How To Optimize Your Lunchtime Workout

Let me say this up front, I am not a fan of lunchtime workouts. I think they are a terrible idea. Terrible, horrible and you can stop feeling guilty for not ‘squeezing one in’ during your work day.

Yes, I relieve you of any feelings of guilt from this day hence for not making time for a lunchtime workout. Poof. Gone.

Why do I feel that way? For me, working out is me time. Time to destress. Time to block out the rest of the world and focus on the one thing I’m doing at that very moment. Working out. The normal hustle and bustle required to get in a gym workout over my lunch break causes me more stress than joy, so I take a pass.

That being said, there are plenty of people who want to workout during their lunch break. And if that’s the case, I want you to get a good workout in. And it is possible. But before we get there, I need to paint you a picture of what a normal lunchtime workout usually looks like.

Let’s imagine it’s Monday and you desperately want to workout over your lunch hour. All hail the #MondayMotivation.

Let’s also imagine that you have a gym in your building or within less than 5 minutes walking distance.

Let’s also imagine that said gym provides you with a locker room, showers and towels.

We’ll pause here for a moment. The above imagined criteria saves you the hassle of:

  • considerable time spent commuting to and from the gym
    • not to mention the added stress of possibly being caught in traffic and missing your regularly schedule Monday afternoon meeting
  • remembering to pack a fresh towel
  • finding a safe place to store your valuables while you get your sweat on
    • i.e., your wallet, smartphone, work badge, jewelry, etc.

The above factors are no small things and make the probability of getting a good lunchtime workout in far more feasible.

Lunchtime Workout Essentials

Don’t forget to pack the following items:

  • workout clothes
  • workout shoes
  • water bottle
  • fitness tracker (i.e., Fitbit or smartphone)
  • headphones
  • shower flip-flops
  • shower toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, hairdryer, makeup, etc.)
  • combination lock (or a lock with a key, depending on your preference)

You’ll also be spending a considerable chunk of time prepping for the gym and on the backside for your return to the office. You’ll likely eat up 10 minutes of your lunch hour getting to and from the gym. Another 5 minutes changing clothes. Showering is another 5 minutes (no one is luxuriating in the corporate gym showers and for the love of all that is good please wear sandals for feet hygiene sake!). If you are a woman who wears makeup, add on another 5-10 minutes to reapply and style hair.

All of the above steps combined add up to 30 minutes. A generous lunch break is 60 minutes. That leaves you with 30 minutes to workout. Great! You can get a good amount of movement in that does your body a lot of good in 30 minutes. Here’s the rub…

Office gyms are notoriously busy at lunch, as are lunch hour classes at nearby gyms. What typically happens is that the piece(s) of equipment you want to use is occupied, or the class is so full that the amount of space you are allotted makes you wish you hadn’t shown up at all.

This means you need to improvise. You’ve committed to the lunchtime workout, made the commute, switched clothes,… you’ve come this far and are DETERMINED to get a workout in.

Do you:

a) Sulkily choose a different piece of equipment, i.e., hop on the elliptical instead of the treadmill, stay angry for a good portion of the rest of your day and resolve to never do a lunchtime workout again

b) See someone getting a personal training session and pull a Bridesmaids (imitate them from a distance)

c) Recall something you once saw on a reality fitness show and try and replicate it to the best of your ability

d) Put in a few reps on random weight training equipment before begrudgingly giving up

Ok, all sarcasm aside…lunchtime workouts – when given an adequate amount of time and proper gym equipment / class size – can be a wonderful thing. Clearly, I am not a fan. I think that much should be obvious by now.

But you can get a good workout in over your lunch break. And as promised, here are three great ways to accomplish just that.

3 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Lunchtime Workout

You still want to workout at lunchtime? I admire your tenacity. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your lunch break workout.

Take A Walk

If you live somewhere with a temperate climate – go for a 20-30 minute walk outside. Take your cube mate…or someone you actually like…and go for a stroll. Walk solo and listen to a podcast…or call your mom…or book yourself a massage and win major productivity points.

Walking around your office requires zero commute time, no changing of clothes, no showering, no stressing about personal space (we’ve all been to that yoga class where a half dozen too many people were jammed into the studio) or towel service required. You get my point.

Don’t live in a temperate climate? Find a floor in your building and do laps. Sounds boring? It’s twenty minutes. Listen to music. Press play on your audiobook. Catch up on the news. You can fill twenty minutes gabbing with a coworker as you round corner after corner.

Register For A Class

Sign up for a class in advance. This guarantees you a spot in the class. Plus you get the added comfort of knowing you’ll get to participate in an exercise you enjoy.

BONUS: Did you forget your headphones? Doesn’t matter, you won’t be using them anyways.

Book A Session With A Personal Trainer

Strength train with a personal trainer. Most gyms will have personal trainers on staff that can take you through a quality strength training routine in 30 minutes.

The best part about working with a trainer is that if your usual piece(s) of equipment is being used by another member, your trainer will know a different exercise to substitute in.

Some Movement Is Better Than No Movement

I’m definitely an advocate of getting some movement in over your lunch break. Just don’t think that there is only one way to accomplish that goal.

Remember, working out should be energizing, not draining, frustrating or stress-inducing.

Your lunchtime is sacred.

It’s a time for you to refresh and recharge.

Maybe that means getting out of the office and lifting weights, or hitting a spin class or taking a walk outside. Maybe it means taking 5 minutes to meditate in a conference room (it’s surprising how available they are between the hours of 12pm-1pm).

Make the most of your lunchtime workout by making it a ritual that you want to repeat. Once you can do that, you’re golden.