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How to sneak in a toning in-office workout—without looking like you did

Photo: Stocksy/Good Vibrations Images
Photo: Stocksy/Good Vibrations Images

When you’re clocking crazy long work hours, it’s impossible to slot in an hour-plus for boot camp or yoga. The good news? In-office workouts can be quick and effective. The bad news? They’re kinda tricky. You want something intense, but that won’t make you sweat (because you haven’t figured out a way to explain that one to your boss yet). Plus, you need to pull it off in a place where your only “fitness tools” are, like, a laptop and some pens.

So I consulted Kirra Michel, a fitness and yoga instructor with TroupeFit—which sends personal trainers wherever—to devise the perfect no-sweat, at-work workout. The on-demand fitness app’s whole model is based around making all spaces workout-friendly (no matter how small or awkward), so she was more than up for the challenge.

Michel came to Well+Good’s New York City headquarters and schooled the team in the importance of making workdays healthier by adding in walking meetings (cardio!) and frequent posture checks. Then she devised an awesome in-office workout that you can do all at once, or sneak into your day in little chunks.

Scroll down for Michel’s no-sweat, muscle-toning workout that is truly office-ready.

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All photos: Katie Maguire for Well+Good

Move #1: Calf raises

This one can be done on any flat surface (or on a step in the stairwell if that gives you a bit more privacy)—and yes, it’s basic, but it’s also a burner. Come up onto your toes, then lower your heels, Michel says. Repeat 20 times. Once you’re done with that, repeat the same basic move, only this time on one leg. Do 10 calf raises per leg, then repeat.



Move #2: Wall sit

Sit against a flat wall with your legs at a 90-degree angle. Extend your arms out in front of you while holding filled water bottles (we happened to use W+G-approved kombucha bottles), or staplers/paper weights/whatever you’ve got as long as the weight in each hand is even. Remember to engage your core and glue your shoulders to the wall. Stay “sitting” while you keep your arms out in front of you for 30 seconds, then move them out to the side for another 30. Repeat.



Move #3: Chair leg hold

Sitting in a chair, squeeze a stack of printer paper or a book between your knees, then raise both of your legs until they’re straight. Complete 10 reps.

Next, hold both of your legs up for 10 seconds, squeezing your knees together to help engage more muscles in your thighs and glutes. Repeat the entire circuit three times. (The move is a serious core burner, so if it’s too intense you can do it without the stack of paper.)



Move #4: V-ups

Sit on the edge of a chair and then lean back, placing a small amount of weight on your hands (you’re gonna want to use a chair with arms for this one). Extend your legs out parallel to the floor (or higher) and then crunch in, bringing your knees to your chest. Complete 15 to 20 reps, then repeat.



Move #5: Flutter and scissor kicks

Staying in your chair, extend your legs straight out in front of you and begin kicking them up and down in opposite directions in slow and controlled movements. (Remember to activate and engage your core without sinking onto your hands or slouching. Also, you want to keep your chest open and your spine long.) Complete two sets of 20 reps.

Then do the same basic move, but this time cross your legs horizontally across one another rather than up and down—scissor style. Again, do two sets of 20 reps.



Move #6: One-leg get-up

Start by sitting on your chair, being sure to lengthen up through your spine. Firmly plant your left foot on the ground and bring your right knee in toward your chest. Keep your hands on your waist as you come to stand, slowly and with control. Sit down with the same slow pace. Do two sets of five get-ups per leg.



Move #7: Tricep dips

Sit on the edge of your chair with your hands shoulder-distance apart and your fingers facing forward. Slowly lower yourself down keeping your back as close to the chair and your elbows straight back, then push yourself up again. (If you have a chair with wheels, make sure it’s up against a wall to avoid an accident.) Do two sets of 15 reps.



Move #8: Arm lifts

Hold your “weights” (i.e. those full water bottles, staplers, or anything else with a bit of heft) out to either side of you with your arms straight. Lift the weights up and down 10 times, keeping your arms straight. Again, remember: control!

Then, with your arms out to the side and elbows bent, slowly lower the weights forward toward the floor and lift them back up again, 10 times.

Lastly, hold your arms straight out to the side until you can’t hold them anymore. Give yourself a minute to rest, then repeat—this time, sans weights.



Move #9: Push-ups

Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a desk or wall. Feel free to play around with the height of your hands, but if you’re using the wall, have them around shoulder height or a little lower. Lower your body down in one solid line, like a moving plank. (It’s important not to sink through the lower back and pelvis; better to not go down as far and keep good form.) Complete 10 reps, rest, and repeat.

And don’t feel discouraged if these are challenging, Michel says. Remember: you’re the badass who is managing to get in a workout at work.

The line between real-world office wear and workout wear is blurring, huzzah! These super-chic fashion pieces were inspired by your favorite activewear trends. Also yes, there’s makeup you can totally sweat in.