Making Time for the Gym (With Neither Time nor a Gym)

The world is your gym. You just have to be creative. Here are 6 ways I do it.

As I stand here on the Manhattan bound train practicing my balance and sweating slightly, let me write you a little story. I was a 165 lb. Asian woman of 5' 7" stature and I had a problem. I had just given birth, which meant that sadly, I no longer had an excuse for not being fit. I also had a full-time job that took up most of my day from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (including the commute). I had recently quit my gym membership because I couldn't stand the boredom or the cost. At home, I have another child, a dog and a husband whose work schedule left me alone half of the week. To put things succinctly, the people standing around me are lucky I fit a shower into my routine last night. So how did I manage to lose 35 lbs in six months without time or a gym? For me, I had to be smarter about where I could inject daily workout routines that was acceptable within an ever-increasingly hectic schedule. Because exercise became just one more habit in a day of endless tasks, I didn't find it stressful and was successful in keeping it up. There is a minor caveat, however - sometimes you have to be willing to sweat a little bit in public or at work. Still, nothing some baby wipes and a good deodorant can't fix. It's a small price to pay if you ask me. My first workout is at 6:30 a.m., after I've already gotten dressed and fed the youngest. I previously had a daily routine of walking my dog, but after the children came, I found myself with less and less time to properly take care of her fitness needs. At some point, I realized I could fit in four times the amount of stress relief for my husky mix on a bike than on my feet, so I ordered one of those spring attachments for her. It was pretty great - I got to save time and knee cartilage while she got a faster pace and more outside time. On mornings when the husband is home to stay with the children, I leash my girl up and take her for a mile spin and we hen have a low-impact romp with the other dogs in the park and play fetch. (I'm a terrible pitcher and the ball never goes far, so I have to throw the ball often - great for the upper arms.) My second workout idea came to me when I moved to the middle of nowhere Brooklyn and now had to take a bus to the train. My closest train is a mile and a half away. At first, I figured it was walkable so I started with that. I would listen to music, tweet random nothings, watch the seasons change and take in other small delights that gave me a good half hour break from my day. More recently, I have transitioned from walking to jogging. I put my shoes in a book bag and saw if I can beat the previous day's time. You would think it would be a bother, but it becomes quite enjoyable if you get into a routine. What about the sweat? Well, in the summer it takes me about four train stops to stop perspiring. I'm fairly freshly bathed so I never have any problems with odor, and in about ten minutes I'm pretty comfortable again. The real benefit comes in the colder months where I get to be the only freak on the train platform comfortably jacket-less while others writhe in frost-bitten pain. Don't have a bus commute, you say? When I used to only take the train, I would give myself some extra time and get off a few stops early and would walk the rest of my commute. On nice days, I would bike the hour to work. The ride over the Brooklyn bridge in the mornings never ceased to be amazing. My third workout is on the train. It consists of standing for forty minutes with as little rail contact as possible. One of the reasons that I like to stand rather than sit is because I do this pretty much for the rest of the day. Besides, whenever I do sit, without fail a pregnant woman or elderly person stands in front of me and I feel obliged to offer my seat. I don't use the hand rail because I'm working to improve my balance over time - great for when you're learning how to fall down mountains gracefully in the winter months. My fourth workout happens while I am sitting at work.  For the last few years, I have replaced my chair with a yoga ball and ever since then, I have had no back or shoulder pains and can sit comfortably for concerts on a lawn with no back support. If I change jobs and am forced to use a chair for the sole reason of avoiding being ostracized as a weirdo, my back pain, predictably, will start to resurface around the second month. My fifth workout happens at lunch time. It can consist of a ten mile bike ride around Central Park, an hour long yoga class taught by my coworker, or a 3.5 run with others at work. It happens pretty often and randomly, but encouraging the already active people at work has done wonders in making sure we all stay interested to work out. My sixth workout is simple - It's called the weekend with the kids.  Simply trying to pull and entertain two kids all day beats all of these workouts combined. So, six months and 35 lbs later, I might be in better shape than before I was pregnant, and I'm still striving for more. You may not be lucky enough to be able to have a full lunch break, be able to keep a bike at work, or sit on a yoga ball. But if you are resourceful and flexible enough, I'm sure you can make it happen over time. The important thing is to not stress too much over it, or anything at all. The best thing you can do in life is try. If you're doing that, you're doing as much as you can. If you can't make it happen today, don't get down on yourself. We can always try harder tomorrow. [Feature Photo Credits] Lisa Chin is a Senior Interactive Director at SNAP Interactive and the newest columnist for Wika Magazine. You can check out Lisa's online portfolio here.