How to Squeeze in Fitness When You Own a Business

Working health into your routine may be easier than you think.
Dana Kay
Dana Kaye, owner of boutique PR company Kaye Publicity, uses two tech gadgets, FitBit and Cubii, to stay fit. (Photo: Dana Kaye)

From marathon meetings and client conference calls to managing staff and crunching numbers, running your own business is a 24/7 commitment.

While this demanding schedule forces you to make certain compromises in your personal life, here’s one thing you shouldn’t sacrifice: your workout.

Exercise will prevent burnout and keep you healthy, allowing you to give your business 100 percent every day. To make it easier, we consulted with executives and fitness experts to provide tips and ideas on finding the time for a quick workout.

Here are seven smart ways you can squeeze in fitness when you own a business:

Become a morning person

Ray McKenzie

“I break a sweat at 5 a.m. and get a steady regimen of cardio, weights and stretching five to six days a week” -Ray McKenzie (Photo: Ray McKenzie)

It’s unlikely you already have a business engagement in the early-­morning hours, making it the perfect time to work out.

Ray McKenzie, founder and principal of management consultant group Red Beach Advisors, has a packed schedule that requires early-­morning starts.

“As the founder of my consulting firm, my days start pretty early and my workouts start even earlier,” he said.

“I break a sweat at 5 a.m. and get a steady regimen of cardio, weights and stretching five to six days a week.”

If you struggle to avoid the snooze button, try sleeping in your workout clothes so you’re ready to go as soon as your eyes open.

McKenzie said exercising before work amps up his day. “Working out in the morning provides a boost to my daily energy and mood,” he says. “And my mind and focus function at an increased rate.”

Wear your weights

Strength training is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, and you don’t have to trek to the gym to do it.

Zondra Wilson

“I do a lot of walking. If I have to go somewhere that is within a mile of my home office, I will walk and wear leg weights or carry 5­-pound dumbbells.” -Zondra Wilson (Photo: Zondra Wilson)

Zondra Wilson, owner of organic skincare company Blu Skin Care, has found some creative ways to incorporate weightlifting into her workday.

“I do a lot of walking. If I have to go somewhere that is within a mile of my home office, I will walk and wear leg weights or carry 5­-pound dumbbells,” she said. “I also wear leg weights when walking around the office.”

Ankle weights are easily concealed under pants and will strengthen your calves.

Jump rope for health

Gyms provide all kinds of cardio equipment that make it worth the hefty membership fees. But people with packed schedules may find it tough to squeeze in a good cardio workout on a daily basis. The good news is that you can do cardio on the go with a jump rope.

Patrick Henigan, owner of Jacksonville Fitness Academy, encourages his busiest clients to toss a jump rope in their bag to have access to a major cardio workout, which can burn up to 1,300 calories per hour.

“Jumping rope takes no more than a 10­-minute commitment and provides cardiovascular benefits while actually building muscle,” he said. “Not to mention it can be performed anywhere and the monetary investment is no more than $15. Mix in some push­-ups with short rest periods [for a full-­body workout].”

Get friendly with gadgets

Fitness gadgets make it easy to track your progress and remind you to work out during manic days when you might otherwise forget.

Dana Kaye, owner of boutique PR company Kaye Publicity, has found two tech gadgets that keep fitness incorporated into her busy days.

“First, I got a FitBit, which encourages me to take a walk at lunch,” she said. “Even if my day is slammed, I try to go outside and walk every day.”

As the FitBit tracks your progress, you’ll be hard­-pressed not to squeeze in a few extra steps throughout your day.

“I also bought a Cubii, which is an under-­the-­desk elliptical,” Dana said. “It’s quiet and can be used while typing. I burn anywhere between 200­-300 extra calories a day using it.”

“Run” your meetings

Need to get the team together for a quick brainstorming session? Rather than hosting your meeting sitting in a stale meeting room, tell your staff to lace up their sneakers and take the conference on the go.

Sebastien Dupéré, president and CEO of steam­-cleaning products company Dupray, finds that jogging meetings are a major boon to his fitness during his 60-­hour work weeks.

“Having business meetings while on a light jog with your employees kills two birds with one stone,” he said. “An elevated heart rate moves you away from laziness, and the things you see outside spark curiosity. We’re all much fitter, happier and healthier – and we’re being efficient at the same time!”

Just give your staff a couple days advance notice so they can come prepared, and keep the pace light.

Equip your office

Han Chang

“I have a pull-­up bar attached to my office door that I use whenever I’m stuck on a problem.” -Han Chang (Photo: Han Chang)

Whether you work from home or have a corner office, incorporating a few key pieces of gear will make it easy to squeeze in exercise between emails and calls.

“I have a pull-­up bar attached to my office door that I use whenever I’m stuck on a problem,” said Han Chang, cofounder of InvestmentZen.com and software engineer at General Assembly. “I do 10 pull­-ups, which really helps reset my mind and refocus on the problem at hand.”

Lori D'Allesandro

“Do 10 squats before you sit in your chair, or 10 shoulder presses for every 20 minutes you spend at the computer.” -Lori D’Allesandro (Photo: Lori D’Allesandro)

Health and weight-­loss coach Lori D’Alessandro encourages her clients to hang a resistance band in their work stations.

“It’s very important to leave it out so you can see it and have the visual clue to use it,” she said.

Resistance bands can be used to enhance tons of exercises, including bicep curls, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, and chair squats, all of which can be done in an office.

“Make a rule to go with each exercise,” she said. “For example, do 10 squats before you sit in your chair, or 10 shoulder presses for every 20 minutes you spend at the computer.”

Still want more? Swap your standard desk for a standing desk for an extra boost to your fitness routine.

Make it a team effort

Incorporating fun, energetic activities into your business culture will strengthen your team and allow you to burn a few calories in the process.

Brandon Adams, the chief technical officer of charity startup Loftii, has found that taking the time for short bursts of exercises actually leads to greater productivity from his team.

“Loftii has super stressful and action­-packed days, but as a management team, we know that the benefits of exercise for the team are tremendous in their work output,” he said. “To keep the team physically fit and mentally alert, we have ‘Twos Time.’ Every two hours on the top of the hour, we all do an exercise together for two minutes. Not only does it help get people mentally stimulated, it strengthens the team dynamic when you are all suffering through two minutes of planks together or when you all feel ridiculous lunging congo­-line style through rows of cubicles.”

Foster healthy competition by hosting inter-­department competitions to see which teams can wall-­sit the longest, do the most push-­ups in two minutes, or run up and down the stairs the fastest.

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