Making It All Work: Integrating a Fitness Plan Into Life

Posted by Filed Under: Cross Training, Running Tips

running tipsI’m a busy guy. In fact, I’m really, really busy. During the course of a typical day, I’m many things. I’m a full time student, a father of three young boys, a husband to one loving and patient wife, a dedicated employee, a paid on-call firefighter, a moderately consistent writer both here at and at my blog, and—when time permits—I’m an avid fitness junkie. I’m sure I’m not alone in this scenario, everyone is busy—more things to do then there are hours in the day. Literally, if I could eliminate time wasted sleeping, I could actually get everything done, maybe.

With this busy life, I have been forced to come up with some creative ways to squeeze runs, swims, bike rides, or other fitness activities into my over all schedule. So, I thought I share some of my best tips with you, and hopefully, you can share some of your best tips with me. I’m always looking for ways to make things easier.

Top Fitness Tips

  1. Get up early. I mean really early. I’m up between 4:30 and 4:45 am most days so I can be at the gym or on a run by 5:00. This allows me to get a workout in, on my time, with little or no impact to my family or job. Plus, it’s done. I don’t have to worry about finding time to get it in for the rest of the day. Also, you will find by making this kind of sacrifice and showing your family you care about their time, the times you can’t make it work are much easier to deal with.
  2. Block out time. In addition to my morning workouts, some days I workout at lunch during work. I make this possible by consistently blocking out time on my calendar for my workout. Because of this I get scheduled for lunchtime meetings far less often and more often than not I’m actually able to go and workout. The benefit of this time slot is that I get to workout with zero impact to my family.
  3. Plan ahead. I make every effort to plan my week ahead of time. This allows me to let everyone in my life know what my plans are and plan around other activities as necessary. The old quote goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I think this is really true, without a plan things will be more difficult and your results less dramatic.
  4. Post gym schedules near-by. I have copies of the group fitness schedule for the gym I go to at lunch at my desk on my cube wall. Also, at home, I have the group fitness schedule up on the fridge. How does this help, you ask? Well, if I find myself with an open hour, either at work or at home, I can easily look at the schedule and see if there is anything for me to do. Also, the schedules help me to plan ahead.
  5. Be open and honest. I’ve found that this has really helped in many ways. I have tried to be open and honest with my wife and my boss about how important my workouts are to me. This helps make things easier in the difficult times. Because they know it is a priority to me and I have made efforts to keep the impact on them low (see #1), they are more willing to be patient and work with me.
  6. Be flexible and know when to quit. Even with planning ahead and getting up early, and being open and honest, sometimes my plan just doesn’t work. When this happens I try to stay flexible and make changes where I can. Also, when flexibility doesn’t work, I know when I’m beat and I don’t get upset about it. Skipping a day or two (or even four like last week) isn’t the end of the world and I just do what I can.
  7. Make it worthwhile. I try to make sure that if I take the time to fit a workout into my day, I make it count. I give all I have at every opportunity and try to get as much as possible out of each workout. Not focusing or giving a second rate effort is wasted time and, if you’re as busy as I am, there’s no time to waste.
  8. Include the family. This past summer, I organized a weekly run with some friends I work with. The nature of this run made it difficult to schedule without some family impact—it had to be in the early evening. To minimize the negative impact of this, I brought one of my sons with me on the run in a jogging stroller. He loved it, my wife loved it, and I got a fun group run in every week!
  9. In the end, being busy doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your fitness goals. In fact, being busy can help you focus your attention on things that really matter and force you to make sure you are doing the fight thing at the right time. The most important part is finding the right balance between life, fitness, and family. Maintaining this balance will keep everyone happy – you included!

    Let me know if you have other tips or tricks for your exercise regimen. I’d love to hear from you!

  1. thodarumm on December 13th at 9:52 am

    Excellent post. Number 1 is the key for me. I hope to come back again to check and possibly contribute to the discussion as I have to meet with my boss now πŸ™‚

  2. mattshu on December 13th at 2:56 pm

    sounds good, but at what time do you have to go to bed to wake up at 4:30?

  3. Jeanne on December 14th at 9:13 pm

    These are great tips! Especially the getting up early part. The best I can do these days is 5:30ish. But it’s a necessary evil.

  4. kathleen on December 14th at 11:51 pm

    What do you suggest for a nurse who spends 12 hours on her feet for sometimes 3 days or nights in a row? I’ve tried the after work thing, but only on the last shift.

  5. Jack on December 15th at 6:27 am

    Great tips, the most I have used or found to be true!

  6. Aaron Engelsrud on December 15th at 6:38 am


    Great question. I really think it all goes back to #3, #6, & #7 from my post.

    Planning ahead in your case is even more important for you than others because your time is at a premium. Planning your week will allow you to find those three or four times a week that you can workout.

    Once you plan your week – 6 & 7 come into play.

    Make sure you can change your plan if necessary or just skip it if you can’t make it work.

    Finally, when you do make it to the gym, make it count. Make sure the time you take to workout is time well spent – give it your all.

    All you can do is try your best to fit it all in – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.


  7. thodarumm on December 15th at 7:05 am

    I did not work out day before yesterday. I made sure I did not make that mistake the following day. Two tips that I try to follow in addition to what is here:

    1. Go run, do not check CRN before that ( Itend to read all related topics, then click on links etc).

    2. When I miss a day or two or few in a row, I try my level best to get back into as soon as I can, otherwise I tend to go back to my old couch potato habits.

    3. I started keeping multiple sets of workout clothes in my bag in the trunk of the car so I can grab them for a run and go when I find the time.

  8. Paul Petersen on December 15th at 7:06 am

    Great post. Amen to getting up early! Even if I don’t run in the morning right when I get up, it gives me more flexibility to run from work, or to go home from work early (since I went to work early), and run in the late afternoon while it’s still light. Also, planning out my week is critical, fitting in what I have going on each each day, how much mileage I need, and how to juggle and arrange that mileage with the schedule to make the “puzzle fit.”

  9. thodarumm on December 15th at 7:07 am

    I wish we could edit our posts. OK.. I made 3 points πŸ™‚

    Another powerful motivator for me..

    Setting the right example for my children. They learn from us and I want fitness to be a part of their life..sigh.. if only my hubby cooperates.

  10. New Post at at on December 21st at 9:17 am

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  11. Aaron Engelsrud on January 11th at 12:57 pm

    I wrote this post a little over a year ago now, and somewhere, somehow in the space between then and now I lost track of everything and fell off the wagon. Re-reading this – and all the positive comments – has inspired me to put these tips back in to place in my life. I need to make sure that my running, health, and fitness can once again be a top priority for me!