When you’re self-employed, there are lots of things that can fall by the wayside because you’re keeping on top of work - seeing friends, housework, and, more often than not, getting to the gym.
But fitness is important for your mental as well as physical health. We spoke to Jane Seely, a fitness instructor - and Simply Business customer - from Northamptonshire, for her top tips on how to keep fit when you’re super busy.
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1) Understand your goals
According to Jane, one of the most important parts of your fitness journey is to have a firm set of goals. It can be hard enough to motivate yourself when things are going well, but having a note of your reasons for being more active can really help making sure you stick to it when you don’t feel motivated.
“Write down three goals. They can be anything from weight loss through to helping with low mood and increasing energy levels” says Jane, “If it ever gets to the point where you just don’t want to work out, come back to those goals and remember why you’re doing this.”
2) Find out what works for you
Everyone is different, and what works for someone else might not work for you. When it comes to fitting things in with your schedule and finding a form of exercise you enjoy, it might take a little experimentation.
“A mixture of cardio and strength training is best to maintain and improve fitness, but there are loads of different ways you can do them. Walking, running, zumba, spin and swimming are all great forms of cardio, and if you’re sceptical about weight lifting, try out a class like BodyPump. This muscular endurance workout burns a huge amount of calories, whilst shaping, leaning and toning the body.”
“You have to be resilient,” she adds, “If you’re having a hard time by yourself, think about working out with others. You could join a running club, find someone to buddy up with or start taking exercise classes.” However you do it, don’t get stuck in a rut doing the same thing week in week out. Shake it up, by changing your workouts every couple of weeks. The body constantly needs new challenges in order to change.
3) Consider professional advice
One of the hardest parts of improving your fitness is knowing where to start. With so much misinformation out there, Jane suggests taking some professional advice - “Just like you would for your business.”
“You don’t necessarily have to fork out for 10 personal training sessions,” she says, “But most gyms will have an induction process and gym floor staff can help you get started.”
4) Make it a job and it’ll become a habit
Being self-employed you already know how to be disciplined with your time. Jane’s advice is that you start seeing your fitness routine as part of your job.
“It has to be part of your to-do list,” she says, “Say you have four clients that you have to allocate time for. Think of your workout as another client and plan accordingly. If you don’t have it written down as a diary appointment then it’s a lot easier to let things slide.”
“After a while you’ll get so accustomed to it that you’ll feel out of sorts if you don’t work out!”
5) Track your progress
Whatever you’re looking to tackle, whether it’s fatigue, your body shape, or getting yourself out of a rut, things won’t miraculously change overnight. But once you start to see results, it will motivate you to keep going.
It’s important to track your progress so you can see things changing, according to Jane. Don’t get hung up on weighing yourself three times a week. The results are in how your clothes suddenly start to fit. However if daily tracking is for you, consider investing in a Smartwatch or Fitbit. With so much else to think about, having something that will automatically let you know how things are going can be invaluable.
6) How busy are you, really?
It’s very easy for us to tell ourselves we’re just too busy to work out, but as Jane points out “One of the best things about being freelance or self-employed is that you can work how you want to.”
“You’re the boss. You can work flexibly. Find the time. A 45 minute workout is less than 5% of your day.”
Of course, travelling to the gym does make things a little more time consuming, but there are plenty of other ways of working out. If you’re the kind of person who much prefers group exercise, you can try a program like Les Mills On Demand, Jane suggests, which gives you access to all the Les Mills classes from the comfort of your home.
7) There’s more to fitness than just exercise
While exercise is important for keeping our minds and bodies healthy, fitness requires a holistic approach.
As hard as it can be, especially when you’re starting up a business, getting a good night’s sleep is really important - “You’re not going to give your all, to your workout or your business, if you’re tired.”
“It’s also important that you eat well. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a must, and your body needs protein, especially if you’re exercising a lot.”
While home cooking can feel like another serious time sink, Jane stresses that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Preparing meals in advance, or even buying pre-prepared vegetables for those times when you’re really busy, can help minimise the task.
8) And there’s more to life than just fitness
As much as it can feel like it, life isn’t all about work, and it’s definitely not all about work, clean eating and exercise. You are allowed to take a break and treat yourself, just be controlled about it.
“There’s a difference between taking the weekend off and just avoiding exercise and healthy eating all together,” Jane says, “but above all, it’s important strike the right balance. You’re doing this because you want the best for your mind and body - not to punish them!”
Jane Seely is founder of Thinkfit. She is a level 2 qualified fitness professional, who specialises in delivering highly motivating group exercise classes in South Northamptonshire, including RPM and Body Pump. She is also an experienced career coach and has a particular interest in the benefits of linking success in individual’s work productivity with their personal fitness levels.
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