Life Advice

How to balance your fitness goals with a hefty work schedule

The experts at Soho Fitness Lab give us their five point plan for fitting the gym around your busy work schedule

Fitting a dedicated gym routine around your many work commitments isn’t easy. Early morning breakfast meetings and late nights in the office mean some weeks it feels nigh on impossible to stick to your good fitness intentions.

But that’s certainly no excuse to drop the proverbial medicine ball. The key to balancing an effective fitness regime with a hefty work schedule is all in your approach to it. The experts at personal training gym Soho Fitness Lab in Central London have pulled together a five point plan for balancing your work and fitness in a way that’s accessible, easy to master and – most importantly – will help you get the most out of the limited time you have. Here are their five top tips.

1. Scheduling is key

In the words of Soho Fitness Lab’s Georgia Donati Clarke: ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail.’ Put simply, fitting your gym around your work commitments is all about planning ahead. Clarke, a personal trainer, advises you ‘take five minutes on a Sunday to look at the week ahead and plan your workouts. Just like work meetings, make sure you schedule these in as well. Treat them like doctor’s appointments: you can’t miss them!’ Think about when’s best for you to workout, and then get it in diary – so there can be no excuses.

2. Be realistic

According to Clarke, the only way you’re going to maintain that work-fitness balance is by ‘thinking realistically about what time of day is best for you to step away from work. Maybe this is before work, or during your lunch break, or a break in the afternoon, because it’s quieter in the office.’ And this could well change day-to-day – as well as planning ahead, the important thing is to be flexible, too.

3. Plan your workouts

The most effective way to get the most out of your workouts in the limited time you have is to plan what you’ll be doing before you start. ‘The ideal mix for most people is three resistance (or weights-based) workouts and one cardio workout per week,’ Clarke explains. ‘These could be three gym workouts or classes, and one 30 minute run, cycle or swim.’ Once you’ve planned what you’re doing, you can stay focused on the goal for that session – and then get the most out of it.

4. Make your nutrition a priority

So you’ve scheduled in your gym sessions, planned what you’re doing and stuck to your fitness regime. But all that will go to waste if your nutrition isn’t up to scratch. ‘This is the one thing that lets most people down,’ says Clarke. ‘You might think you eat healthily most of the time, but if you start logging everything you eat in a day you’re likely to find little snacks – ones that you forgot about, ones that you grabbed on the go and didn’t think much of – and often these are loaded with calories.’ She advises tracking your meals and calorie intake (there are several useful apps for this; MyFitnessPal is the industry leader) for a week or so to become more aware of your diet, and what you need to change. After all, if you’re going to all the effort to juggle your gym sessions with work, why waste it with a unhealthy diet?

5. Everybody needs a helping hand

Even if you’re eating healthily and managing to clock in the necessary hours at the gym, how do you know you’re really achieving everything you’re capable of? Georgia advises booking one or two sessions a week with a personal trainer, who will be able to give you the best advice and guidance. ‘Having somebody to be accountable to really helps when looking to achieve goals,’ she says. ‘This, plus the correct advice and motivation, will definitely boost your chances of getting everything you want out of your fitness regime.’ And that, at the end of the day, is the whole point.