Vicki Anstey, founder of Barreworks, a Richmond-based barre studio, knows only too well how hard it is to fit in exercise around a busy life. Exercise is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle, helping improve mood, balance weight, future-proofing our mobility and more. Yet, it often gets pushed to the side. So how can we fit exercise into our busy lives? Vicki Anstey shares her top tips on how to make time for exercise.
Here’s a fact: We all have 24 hours (or 1,440 minutes) in our day. So why is it that (a) you don’t have enough time to exercise and (b) other people do? We all have the same time, but taking a different approach to how you use it can be a total game-changer.
Think like a sales-person or entrepreneur…
Imagine you only got paid if your efforts produced revenue. Sales people and business owners are single-mindedly focused on ensuring that effort in = revenue out. Why? Because they would not make a living any other way. And even if it’s not in your nature (or your job description) to be quite so mercenary or money-driven, it’s a great principle to subscribe to. Once you’ve adopted that way of thinking, apply it to YOU. What makes you happy. Feel good. Live longer…
To be as productive as possible, focus on the tasks that give you the highest return for your time, how you define ‘return’ is up to you.
Write it down
Let’s say you’re awake for 16 hours (8 hours of sleep, well done!). Do you know how you spend those hours? If you think you do, go to your settings on your phone and check your average daily screen time. You might be in for a surprise. EVEN if you think you know how your time is spent (traveling, at work, watching TV, studying, eating etc.,) you might be surprised to find that you are spending hours each day doing things you’re not even aware of (social media surfing, what’s app chatting, attending pointless meetings, supermarket shopping, sitting in the pub). You don’t necessarily have to change anything, but KNOWING how you actually spend your time might make you reassess a few things.
Front-load your day
If you find that you run out of time in your day on a regular basis, chances are that you’ll stay up late ’to get everything done’. Thats a pretty vicious (knackering) cycle. Entrepreneurs get up early and make the most of the few hours before the rest of the world is moving. Try it. Make a list of 5 things you want to do before 9am. Get up at 6am and start ticking things off your list. You’re already winning and when things unexpectedly present themselves later in the day, you won’t already be behind schedule. Use one of those hours to exercise and you’ll have even more energy for the remainder of the day. AND you’ll sleep well that night.
Round holes, square pegs…
There are some tasks that can only be done at particular hours of the day. During business hours, or daylight hours. When the gym is open or when you have childcare organised. Build your day around those ‘fixed’ times. I schedule my exercise through the week and then everything else is planned around it. I know that’s the only way I’ll keep to my plan – and more importantly, that however difficult it is for me to commit to those times, my week will run better, and my mental outlook will be better if I do.
How urgent is it?
Does the thing that’s taking up too much of your time need to be done at all? Can the email just be deleted? If you don’t do the task you set yourself, will there be ANY negative impact on your life (or anyone else’s) in 6 months time? Sometimes the things we think are important are totally insignificant. Take a step back and reassess. And guess what? An hour’s exercise is a brilliant way to get perspective and come back to a task with a different point of view!
Think, am I the only person who can do it? If you spend 4 hours a week ironing and you can out-source that for £30, you get 4 hours back to exercise. Same for cleaning or gardening. Of course you might enjoy doing these things, or you may not have the means to pay someone else to do them. But you don’t have to do everything. Who else in your household can help? Or can you swap chores with friends somehow to ‘buy’ yourself some extra time.
Every hour counts…
There’s no such thing as ‘dead time’ – so when you have meeting unexpectedly cancel, use it as a bonus to your day. Don’t go and sit drinking endless cups of coffee, or lose yourself in your instagram feed. Seize the day, or hour and get something (a run, cycle, swim, gym session) unexpected done. It will feel soooo good.
Plan around your energy
If all this talk of early mornings and efficient use of every hour you have is exhausting, keep a diary of when you feel naturally most energised. Plan to achieve the most at those times. So if (try as you might) you are just not a morning person, don’t sweat it. If you come awake at 9pm, that’s just how you’re wired. Just be realistic about what you can achieve at that time of the night! And if you’re not sure, experiment! We can change our habits. Try a different approach for a week and see if there is a different (more productive) outcome. Build positive (productive) habits and repeat them over and over until they become a way of life.
Plan tomorrow, today. Always go to bed with a clear idea of what you have to achieve the next day. Don’t leave it to chance. Know what time you need to be up, what you might need to prepare the night before to make your goals reality. Things always change and you need to adapt, or that can cause unnecessary stress, but have a plan and stick to it as closely as you can.
Vicki Anstey is the UK’s leading Barre expert and the founder of www.barreworks.co.uk she was one of the first female recruits for SAS Who Dares Wins – keep up to date with her journey on social media @vickianstey