13 Dec Fitting it all in…
Fitting it all in…
On any given day I have at least 25 more tasks to do than I have time to do them in. Some are more urgent than others, but that’s not the point. As a self-confessed control freak, I’m not really ever satisfied until my inbox is clear and I’m ‘on top’ of everything (whatever that means). The result? That I feel to some degree or other that I’ve failed. It’s so easy to focus on what you haven’t done, rather than what you HAVE done.
I run my own barre business, I have a team of 15, a client base of thousands, we deliver classes 7 days a week, offer training programmes, run industry events and workshops. If I’m not designing marketing activity, teaching classes, processing invoices or hosting training workshops, I’m responding to emails, phone calls or developing strategy for our next big project. I have a home to run, two dogs to exercise daily and I’m increasingly spending more time preparing for talks or writing features for press (which I love!). And that’s not even accounting for the hours I can lose on social media surfing, content creation and reading special interest books, studies and articles.
Recently I’ve been going through a divorce. Which is pretty much a full-time job in itself.
So how do I find time to exercise every day?
I changed my career over 15 years ago, precisely because I was allowing my health to take a back seat. I was overweight and run down. I had no perspective and did little other than work (for other people). I’ve seen first-hand what that can do to you and I know that I would rather impose some pretty extreme self-discipline if it means I don’t go back to that lifestyle.
So, if any of this sounds familiar, let me share some of my best strategies for coping with what I would call ’the greatest daily struggle of all’…finding the time to work out.
Granted, I run an exercise business. Part of my job is to coach classes and that means I get a workout into the bargain. Plenty of people would say that’s enough. Or that ‘I’m lucky’. But it’s actually not enough – my fitness has to be elevated beyond the norm to ensure I have the stamina and resilience to teach back to back classes day after day. And I never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. My body is my tool, so I also have to keep my immune system healthy, recovery rapid and my body robust enough to avoid injury. And as for being ‘lucky’? I can’t tell you how often I fantasise about sitting in an office chair when the DOMS is so brutal I can barely get to the shops for a carton of almond milk.
So, now that we’ve established that finding the time (and motivation) to exercise is the same for me as it is for you, we can begin with the life hacks I have come to rely on when I’m at my least inclined, most stressed or have the energy stores of a gnat.
* Statistics first: 50 minutes is 3.472% of your day. Get to it.
* Exercise just puts things into perspective. Even as I write this column, I’m wondering whether I should ditch my scheduled workout and stay home to finish it. I’ll feel better when it’s done and I’m not stressing about it. But I know I’ll feel good when I’ve trained. Sometimes you just have to ditch everything and go. It will all be there when you get back – and you’ll have a better mindset for completing it. So I went. And do you know what? During my training session, I realised that while I needed to get the article written (spoiler alert, I did), it wasn’t the most important thing of all. Your health is ALWAYS the priority.
* Exercise gives you energy back. ALWAYS. That saying ‘no-one ever regretted a workout’ is true! When I first started to train for marathons and had times when I’d struggle to get my trainers on and leave the hours, I use to give myself a 5 minute rule. That if I really, REALLY felt awful and wanted to go home, after 5 minutes, I could. And I never did. Not once.
* Keep it simple, and REALLY convenient. The second you have to factor in complicated kit, or a long journey before you even begin your workout, you’re doomed.
* Schedule your work around your exercise, not your exercise around your work. I start every week with a clear plan of when my training sessions are going to be. I arrange meetings and other work commitments around that. If there is a conflict, 9 times out of 10, the exercise ‘appointment’ wins. Same goes for nights out. I make plenty of compromises to ensure I can train well and perform at my best. It’s all down to how much you want it. If your friends are really your friends, they will forgive you if you don’t make a pub outing or a dinner party.
* Get other people involved. If you have someone else to be accountable to, you are far more likely to meet your exercise commitments. Go one step further and get involved in fitness communities. Start to look forward to seeing your ’Tribe’ more than you’re even thinking about the workout. Then it becomes a social outing too.
* Book in too late to cancel. This is a sneaky one, but you can set yourself up for success (even if you really want to have a lie in) by booking that 7am class last thing the night before. Most studios/gyms have a 12 hour cancellation policy, so you lose TWICE if you bail. You lose the cost of the workout AND the workout itself. A big incentive, especially if you’re on a budget…!
When I first emerged from the final interrogation phase in SAS Who Dares Wins and we were taken back to the hotel, we were handed back our phones even before we took a shower. Of course the first thing I did was unlock it and check my messages. I had hundreds of what app messages from friends wondering how I was getting on, chattering away to each other various groups I’m part of. What a joy to read through them all.
But I also had 3,500 emails in my personal and business inboxes. After 11 days of no access to any device or communication from the outside world I was overwhelmed. Not with joy, but dread. Suddenly feeling my stress levels rising – on top of the high adrenaline state I had existed in at the mercy of the fearsome directing staff. But I also had some perspective, I knew that I had managed 11 days without filtering though messages, responding to some, deleting others, filing the rest. And the world had not collapsed. So I just bulk deleted them all. I suddenly had a moment of clarity that if there was something urgent, I’d get a phone call, or a letter, or a further email later on.
It was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done!
And guess what? There was absolutely no come back.
Everything can wait. Make YOU your most important priority, you won’t regret it.