Get more out of your lunch break by going to the gym.

At some point in our careers, many of us make a vow to visit the gym more often.  It could be a New Year’s resolution, a plan for reducing stress, or just an urge to get into shape.  But for those who have families or other major obligations after work, that plan to make exercise a regular part of the day can often slip through the cracks.  Soon, the gym membership that you signed up for with the best of intentions becomes just another line item on your monthly credit card bill.

Going to the gym at lunchtime can be an ideal solution.  It gets you out of the office, keeps you from eating at your desk, takes place at a time when most people are full of energy, and can often provide a great energy boost, improving focus for the remainder of the workday.  Here are a few tips to get a lunchtime gym schedule going:

  • Aim for consistency, not frequency.  Many new gym members start out by going to the gym as frequently as possible, hoping to supercharge a new lifestyle.  However, working out every day is not only unnecessary for the average non-Olympian, but it can in fact be counterproductive, since it sets up a precedent that most people can’t follow over a long period. It’s much better to pick only a few times a week, typically days with fewer meetings and requirements, and making those dates as consistent as possible.
  • Location is crucial.  Unless your job involves being a member of a royal family, chances are a relaxed two or three hour lunch break is out the question. When considering a gym for lunchtime workouts, keep in mind that most routines and afternoon classes take between 30 and 50 minutes, and that’s without the additional time to get ready, shower, and get dressed.  That’s why it’s so important to find a place that minimizes the amount of time it takes to get to and from the office.
  • Don’t just do one thing.  Boredom is one of the reasons people quit going regularly to the gym.  If every workout is exactly the same, after a fairly short period of time it becomes monotonous, and there’s a major temptation to just stop going.  But most gyms provide a variety of different workout experiences, from cardio equipment, to weight training, to a variety of classes, and generally have staff members around and introductory classes available to get new members on track.
  • Consider going on off-peak hours. Most gyms have their own version of rush hour that occurs after work, and between noon and one o’clock.  Those are the times of day you’ll probably have to wait the longest to get on the equipment, take a shower, or even open your locker. And if you’re in a rush to begin with, that’s extra time that’s going to cut into your workout.  Unless you have an exercise class that begins at exactly 12 o’clock, or it’s the only possible time to make it to the gym, consider going at a less busy time, either after or before noon.
  • The lunch conundrum. What about the most important reason for having a lunch hour – actually eating lunch?  This can be a bit tricky, because in between getting ready, doing the workout, showering, and getting back to work, there may not be a lot of time for actually eating.  This part takes preparation, but by making a sandwich or another easily transportable lunch in advance, it can be pretty easy to have lunch ‘on the go’, either on the way to gym, or back to the office.

Building a workout into your day takes some planning and dedication at the start, but after a short while, it becomes a part of your routine – even something to look forward to on your way to work.  And once you’re on your way home, it’s a great feeling to know that you’ve got your exercise out of the way, and you’re ready to move on to the next part of your day.


Also published on Medium.