite class, studio, or instructor, you better believe you have to book your classes ahead of time, and usually a week to the day is de rigueur. During the busy months of fall and winter, it’s not uncommon for me to know exactly what treadmill I’m running on and at what time on a Tuesday a week from now, but not be able to tell you what my plan is for anything else in my life.
What happens if you're just not a planner? Or if you just can’t commit? Or if you say group fitness is just not for you and so therefore, you’ll just find the time to go to the gym on your own? My advice to you: schedule it in anyway. Even if you don’t assign yourself to a specific class, you must schedule the hour, or it doesn’t get done. I don’t care if you have to just run in the park, hop on the treadmill in your building, or do a body weight series of exercises in your home, you need to carve out the time to get some type of workout in. Or it won’t happen. Period. This past week, as scheduled as I am in my fitness life, the popular quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” seemed to apply specifically to me. Both of my twins got sick, forcing me to cancel a much anticipated workout with one of my favorite trainers, as well as a brand new workout I had been really looking forward to trying, along with my regular classes. I had 5 straight days of disappointing cancelations.
Instead of just “skipping” those days however, I found a way to get my sweat on creatively. Luckily I have a whole bag of tricks for when I need to do my workouts at home. And I have done enough classes to know some great exercises I can do on my own. One day, I was lucky enough to get a babysitter for a couple of hours, and I created an outdoor bootcamp for myself in Central Park - interval runs, sprints, and running stairs, combined with pushups, squats, tricep dips on benches, and other fun moves. Another day, I had coverage for a doctor’s appointment in midtown for two hours. I jogged to the appointment so I wasn't disgustingly sweaty (only mildly so), and ran and sprinted on the way home. I was able to still to have a more than satisfying week of fitness, even though it definitely didn’t go as I had planned.
Planning out your workouts is mandatory if you are serious about getting in shape. The act of scheduling enforces a discipline and sends a message to yourself that this is something important to you which needs to get done. Even if you can’t make it happen in exactly the way you plan for it - you have an hour carved out to sweat that day, and you need to make it happen. Ideally, you have a workout buddy, or are lucky enough to have the luxury of a personal trainer every so often to hold you accountable, and keep you on track. Whatever it is that you can manage to do for yourself, that helps you stick to this hour of fitness a day, 5 days a week, you need to do it. If you can’t make an hour happen, do 30 minutes. Do 15, if you’re truly desperate. But plan for the hour, and if it gets whittled down by circumstances, so be it. Ideally, plan to make sweating a part of every single day, and you will find that eventually you find time to fit in your fitness even when it “seems impossible”.