Lesson #122: How to Work Out In the Middle of the Work Day
Posted Jan 30 2012 10:22am
Last fall, I started taking on a lot more responsibilities and had to face the reality that fitting in everything I wanted to do was going to be a challenge. One way that I’ve made it a little bit easier is working out midday as often as possible. It took a bit of trial and error to make a lunch workout work for me, but now that I have a routine down, I’m loving it. Here are some tips if you’re considering it.
Choosing the Right Workout
When it comes to where you work out and what type of workout you can do, it’s important to be flexible. Before you write off the possibility of doing a midday workout, consider that there are a lot of ways you might be able to pull this off. First, consider multiple locations. I live close to work, so I can run home and work out there if I’m so inclined. Leah used to go to an empty office in her building and would simply shut the door and do a DVD on her laptop. You can also go to a park or nice area near your office to walk or strength train. And if you’re still trying to find a gym or a yoga studio, look at options around your office. I’ve learned that it’s way more convenient for a gym/workout studio to be close to work than close to home, no matter what time of day I go. Eric and I both have joined workout studios closer to our offices than home and are having a lot more succes this way.
You’ll also need to keep an open mind when it comes to working out at lunch. I used to think I couldn’t ever pull this off because my idea of working out involved running crazy intervals for 60 minutes or kicking my own ass in spin class. Yeah, those aren’t really good lunch workouts. So what is a good lunch workout? I like walking, strength training, Core Fusion , pilates, or yoga. These workouts leave you less sweaty than other workouts, can be done in 30-45 minutes, and the last three come with a bonus — you don’t have to worry about packing shoes, socks, or a sports bra!
If you aren’t doing any of those types of workouts, then this is a good time to start. (I mean, why aren’t you strength training? You should definitely be doing some kind of strength training .) I used to think these types of workouts didn’t “count,” so I didn’t want to bother. But doing a workout that is less intense than your favorite spin class twice a week is better than not making it to your favorite spin class because you got stuck working late or wanted to go to happy hour instead. And furthermore, getting yourself to commit to workouts like these because they are the only workouts that work with your schedule is a great way to see that, Oh, yeah — they totally count.
Planning Your Day Around Your Workout
A lunch workout isn’t a huge hassle, but it definitely takes some pre-planning.
First, I pack a lunch to eat at my desk and try to pick a lunch that doesn’t involve a ton of prep work. I realized that any lunch that requires me to go back to the microwave to stir it four times isn’t a good lunch for days I’m working out. If I waste too much time running between my desk, the fridge, and the microwave, I don’t feel like I’m really working through lunch.
Second, I wear as much of my workout gear as I can to work which has been super helpful. I have a short drive to my yoga studio, so the less time I spend changing, the better. My go-to outfit on workout days is ankle-length black workout leggings, a long black workout tank top, some sort of work-appropriate outer layer (like an oversized button-down or long cardigan or wrap), and riding boots. Depending on your office’s dress code, you may only be able to wear your workout leggings under your dress, but that’s a good start. Sometimes I throw a scarf on over everything too; I’ve found that the more layers I have going on, the less likely anyone is to notice that I’m wearing workout clothes at the core. (I actually do this even when I work out in the evening, just because it saves a step after work, and also because I can’t afford nice workout clothes and nice work clothes, so it’s easier to buy items that work for both. (I actually do this even when I work out in the evening, just because it saves a step after work. Also, I can’t afford nice workout clothes and nice work clothes, so it makes sense to me to buy items that work for both.)
Dealing with the Sweat Factor
I know it can seem gross to come back to your desk right after working out, and it is a little…but it’s not unbearable.
The biggest concern for a lot of women is their hair, and, well, I get that. The best thing I’ve found is to just keep my hair down as much as possible during my workout. I know you don’t think you can work out with your hair down, but at least give it a try. If you’re doing a more low-key workout, it shouldn’t be too bad. If I must put my hair up (like during inversions when it starts to fall in my face), I just twist it up loosely with a scrunchie and then take it out as soon as that part of class ends. That way it doesn’t get bends or bumps in it. (And yes, this means I keep a scrunchie on my wrist at all times and then feel super cool if I pretend that it’s 1994.) Your roots might get a little sweaty, but they will dry. Again, figuring out what will work for your hair takes a little trial and error; some people find sweat bands help a lot while others will want to quickly blow dry their bangs.
In terms of cleaning up after my workout, I keep baby wipes and deodorant in my desk. I always pack a second pair of underwear to change into after class, and often bring a second pair of leggings if there’s a chance I’m going to get really sweaty.
I used to spend more time cleaning up when I got back to the office, touching up my makeup and trying to fix my hair, but I’m kinda over it at this point. I’ve become OK with just being slightly damp and I’ve realized that if I spend the second half of my day with less-than-perfect hair, it’s fine. As long as I don’t have mascara running down my face, I’m not that concerned. And usually I find that working out midday gives me a healthy, natural glow and sweat can give me the same beachy hair as saltwater spray.
I usually do two lunch workouts a week and this has made it much easier for me to meet my four-workouts-a-week fitness goal. While going out and grabbing lunch or gossiping with co-workers in the break room can be a nice break in the day, I find that going and getting my blood flowing is so much better for my body and mind.
Any other lunchtime exercisers out there? Please share your tips!