4 Ways to Easily Incorporate the Gym into your Work Week

Gym Work Week

I have the mentality and mindset that I want to go to the gym, and break a sweat, and work on my overall health, but the idea of doing that on top of everything else can be seriously intimidating. I’ve tried a few different gyms with a few different routines and just now about 4 years later I am confident in saying that I feel like I have cracked the gym/work/life balance code.

There’s more to it than just finding the right gym or the right shoes, that much I can tell you for sure, regardless of your pitfalls. I’m breaking down my big 4 tips for bringing the gym into your regular routine without taking more time out of your day than you need for your workout.

1. Find the Right Gym

You don’t need to spend a ton to get the right gym membership, there will always be gyms of a higher caliber that have more “stuff” but do you need that stuff? Likely not. This choice will be the foundation for the rest of your gym-going success, so listen up.

Some things to consider in a need vs. want format:

  • Towel service – can you bring your own? You need/want this if you like to swim.
  • Shower amenities – travel containers may be cheap but they’re not always convenient. Think of the extra weight that will add to your bag (shampoo, conditioner, body wash) on top of any hair spray, leave in conditioners, etc. if a gym has towel service that usually includes shower amenities so check those out before committing, you may find that they are a ‘need’ for your convenience.
  • Steam room/sauna/whirlpool – like to cook a little more after your workout? There are definitely times where all I want is to stick my worked out muscles in the hot tub at my gym and let the jets do the massaging…it’s a ‘need’ for me going forward.
  • Pool – like to swim or take water aerobics classes? Might be a need, assess how much you think you’ll use it.
  • Food/juice bar – these typically cost additional money anyways so I don’t recommend making it a need, there’s usually a relatively close stop for your refueling needs (or pack your protein from home).
  • Lockers and locks – Lockers existing in gyms are pretty much standard (in my experience) so that’s probably not a good sign if the gym doesn’t have any! However, do you own a combination lock? Would you prefer to use a card? Or a built-in number lock system? I’ve tried all three and my preference is the built-in number lock: you don’t have to buy and tote a combination lock and you don’t have to figure out how to store your membership card during your workout. The lock situation shouldn’t be a deal breaker, just breaking down what I’ve seen.

Knowing what is a need vs. a want will help you narrow down those overly exotic and too-bare-minimum facilities.

2. Have the Right Equipment

The right tools are the key to almost any daunting task.

“No strainer? Guess I can’t make that pasta..better just order GrubHub..”

Sound familiar? Here are some things in my arsenal that save me on the daily:

  • The right gym bag
    • My new one has a laptop sleeve and that’s HUGE. I bought my old one before my work issued laptops so it wasn’t very convenient if I needed to tote my work computer. Problem = solved. Plus, I made sure this one had plenty of pockets for the necessities.
  • Travel-sized makeup and toiletries that can be kept in your work/gym bag
    • I wasn’t keen on having doubles of makeup but it is an investment that has proved to be absolutely worth my sanity. Not having to move items from the bathroom to my bag and back again day after day, risking missing something, has been a life saver.
      Can’t justify buying duplicates? Me either for some of my makeup. Instead, I packed some Birchbox samples that are just as effective if you’re not super particular. Mascara is almost all the same, if we’re being honest.
  • A water bottle plan
    • I say ‘plan’ because you don’t need a reusable one, but you shouldn’t use a disposable one over and over. I have a glass one that I love and it helps to keep my water colder longer during volleyball and swimming, but sometimes I don’t have time to find it, or it’s dirty, so I grab a Kirkland single-use bottle. You can definitely refill it a few times during your gym trip but be sure to recycle it on your way out, it’s not a good idea to keep refilling those flimsy plastic ones.

3. Meal Planning

Same time and energy goes in to the meal, it’s just split up. This is a real big one. Think about your week’s meals in advance. Sunday night seems to be a popular time that people prep, which makes sense being at the front of your week ahead.

I will actually prep meals all weekend depending on when I am making certain things. An example being my zoodles. If I have the spiralizer out already why wouldn’t I just slice up 2-3 meals-worth of zucchini at once? Then, midweek I pull the container out and am more than halfway to eating already. Same goes for chopping veggies, especially onions (who wants to cut onions 3 times a week..no thanks), I chop up way more than I need, store the diced onion in a smaller container and then toss into meals as the week goes on.

It’s too hard to anticipate what you will want to eat all week in one sitting, so instead just think about “will I need this again soon?” anytime you are cooking. 

“Can I chop these peppers now and store them? Will this leftover breakfast skillet keep for a few days to bring to work on Monday and Tuesday?” Great, put them in individual containers now instead of scrambling in the morning. Get food ready while you’re already prepping or cooking it so you’re not doubling your efforts and energy.

This approach is also advantageous if you are trying to adhere to a specific diet so that you don’t leave room for temptation to eat poorly creep up once the hanger kicks in.

Some quick meal ideas for you here:

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Zucchini and Potatoes, now ready when you are!

4. Schedule Realistically

Have before or after work commitments? Does your schedule change constantly? You’re not alone. In fact, you may be in the majority in this working day and age, don’t worry. Similar to meal planning I recommend mapping out the time slots you’re unable to hit the gym and prioritize the gym for those spots that you can.

  • Coordinate alternating schedules with your roommates/family/partner
    • Sometimes you can’t take a gym trip with bae (story of my life) because someone has to be home to feed and take care of the pooch (or children). Don’t be intimidated! You will only be more empowered by getting there, working up a sweat, and getting back solo.
  • Have a really big day on Thursdays? Don’t make that your morning gym day.
    • Either pack accordingly or switch your AM gym day. This happens to me a lot and I try to save hard morning workouts or swimming for days where I won’t be client-facing so if I use a Pinterest-inspired wet bun afterwards it isn’t a big deal. Also, dry shampoo for the gym-to-work hair woes.
  • Happy hour after work and wondering what to do with your big gym bag?
    • If you don’t mind leaving your bag overnight (or over the weekend) you can still break a morning sweat, just leave your bag in your desk/locker/drawer, etc. Just be aware of and plan for how long that will leave you without certain items if you won’t be in office the next morning.
  • Be careful about committing to classes with no-show repercussions
    • If your schedule is very shifty I don’t recommend signup in advance type classes, especially if there is a fine or consequence for not being able to show last-minute. Some gyms will charge your card on file or at the very least, it looks bad on your part and if you’re a member you’re going to have to face that when you return next.

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Have any more tips for making the gym work for you? Share them with #foodwinediy on social media or in the comments for all to enjoy!

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