How Busy Women Make Their Workouts Happen

There’s an art to squeezing workouts into a jam-packed calendar. Here’s how fitness regulars pull it off.
Whether you’re obsessed with CrossFit WODs, cardio dance, or spinning classes (or anything else)—you’ve got to leave your desk, laptop, and piles of work and responsibilities to get to your workouts. And not all of us have that muscle.

It turns out that virtually no one, except maybe professional athletes, feels like they ever have enough time to work out. Even those who manage to get their sweat on four or five times a week say it's a struggle. So what do these workout superheros know that we don't?

We asked a handful women juggling demanding jobs and other life responsibilities how they manage to make their workouts so often while you’re still at work. (Sorry!)

Here are their insightful tricks and tips for getting to the gym, despite an incessantly chiming iCalendar.

Originally posted February 28, 2014, updated May 9, 2016.

Photo: Instagram/@molliechen

1. Find a morning fitness crew.

Mollie Chen, Co-founder and VP, Brand Experience of Birchbox, New York City

I love working out in the morning—both because it clears my mind and because if I don't do it in the morning it doesn't happen. (I'm too easily waylaid by the prospect of my couch or a glass of wine.) I go to classes at the Brooklyn Heights Equinox, where there’s an amazing early morning crew. We motivate each other to get through rounds of burpees or seemingly endless pushups.

Photo: Sheeva Talebian

2. Keep workout clothes at the office.

Sheeva Talebian, MD, Reproductive endocrinology and fertility specialist at RMA Mount Sinai, New York City

I have to be at work 7 a.m., so most days I’m at the gym or a spin class at 5:30 a.m. But for the days when I hit the snooze button, I keep a pair of sneakers and workout clothes under my desk. I’ll run home and do a few pushups in the park. I’m a better mother, wife, friend, and doctor when I have my 45 minutes to myself to sweat and just be in my own head.

Photo: Instagram/@jenrunsworld

3. Do business during your workouts (AKA sweat-work).

Jen Murphy, writer and editor, Boulder, CO

Eating and drinking tend to dominate social activities, plus I used to work at Food & Wine magazine and probably went out for cocktails and indulgent dinners five nights a week. You quickly learn that’s not sustainable—and it cuts back on when you can get in workouts. So now I always ask writers, friends, and PR people if they want to meet for a spin class or yoga class and grab a drink or a bite after.

Photo: Vanessa Packer/Libby Gray

4. Find a fitness love affair.

Jamie Graber, founder of raw, gluten-free eatery Gingersnap’s Organics, New York City

Don’t go spinning just because your friends are obsessed with it; pick an exercise that you’ll fall hard for (which might very well be spinning!). When I’m busy and feel like I have no time, it’s so much sweeter because it’s something I really love. It is then in that room that I get to go inward and turn off all the distractions.... No texts, no calls, no emails. It’s my appointment to shut off from other people’s needs and just choose mine.

Photo: Alice Marshall

5. Maximize the weekend.

Alice Marshall, founder of luxury travel firm Alice Marshall Public Relations, New York City

Geography is key to making a yoga class, although I try to follow my favorite teachers, too. I’m fortunate to have two yoga studios close by—Yoga Works near my office and Exhale near my apartment. I start by being religious about going on the weekend, and then I try to map out when I can go during the work week—before work, after work, or worst case at lunch. Somehow it ends up that I go about three times a week—and sometimes more.

Photo: Juice Beauty

6. Marry your fitness buddy.

Karen Behnke, founder of Juice Beauty, Marin County, California

I am not naturally an early riser, but to make my workouts happen and get triathlon training in through my adult life, my husband and I get up at 5:45 a.m. and we're out the door by 6 together for a run or to swim laps. We're lucky‚ we can swim year-round in California! We’re finished by 7 a.m. when we our start our day. Weekends we get in our long bike rides.

Photo: Instagram/@jodiepatterson

7. Do short, really hard workouts.

Jodie Patterson, beauty-entrepreneur and founder of DooBop and Georgia

Like most women, I am way too busy for my own good. As a mom of five and involved in multiple beauty companies—DooBop, Georgia, my teen daughter just launched her own—I get very little sleep, often just three hours! So I try to do simple workouts that have a strong impact and don’t take much time. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I get on my treadmill and blast Kanye and Jay Z to get me through 15 minutes of uphill sprints. In the spring and summer I do the same on the streets of Brooklyn. Sprint a block, then run a block. Repeat.

Inspired to sweat it out? This full-body workout only takes five minutes. If you want to try the whole marry-your-fitness-buddy thing, this dating app is all for workout fanatics. And if you can't figure out how to make a.m. workouts happen, here's the secret.


Loading More Posts...