When you’re seriously committed to your workout regimen, you may find that a number of things in life fall by the wayside. Maybe you always pass on having drinks with friends after work, or you’re a consistent no-show on pizza-and-movie-night with the neighbors. Maybe you’re too tired when you get home from work and the gym to spend quality time with your kids. While your workouts are important, it is crucial to maintain relationships outside the gym and avoid neglecting other activities and people that make you happy. To help keep things in balance (without losing that awesome physique that you’ve worked so hard for) we’ve outlined five tips to help you toe the line between your home life and fit life.
Call in the Cavalry
As strong fitness enthusiasts, we have a tendency to believe that we can handle it all, but the truth is that no one can do everything on her own. We all need a support team to lend a hand when things start to get a little bumpy and to help us keep our sanity. “Building up a support system, both at the gym and at home, will allow you to be fully present wherever you are,” says John Rowley, certified personal trainer and best-selling author of The Power of Positive Fitness. “If your family doesn’t go to the gym with you, you can still go knowing they are supporting you.”
And to ensure that you’re enjoying your gym time without any pangs of guilt, you can reach out to that support team to lend a hand from time to time. Call on your partner to pick the kids up from soccer practice if you’re stuck in traffic or ask a friend to watch the kids for the afternoon while you enjoy an outdoor boot camp class in the park. You can even rely on your local neighborhood restaurant to deliver dinner from time to time to give yourself a much-needed break from the kitchen. “We all need help and encouragement, which is why having a support system is so important,” continues Rowley. “Community is key.”
There’s a reason why that whole early-to-bed-early-to-rise thing has never gone out of style. Getting your workout completed first thing in the morning not only gets it out of the way, but it also frees up the rest of your day. “I used to try to do my workouts after work, but found that it left me with little free time,” says Leah Ward, WBFF Pro bikini fitness model and Team Max athlete. Ward rises at 4:30 a.m. to get to the gym by 5 a.m. to start her two-hour weekday workout. This gives her plenty of time to get showered, changed and into the office on time. And once the workday is over she has time to squeeze in a little more exercise and “have the rest of the evening to have dinner, answer client emails/questions and just relax and enjoy my leisure time.” Having your evenings free also allows you to spend time with friends, family, or your significant other, which can help you maintain these healthy relationships.
Life’s little problems and situations can strike at a moment’s notice…or with no notice at all. And when those times come around, it’s crucial to have a flexible attitude. “One of the most important components to time management is the ability to be flexible,” says Dr. Charles J. Pelitera, owner of Pelitera’s Fitness Consultants and assistant professor of kinesiology at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. “Murphy’s Law is a part of most people’s lives at one time or another.”
Pelitera recommends that when life gets in the way of your workout to try to reschedule your session for another time slot instead of completely canceling. However, when things really get hairy there’s no shame in having to step away from the gym for a little while. “Missing a workout due to unforeseen circumstances is not going to destroy the [healthy lifestyle] path that the person has chosen,” continues Pelitera.
For those who have the space, maintaining a gym life/home life balance can be as easy as bringing the gym into your home. “I have my own gym in the basement and it’s awesome!” says personal trainer and group fitness instructor Deazie Gibson. “[Your gym] could be in a basement, garage, or any room where you are able to go into your own world, let loose, and sweat!” And don’t get discouraged at the idea of having to invest thousands of dollars in state-of-the-art gym equipment. Gibson says all you need to get in gear for a great strength, cardio, and flexibility workout are some resistance bands (easy, medium, hard), dumbbells, a jump rope, and an exercise mat. And if you want to step it up, you can scour the Internet for great deals on gently used treadmills, exercise bikes, or a rowing machine.
Gibson also sees an in-home gym as an “investment in your mental and physical health.” It can eliminate a lot of elements that can stress you out and throw you off balance, like pricey gym memberships and time sitting in traffic driving to and from the gym. Plus, there’s no waiting in line to use workout equipment (a real time waster) and you can rest easy knowing that the yoga mats, dumbbells, and showers are clean! Home-based exercise is also a great way to get more connected to your family. If your kids see you bending and stretching on your yoga mat, they’ll want to join in the fun.
Give Yourself a Break
When you’re trying to balance a dozen balls in the air, the math would indicate that at some point, some of them are going to fall. And when they do, it’s best to forgive yourself and move on to the next challenge. Remember that it’s just life. It’s not perfect, but it’s an awful lot of fun.
By Dana Robinson