Fitting it in

Dammit Karen, How do you, as a personal trainer-slash-fitness instructor, fit your own workouts in?

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

A reality check for a so-called “fitness professional”

“How do you, as a personal trainer-slash-fitness instructor, fit your own workouts in?”

The question came out of the blue from an acquaintance, and it threw me for a loop. I sucked in my stomach and wondered how I could cover up my arms without pulling them, turtle-like, into the top of my sleeveless dress.

The right answer, of course, is that I make time for myself.

That, despite my time-consuming “serious work” of writing and editing, and my one-hour-at-a-time “superhero work” of training clients — which usually involves demonstrating correct form or partnering up for a move or two — and leading boot camps (with more demos and partnering) — and teaching a fitness class (or two) per week, I still have the focus and energy to get to the gym for proper strength-training sessions, and I never miss the time I set aside for my running group. Yes, all this and the kids and the dog too!

And my hair? Beautifully styled, of course!

Now that you’re shielding your eyes from the glare off my halo, let me reassure you: the truth, of course, is different than the right answer.

I do demo moves for clients and participate whenever I can, but I am definitely not getting the same benefits from the workouts as my participants. I sneak in five to ten minutes of strength work before each session as I set up and practice the routines. I stay 15-20 minutes after my clients have left the gym or field and put myself through the same paces.

(In the case of my aqua fitness class, however, I am definitely working harder, since I’m jumping against gravity, while they are being buoyed up.  Also, they’re all at least 60.)

And, when my kids are at swimming lessons, I sprint up the stairs to the leisure centre gym and work harder for 22 minutes than anyone else in the gym does for 60, so that I can be back down to greet them before they even get out of the pool.

My running group is sacred, too. It’s time that I have scheduled into my calendar, three times a week, and I go, and I run 6-10 miles to wherever the group has planned for that day. If I need to, I choose a faster pace group that promises to be back to our neighbourhood even 10 minutes earlier than my usual group (and skip the coffee afterwards), but I do it. 

On days that I really can’t do the run and give the dog enough of a walk, he comes along to Primrose Hill, and gets off-leash, run-like-crazy frolic time while I do hill repeats four to six times. Forty minutes, and we’re both back home, sweaty, tired and ready for a shower or nap, respectively (lucky dog).

Lately, I’ve been adding in extra bursts of activity, especially on days when my kids need motivation. They absolutely abhor the monthly “fitness” days at their kickboxing class, and I’ve made them a deal to make the extra conditioning more mentally acceptable for them: for each pushup and burpee that they have to do, I will do the same number. As there are three of them and only one of me, it’s really not a fair bargain; it adds up quicky, but I do it, and I usually let them watch. Sometimes, when I feel that I haven’t lifted anything in a while, I’ll drop and do a few sets of 25-30 pushups in the afternoon, or after dinner. Without having to think too much, I can do up to 90 pushups, which seems like bragging, but it’s really not (this strength and endurance has been built by 30-plus years of doing pushups…with short-armed biomechanical efficiency).

Also, having been plagued with low-back issues for years (possibly exacerbated by pregnancy, my swayback is not making me look taller), I recently undertook a 21-day “fix” that involved repeating a short, low-intensity routine every evening. I completed it in only 26 days (ha!), and have realized that working my core daily (or almost-daily), even if I’m half-paying-attention-while-watching-tv really does make a difference to my posture, my pain and how I feel about my body.

So, there’s how I do it.  A little piece here, a little piece there.

And no, my hair is not styled. Don’t be ridiculous.

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