Mid-Day Workouts: Yay or Nay?

midday-workoutsToday, let’s talk about a subject that we’re sure is near and dear to everyone’s hearts, particularly given the new guidelines that women should get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day: is it acceptable to sneak in a mid-day workout? How can it be accomplished with style and grace?

The main problem that we’ve always had with a mid-day workout is the fact that the hour dwindles pretty quickly if you head to the gym and plan on showering afterward. Let’s say that you have an hour to workout:
– Subtract 5 minutes for the trek from your office to the gym (assuming it’s somewhere very close, like around the corner)
– Subtract 5 minutes to get into your workout clothes, get “checked in,” get your towel, and secure your locker.
– Let’s subtract another 20 minutes for a shower after your workout — by which we mean disrobing, bathing, and getting re-dressed in your work attire.*
– Subtract another 5 minutes to return to the office … with dripping wet hair and no makeup.

Which means that if you have an hour to work out, you’re left with … 25 minutes for a workout. And you’re still stuck with wet hair and no make up. For that reason, we’ve always tried to save the kickboxing/interval/running workouts for before or after work, and stuck to milder forms of midday exercise. For example:
– A 30-60 minute walk around the neighborhood. Bonus points to anyone who doesn’t do it in white aerobic shoes.
– A Pilates or yoga video at your desk (assuming enough privacy in your office). We’re not proud of it, but we’ll ‘fess up to watching a Pilates DVD from our office computer. You can (for the most part) stay in your work clothes or (see above re: privacy) change into yoga pants in your office. Still: lock the door, tell your secretary something to keep her and others out, and keep the DVD’s volume low.
– A trek to the gym for weightlifting. You still have to deal with changing/traveling, but for the most part you can skip the shower afterward. (You can, of course, bring a variety of weights in to your office — a set of 5-8-12 pounds should serve you well for most instructional videos. (We’re huge fans Get Ripped! with Jari Love: Slim & Lean (available at Amazon for $12.49.) (We like her other DVDs also, but this one is particularly great because there’s no explicit cardio component — plus, if pressed for time, you can split up the segments so you do lower body and upper body on different days.)

* Obviously, you can skip washing your hair, and use a showercap instead — but by our estimation you only save about a minute or two.  And while we’re fans of dry shampoo sometimes, we generally find that they work best when our hair is dry — and not wet with sweat.  But maybe we’re wrong?

Readers, how do you fit in a mid-day workout?  Any products or tips to make it more efficient?

(L-2)

Comments

  1. Great question. I’m lucky to have a gym right in our building, which I use probably about once a week (I know I know, but something is better than nothing – right?). I limit my exercise to fast walking on the treadmill and lifting weights. As a general rule, I don’t sweat much at the gym at all. I skip the shower and just towel down with a damp cloth and reapply deodorant. I freshen mymakeup if need be, but like I said, because I hardly sweat, I usually don’t need to.

    I usually go to the gym around 4 pm or so, so even when I get back to work, I’m usually only there for another 2 hours and most people don’t even see me. The advantage of working in big law is that no one keeps tabs of when I’m out of the office and frankly, not sure anyone really cares.

    When I go to our gym, I usually see a mix of partners/associates there as well. I initially felt really awkward about seeing colleagues in gym clothes, but heck, the gym is free and I quickly got over it.

    • Try baby wipes/moist towlettes instead of a damp towel — faster/more refreshing – and take up less room in your gym bag :-)

    • Yes about that, I have been meaning to send a question about this.
      There is a very upscale gym (the best in the country). My company has a plan for employees to their gym membership costs about 30% less than normal.
      It seems that everybody is going there now that summer is getting close.
      I am very tempted because of the quality of service and equipment.
      However, my issue is whether I am still expected to pay attention to what I would wear at the gym. I know this is where the socialties of the country meet to workout (and sign contracts) but I still want to have a good heartfelt sweaty workout.
      How do you manage such situations?

      • Personally I wear my ratty gym clothes and don’t care who sees me sweat, but if you’re running into people you work with professionally and you think they might be judgy, I’d just find another gym.

        In college I once saw my German professor coming out of the gym shower totally nude. This is not something you want to happen to you.

      • My $0.02 – I’ve never run into a co-worker at the gym, but I wouldn’t have a problem if I did. I think it’s fine if your coworkers see you sweaty and enjoying a strenuous workout at the gym.

        I think the more difficult question – which I think was covered in a previous post at some point – is what to wear. I personally only wear spandex as a base layer (sports bras, underarmour, etc.) and workout in tshirts and longer shorts, so I wouldn’t feel inappropriately exposed (for me, personally) if I bumped into a coworker. Sweaty? Yes. Revealing, no. Maybe I would feel embarrassed if I was exercising in a tight tank top and short shorts, but I don’t do that anyway.

        • I totally agree with the “Sweaty? Yes. Revealing? No.” I used to go to the gym at lunch and would run into higher-ups. They were sweaty too and dressed in old T-shirts, no big deal. When i workout on the weekends or in the morning at my local (not office) gym, i wear tighter dry-fit shirts and typically dry-fit spandex pants. i would NEVER wear this to the gym at lunch though. It gives the wrong impression.
          As for working out on my lunch break, I really enjoyed it. I’m pregnant now, so the classes are kind of limited and i hate the treadmill. I know i’ll pick back up after the baby, seeing as my time will be even more limited. My job is flexible and understanding that i take about an hour twenty minute lunch and they don’t mind me eating at my desk. I don’t smoke or take any other kind of break during the day so i feel my extra 20 minutes isn’t too big a deal. I also factor the walk to and from the gym as part of my warm up and cool down. I’m usually booking it there and back.
          I also think my employer is extra understanding b/c health is very important to them. i work for a large corp. and they are always encouraging employees to get active and be healthy. it lowers their healthcare cost in the long run, so they are supportive.

      • I have worked out for 7 years in a gym frequented by colleagues and executives at my company. I find if I dress conservatively (as the other poster said, no spandex), then I feel fine. They are there to get sweaty too, after all.

      • Houda,

        I am in a similar situation as you… I go to an “upscale” gym, probably the nicest in my city, and since it’s so close to work I often see executives there.

        I sweat when I work out, and I like to wear black yoga pants and a tank top, or a black or white tee. I feel perfectly confortable with the executives seeing me that way, and it doesn’t show much sweat. The gym gives out gray t shirts and shorts for those who want it, but I could never wear those without looking like a wet dog!

  2. katherine :

    I usually just finish my midday workouts with a swab of deodorant and some face wipes to combat the shiny forehead problem. Obviously, this won’t work if you have somewhere nice you have to get to afterwards, but it’s one of those you-do-what-you-can type scenarios.

  3. I can only pull off the mid-day workout if I’m very slow. On most days, I’m lucky to have time to grab my salad out of the office fridge so that I can eat-while-working at my desk. Working out over the lunch hour usually takes me at least an hour and a half round trip — more like 2 hours if I get in what I consider to be a “full” workout. My gym carries most of the stuff you need (shampoo, conditioner, hairdryers, etc), has laundry service, and is located a few blocks from the office, and I still can’t realistically do this on a daily basis. Being out of the office and unavailable for 1.5-2 hours is just not an option.

    I know of several women who had one of those mini-stepper machines in our old office. However, we recently moved offices and now the interior walls are frosted glass (aka everyone can vaguely see what you’re doing). That eliminates a lot of possibilities — I don’t mind taking a 10 minute break to do some push-ups, lunges, and squats, but not if there is (relatively highly probable) chance that one of the partners is going to “see” me doing them.

  4. divaliscious11 :

    Love the idea..have only been able to make it work successfully when there was a full gym in the building. I always had to block of an hour and a half, but the job I had at the time was one that icould take the time and still keep up on my caseload.

    now I go to a place that is half-way between work and home and has classes that start within an hour of my normal leaving time. If I get all the way home, I am not going back out, but I have found that having the workout halfway between works well for me….

  5. I hate mid-day workouts. I can’t do them, so mornings are best for me. Not that you asked, but I wake at 6:15, out the door by 6:40, and arrive to the gym by 7:00. Weather permitting, I run 3-4 miles outside in a nearby park, go back inside the gym for stretching and a shower. Then I’m off to work by 8:45. I do this 2-3 times a week, and I always run one day during the weekend.

    • That is amazing. Morning workouts make me want to cry I’m so tired. I never feel invigorated afterwards, just exhausted. I usually work out between dinner and bedtime.

      • Just hav ea cup of coffee before your morning workout.

        Or if after dinner works for you, stick with that.. wahtever gets it in there.

        • Yeah, the coffee doesn’t work. Even when I was an athlete in school I couldn’t do mornings. About an hour after dinner is perfect for me, except it means I don’t get a workout in if I have evening plans.

  6. Since I tend to like the hour long classes that are offered by my gym, mid-day just doesn’t work for me. I have to get to the gym, change into workout gear, take class, shower (b/c I’m not going back to the office all sweaty), change back into work clothes and make it back to the office.

    I’ll stick to working out after work in the evenings and on weekend mornings.

  7. About the only thing I do mid-day is walk around the block. I’d love to have 4 p.m. workouts, but that just wouldn’t do at my office, so I either do before work or after (I’m lucky in that my office is an early to get in early to leave kind of place, so I can usually workout between office and home after work).

  8. I used to run around my work campus every day at lunch. I had an office that I could close and lock, so I changed right there, headed out the door for 40 minutes of running, came back and would wipe down my arms, armpits, and legs with wet towels, reapply deodorant, touch up my makeup and brush my hair. It was grodier in the summer, but I managed to make it work. Actual food eaten was in small amounts in the morning and afternoon. If I went over my hour, I would just stay at work that extra amount in the afternoon. A shower/changing room right at work would have been perfect. I miss it.

  9. Sherry, Chicago, IL :

    Until my office moved recently, there an Equinox within a block and I would do yoga 2x/week from 12-1, leaving the office about 11:50 and returning 1:15ish. Loved it and would return in such better spirits, now I have a gym in the building and just need to get into a good routine.

    • And now Equinox has a fridge full of chilled, scented towels you can use to “wipe down” after mid-day workouts.

      During a recent trial, one of the partners paid a yoga instructor to come 4 times a week after dinner (before we went back to work for the night.) It was amazing.

      • Not to be graphic but how were you not all ill? Yoga is supposed to be practiced on an empty stomach. Nor should you run/lift/otherwise exercise immediately after dinner! I’m kind of shocked that people didn’t end up getting sick.

        Kudos to your (law) partner for having his heart in the right place though…next time, BEFORE dinner :)

        • That’s the “classical” teaching, Anon, but I don’t think yoga as it’s taught or practiced in the U.S. needs to be so dogmatic. As a yoga teacher [who also happens to be a partner at my law firm], I’ve found (both in my own practice and observing my students) that every body is different, every person’s needs are different, and the traditional rules (I’m thinking more of practicing on an empty stomach, not all the classical yamas and niyamas) don’t apply in equal measure to every practitioner.

          • Thanks, jojo. Interesting to hear a different perspective, I appreciate it! As a competitive athlete, I’ve found that my fuel requirements are different for different types of training, but for yoga, anything other than water in the 2-3 hours before my practice will only set me back.

        • and FWIW, there’s also lot of debate in the yoga community about the “traditional” rule that women should not practice inversions during menstruation, the “traditional” rule having been propounded largely by men.

          Just sayin’ ;)

    • I would need to block 90 mins for a 40-45 min workout (but I have to shower as my workout is running/jogging and I sweat a lot). But I hate the whole routine at midday so now I just run 30 mins daily before I get to work – makes me come in rather later than most folks, though with a global job, no one really cares!

  10. I cannot see myself taking time during the day to workout. And, frankly, I don’t think it’s healthy to eat while working (or watching TV, or etc.), so if I don’t have to, I will avoid that. Taking an hour to work out would mean eating while working & it seems silly to add something “beneficial” while simultaneously taking something “beneficial” away.

    Instead, I just try to move throughout the day (which besides being good for my body is also good for my mind). This means, taking the stairs to the 5th floor a few times a day (vs. the elevator), walking to the bathroom further away, walking briskly to get lunch somewhere a few blocks away, and getting off at a subway stop or two further away.

    That said, I do know someone who keeps a treadmill in her office and does 30 minutes of brisk walking every day before leaving. It seems to work for her. I just don’t have the office space.

    • Agree about making decisions (the bathroom farther away) to increase movement during the day. When I’m out running car-errands I park as far away from the store as possible, barring, of course, time constraints and the need to carry heavy stuff back to the car.

      I’m not aware of the not eating and working/tv at the same time, expand, please?

      • anon - chi :

        I’ve always heard that eating while you do something else means you are more likely to overeat because you are not focusing on your food or physical sensations like getting full. I doubt this is a big problem at work where you would only have a limited amount of food available (i.e. whatever you brought in for lunch). But there is also something to be said for taking even 15 minutes to chill and relax while you eat – in my experience, it recharges you much more than if you eat while working, and you’re really only saving those 15 minutes anyway.

        • anon – chi: thanks. Oh, the bliss of ditching work for however long you can afford at lunchtime, eat your lunch, even if all you can manage is to switch your computer away from work and over to your favorite websites (hi, Kat;)) for 15 min. I’m a big believer in taking a short break even if you think you can’t afford it.

  11. I’ve got it down to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
    5 minutes to walk to gym
    5-8 minutes to change into gym clothes & get to class
    45 minute spin class, followed by 5 minutes of push-ups, wall balls, thrusters, or other upper-body exercises.
    2-3 minute shower (rinse off with soap provided)
    3-4 minutes get dressed
    1 minute Use blow dryer to dry hair which has gotten sweaty (generally around the nape of the neck)
    5 minute walk back to the office

    I skip makeup on the days I’m going to the gym. Just takes too long. Obviously the most important thing about working out is finding the time to do it — whether morning, noon or night.

    Also, if you do yoga, you can skip the shower & should be able to get away with the most minimal reapplication of deodorant.

  12. At my old job, a small group of women in my office (ranging from 3-5, depending on the day) hired a personal trainer to meet us at the office at noon every Tuesday and Thursday for a half-hour power weight training session. We’d change in the bathroom and then meet our trainer in a large vacant room in our building. We brought in limited equipment–mats, free weights ranging from 5-12 pounds, blow-up balance balls, i-phone speakers, and we took turns with the playlists. We didn’t sweat, but we got a good work-out. Also a good time with the colleagues. Once we brought in a belly-dancing workout video on a day when the trainer had to cancel, but that pretty much just resulted in hysterical laughter.

  13. In a previous position there was a fitness center a short walk away, and I had a flexible lunch hour — as in if I took a little longer it was fine (especially since I worked 12 hour days more often than not) – I would walk over, change, go on the recumbent bike for half an hour, use baby wipes/towlettes to clean up, and head back… and honestly, it was fine – I wasn’t doing crazy cardio, I just needed to move… Now though I can’t fit in the time to get to a gym, change, work out, etc etc etc in a reasonable frame- less flexible office, less convenient fitness center… but I loved being able to do it when I could!

  14. Lunch-hour workout, ugh, not for me. Too much rushing around, and I hate getting dressed immediately after a shower. Evening workouts here: walk 15 min. to gym, which is deserted, so no line-up for machines, workout, walk home, shower, jammies, bed. Lovely.

    • How do you get to sleep? If I get a really good workout, it takes me at least 2 hours for me to feel cooled down and relaxed enough to go to bed. When I work out at night, it’s at my apartment building, so I don’t have the commute to include in that time.

      • The evening workouts are weight-lifting only, half an hour of fairly intense machine-work, so by the time I’ve walked home I’m cooled down, and the shower relaxes me. I have short hair, so there’s not a lot of after-shower fiddle with that. The weight-lifting has done wonders for hip and upper back pain, and wrists weakened by frequent tendinitis. Mr Sierra and I go to the same gym, really really helps with regular attendance, we egg/encourage each other on re: getting ourselves there, which I really need since I haaaaate working out at all. We have a light supper before the gym, and healthy snacks at bedtime. I can’t sleep on an empty stomach, so I usually save up some of the day’s calories for that anyhow.

        I envy you about the gym in the building. If there were a pool, too: heaven.

    • I feel the same about lunch hour workouts. Except, I go early. Up at 6:00am, gym is within walking distance of my house – either a quick workout there, or a couple miles run, then back to my home, my closet, my products, a few more minutes with the kids and then out the door by 8:00 or 8:30 to be at work by 9:00 am. I dont get to do spin, yoga classes, etc, but it works.

      At least on my ideal days.

  15. Chicago K :

    I am a big fan of the lunch time work out. Of course, it depends on my work load, sometimes I am so busy I can barely get away to go to the bathroom or eat lunch.

    But for the past month, I’ve been walking to a nearby gym and running for 30 mins at lunch. I shower (with my hair tied up, I don’t wash it) and head back to the office where I then eat lunch at my desk. To save time, I don’t wash my make up off either. I pat my face with a towel, and touch it up if needed. I have a longer walk then most, so all of this takes me about an hour to an hour and a half.

    I made this commitment to myself after realizing I had no problem or guilt blocking out time for Dr’s appointments. Working out is a comparable way of taking care of yourself and lunchtime works best for me. I am never going to get up and drive to the gym in the AM (although in summer months, i will definitely run outside before work) and after work I go to 90 min yoga classes or I am in graduate school classes.

  16. Blonde Lawyer :

    Delta – so you eat dinner at work then and exercise after? My problem is working until 6:30 or 7 most nights I want to get home and eat w/ my husband instead of going to the gym. I also don’t want to go to the gym right after eating unless I’m just doing some weights.

    • Me too, I don’t leave work until 7 pm most days and am usually exhausted by that time. That’s why I work out around 4 pm or so, it breaks up the day, and it’s before dinner so I don’t worry about working out on a full stomach. I love the idea of getting up in the morning and working out but my body doesn’t love it so much.

    • As I said in more detail above, evening workout = just weights, and Mr Sierra and I go together. Light supper before, healthy snacks when back home.

  17. At my old job, I was lucky to have a boss that was pretty flexible on the length of our lunches, so I would come in early, then take a 1 1/2 to 2 hour lunch. Another option would be going for a run in the middle of the afternoon, assuming I had no meetings. It fit with the office culture, and I’ve found that sometimes when I’ve been working on a tough problem, running clears my head, gives me some time to think about it, and I’m much more productive when I get back to the office.

    Here at my new job, they’re much stricter on the lunch breaks, even if you come in early, you’re expected to be gone for no more than an hour at lunchtime, and that’s just not enough time to really feel like I got a good workout in. As a result, I’ve had to switch my workout to early mornings or after work.

  18. I do it a couple times a week. Just take a 90 minute lunch. Leave at 1145, get changed and get ready in time for a noon or 1210 class, work out till 100, get ready and back by 130. I have a flexible job and if I have no meetings, its fine. I find when I do work out at lunch my afternoons are far more productive and I feel more energetic. No post lunch slump.

  19. Ugh. I can’t really make working out mid-day work despite a gym in the building dedicated to my firm. There is no way I could wash my hair, and I’ve smelled too many male partners who didn’t clean up well not to be self-conscious (I’m sure none of you ladies smell). The only thing that works for me is a 5:00 a.m. wake up to go walk/run on the treadmill or outdoors in nicer weather, then shower and get ready for work. If I wait until the evening, it’s just not happening.

  20. When I had a gym in the building, I could fit in a trip at lunch in 1.5 hours. Zip downstairs and change, 20 minutes on the elliptical, 10 minutes of weights, 15 minutes of abs and stretching, and put in my lunch order before hitting the shower. Get dressed, blow dry hair and pick up lunch on the way out, eat at my desk while back at work. 1.5 hours and done! Boy, do I miss having a gym in the building. Really the key to the success was the really nice locker room and showers, though – it was a pleasure to go there.

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