How busy women make their workouts happen

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WellandGood barre workout Whether you’re obsessed with CrossFit WODs, cardio dance, or spinning classes (or anything else)—you’ve got to leave your desk, laptop, and piles of work and responsibilities to get to your workouts. And not all of us have the muscle.

It turns out that virtually no one, except maybe professional athletes, feels like they ever have enough time to work out. Even those who manage to get their sweat on four or five times a week say it's a struggle. So what do these workout superheros know that we don't?

We asked a handful women juggling demanding jobs and other life responsibilities how they manage to make their workouts so often while you’re still at work. (Sorry!)

Here are their insightful tricks and tips for getting to the gym, despite their incessantly chiming iCalendar. —Melisse Gelula


Mollie Chen BirchboxFind a morning fitness crew.
Mollie Chen, editorial director of Birchbox, New York City

I love working out in the morning—both because it clears my mind and because if I don't do it in the morning it doesn't happen. (I'm too easily waylaid by the prospect of my couch or a glass of wine.) I go to classes at the Brooklyn Heights Equinox, where there’s an amazing early morning crew. We motivate each other to get through rounds of burpees or seemingly endless pushups.



Sheeva Talebian MDKeep workout clothes at the office.
Sheeva Talebian, MD, Reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at RMA Mount Sinai, New York City

I have to be at work 7:00 a.m., so most days I’m at the gym or a spin class at 5:30 a.m. But for the days when I hit the snooze button, I keep a pair of sneakers and workout clothes under my desk. I’ll run home and do a few pushups in the park. I’m a better mother, wife, friend and doctor when I have my 45 minutes to myself to sweat and just be in my own head.

Jen-Murphy_skiDo business during your workouts (AKA sweat-work).
Jen Murphy, deputy editor of AFAR Magazine, San Francisco and New York City

Eating and drinking tend to dominate social activities, plus I used to work at Food & Wine magazine and probably went out for cocktails and indulgent dinners five nights a week. You quickly learn that’s not sustainable—and it cuts back on when you can get in workouts. So now I always ask writers, friends, and PR people if they want to meet for a spin class or yoga class and grab a drink or a bite after.


Jamie Garber GingersnapsFind a fitness love affair.
Jamie Graber, founder of raw, gluten-free eatery Gingersnap’s Organics, New York City

Don’t go spinning or just because your friends are obsessed with it, pick an exercise that you’ll fall hard for (which might very well be spinning!). When I’m busy and feel like I have no time, it’s so much sweeter because it’s something I really love. It is then in that room that I get to go inward and turn off all the distractions...No texts, no calls, no emails. It’s my appointment to shut off from other people’s needs and just choose mine.


Alice MarshallMaximize the weekend.
Alice Marshall, founder of luxury travel firm Alice Marshal Public Relations, New York City

Geography is key to making a yoga class, although I try to follow my favorite teachers, too. I’m fortunate to have two yoga studios close by—Yoga Works near my office and Exhale near my apartment. I start by being religious about going on the weekend, and then I try to map out when I can go during the work week—before work, after work, or worst case at lunch. Somehow it ends up that I go about three times a week—and sometimes more.


Karen BehnkeMarry your fitness buddy.
Karen Behnke, founder of Juice Beauty, Marin County, California

I am not naturally an early riser, but to make my workouts happen and get triathlon training in through my adult life, my husband and I get up at 5:45 a.m. and we're out the door by 6:00 together for a run or to swim laps. We're lucky‚ we can swim year-round in California! We’re finished by 7:00 a.m. when we our start our day. Weekends we get in our long bike rides.


Alexa WolmanBuy really rad leggings.
Alexa Wolman, Esq., general counsel for For Eyes Optical, Miami

My love for fashion and interesting clothes is really what inspires me to work out consistently. Besides wanting to look good outside the gym, one way I make my workouts happen is to buy something fun and inspiring to wear while I'm working out. A cardio-dance class is so much more fun when you're wearing leggings that look like a disco ball. It might sound silly, but it motivates me not just to get to my workout but to work hard when I do. I try to work out at least four times a week, and the outfit planning is a big part of the whole fun fitness-fashion experience.


Jodie PattersonDo short, really hard workouts.
Jodie Patterson, beauty-entrepreneur and founder of DooBop and Georgia

Like most women, I am way too busy for my own good. As a mom of five and involved in multiple beauty companies—DooBop, Georgia, my teen daughter just launched her own—I get very little sleep, often just three hours! So I try to do simple workouts that have a strong impact and don’t take much time. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I get on my treadmill and blast Kanye and JayZ to get me through 15 minutes of uphill sprints. In the spring and summer I do the same on the streets of Brooklyn. Sprint a block, then run a block. Repeat.


Kerry HeldBuild-in all kinds of accountability—and pre-pay for your workouts.
Kerry Held, director of client relations at Hospitality Quotient, New York City

My typical workouts are SoulCycle, running, and the occasional yoga class. I evaluate my week on Sunday night to see where and how I can fit workouts in—I have two kids and I work full-time. What I love about SoulCycle is that I am committing (i.e. paying!) for a class once I sign up, so I am much less likely to blow it off. I also just signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, so that’s providing motivation. I’d love to join a run club [for training] because I think it would help in the same way that paying for a class does in terms of accountability!


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6 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. March 1st, 2014 at 9:03 am

    No excuses now !!!

  2. April 11th, 2014 at 11:50 am

    A lot of grammatical errors…

  3. June 27th, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    +1 — new music/playlists. Granted, I work in music, so it’s top of mind. Songza is free and they have awesome lists. Hype Machine’s Popular stream is good too – lots of upbeat remixes (also free).

  4. December 29th, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I have recently gotten Class Pass and it’s been amazing! Keeps it interesting by doing different workouts and trying out new studios. Also helps with accountability because you get charged if you cancel within the 12 hour window.

  5. December 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I enjoyed this article but someone really needs to proof-read the articles on this site. The constant grammatical errors are just sloppy.

  6. February 4th, 2016 at 11:04 am

    There are some good points in this article. However, proper slow-motion, high-intensity strength training will stimulate muscle the best way possible, but recovery/time off is critical.
    My clients over the last 20 years have had consistent amazing results exercising properly once a week for just 20 minutes.

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