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Finding time for fitness: A busy New Yorker’s game plan for getting to the gym

“I don’t have time” is the most commonly cited reason for why people don’t work out regularly. Especially in New York, where jobs demand longer hours and the city’s after-work social life is more tempting than a Body Pump class.

Julie Morgenstern, a time management guru with a passion for Pilates and Alvin Ailey dance classes, says that everyone has time to sweat. It’s just a matter of figuring out where you’re wasting time and scheduling workouts at appropriate times.

Time management and productivity guru Julie Morgenstern

Most of us kill so much time on e-mail each day, we’d easily recoup two hours for a workout, says Morgenstern, who’s the author of five books including Never Check E-mail in the Morning. Constant, obsessive e-mail and internet-checking has become an epidemic that sucks productivity and time, according to Morgenstern.

Her solution? “Check and fully process e-mail every couple of hours, instead of constantly throughout the day. You’ll regain two hours in your day,” promises Morgenstern who’s worked with assistants to CEOs and has found this two-hour rule to be the case across the board.

Bottom line: “Checking e-mails constantly destroys real productivity.” And eats up your workout time.

Scheduling your workouts when you’ll actually do them is the other half of the equation. And no, says Morgenstern, you don’t have to get up at 5:30 a.m. Here are five tips for getting your workout done.

1. Respect your natural energy cycle. “Pick the right time of day,” suggests Morgenstern. “People often make the mistake of thinking I’m going to get up really early and then they never do. Work with your natural energy cycle! If you can’t get up early in the morning, then try lunchtime or immediately after work.”

2. Take lunch at the gym.“So many people work at companies with gyms, but they don’t use them,” says Morgenstern. If your company has a gym or lunchtime yoga, take full advantage. You’ll return to your desk with renewed focus.

3. Maximize weekend workouts. Three days a week is a good baseline workout schedule, says Morgenstern. “So make sure to work out both weekend days. Then slip in another day during the week. No matter how hard you work, everyone can pick one day a week to sneak out for a 7:00 p.m. workout.”

4. Passionate Pursuits. Do something you love. “Don’t run just because it’s convenient if you don’t love it,” say Morgenstern. “This city is so rich with workout options. Rent a bike and ride up the Hudson River parkway or meet a friend at a dance or spin class.”

5. Workout accountability. Tie your workouts into a class that’s hard to skip. You’re a lot more likely to attend a class that’s on your schedule, like a meeting, and even more likely to go if you’re meeting a friend, “which adds a lot of reinforcement,” says Morgenstern. —Alexia Brue