When you only have 10 minutes to workout

The other week, I had 10 minutes to workout. The day was crazy so I wasn’t able to go at lunch and then I had to teach after work. I had planned on taking the class before mine, but traffic was so bad that I missed it. After my class, there was literally 10 minutes before the next event started, so I just got to work doing what I could in that time. By the time 10 mins was up, I was sweating and felt like I had gotten in a pretty decent workout.

I shared this tip with a friend who was talking to me about how she’s struggling to find time to workout since she’s had a baby, even though she knows that it’s exactly what she needs to do. When I told her to just start with 10 mins, maybe 3x per week, she said it made it seem so much more DOABLE, rather than thinking she needed to spend an hour in the gym 5 times a week.

The thing is, if we have this mindset that we need to do X days for X minutes/hours per day, it’s daunting, overwhelming and quite frankly, setting us up for “failure” (or at least that’s how we may feel, even though that’s not the case). It’s hard to keep that up! And what happens when we only get in 30 minutes of working out 4 times in a week, rather than the hour a day for 5 days? We feel like we didn’t do enough. That we can’t keep up on our goals. That our hard work has gone to waste. We feel like “what’s the point in tomorrow’s workout? I’ve already messed up?”

I don’t know about you, but that’s no fun to me. That, and I don’t want anyone to feel like they “messed up” or “failed” because they didn’t get in X amount of workouts per week. Shit happens, life happens, things unexpectedly take up our time. And you know what? IT’S NO BIG DEAL! If working out/getting movement in is a priority and part of your lifestyle, a few days off- or even a week off- is not the end of the world. And in this case, 10 minutes is certainly better than nothing.

Actually, 10 minutes is always better than nothing. 5 minutes is better than nothing. 1 minute of big belly breaths to center your thoughts is better than nothing.

We are all busy, so doesn’t it sound so much better and easier to just have to focus on getting in 10 minutes of exercise? Bonus? If you get 15 in you’re feeling REALLY good! On top of the physical benefits that movement has, the mental benefits are also huge. When I’m stressed or feeling overwhelmed, sad, etc., movement usually helps turn things around. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout, and in fact, often times when we are filled with high emotions (good, bad, etc), a lighter movement choice is often even better for us- think: long walk, nice bike ride, gentle yoga flow, stretching, etc.

At the end of the day, though, we all have 10 minutes in our day 3-5 days a week that we can dedicate to movement- and that movement can be whatever YOU need/want on any particular day. Wondering how you can find those 10 minutes? Scroll through social media one less time during the day, watch one less TV episode, do something while you’re on the phone (I always call my mom when I go for walks!)… these are just a few of the things that I know suck up my time during the day, which may differ for you.

I promise, if you’re struggling with keeping a consistent workout regimen, take a closer look at why. Is the regimen too intense or too time consuming? Does it always require you finding time to go to a class or to the gym? Does it require too much equipment? Is it too expensive? Once you pinpoint what’s holding you back, think about ways you can  fix it. If the workouts you have planned are too long- decide on 10 minutes 3 times a week. That probably seems WAY MORE doable, right? If you don’t have the proper equipment at home or don’t like using all the equipment at the gym, start with finding bodyweight exercises! I’ve got tons to choose from 😉 Too expensive? Google “free fitness in X city” and I bet you’ll find so many- with Seaport Sweat in Boston this summer, there are over 8 classes a week to choose from!

Working out doesn’t have to be- and quite frankly, shouldn’t be- a huge issue/inconvenience/weight on your shoulders. Let’s be real, we don’t have time for that. Once I started letting go of “fitness rules” and comparing myself to others (usually those who have fitness as their full time gig and generally have more time & convenience to workout and do fancy things), it all seemed so much easier, so much more doable. And at this point, if I can only fit in 10 minutes, I focus on the fact that I was able to do that rather than beating myself up because I didn’t do more. I challenge you to do the same- your self worth is not measured by how many minutes you spend working out or in the gym- life is too short for that.


Questions for you: Do you have “fitness rules” in terms of what constitutes a workout? How long is your standard workout? Do you alternate between high intensity and low intensity?