To find time for a workout when working 80 hour weeks is definitely not easy. Read on for motivation, plus 7 realistic ways to make room for exercising.
To find time for a workout as an investment banker can be difficult
We don’t have an extra hour lying around
When some of the trendiest “fitspiration” people on Instagram give others advice on how to find time for workouts, they usually tell them to cut out an hour of TV to go to the gym. Because “everyone are lying if they’re saying they cannot find an extra hour each day to go to the gym”.
There are so many things that are wrong with that. First of all, going to the gym does not just take an hour. You have to get there, change, do your actual workout, shower, maybe put on new make-up, and then either go home or go back to work.
The second is the implication that you have that spare hour just lying around, not using it for anything. As a student, that was very true for periods of time, but in my busiest weeks in investment banking, finding an hour one day is virtually impossible.
Be realistic about your time
I don’t have an extra hour of Netflix to take from. It’s the same as when women’s magazines give you advice on dieting and fitness “to eat healthier and to lose weight, try having just one piece of cake instead of two”. I’m not having two pieces of cake. Or one for that matter. Give me something I can actually work with here!
You need to be realistic to change anything. If you know you will be stuck in the office most evenings. Either find a different time, or find a way to exercise and then go back to the office.
Hoping and praying that you will be able to squeeze in an hour at the gym every time you get off early, is useless.
Results aren’t just physical
Back when I was younger, I was an athlete, and doing sports gave me an immense amount of joy. I look back at weeks training 20 to 30 hours with both pride and some envy because I will never be able to do that again.
That is a fact of life. Our jobs take time, it will likely always do that, and if we choose to work less, it will probably not be because we want to spend that much time training again.
The first six months in banking, I went from working out every day to not hit the gym for half a year.
I gained weight, I did not get my daily dose of endorphins, and it made me feel out of shape and unhappy.
I had to find something that was doable without taking up too much time. The solutions I found to give me the best chance of working out during a week are listed below.
1. Get a gym next to your office
It saves you time. You can go either in the morning, after work, or pop out between two calls if your evening is not that busy. Eliminating the travel time to and from training actually adds up.
2. Put it on your calendar
Schedule it between those two calls. And I don’t mean just to write out “Go to the gym” and be done with it. In the notes of Outlook, actually put down the exact exercises you are planning on doing, the reps and the weights.
3. Short can be effective
You can likely not just disappear from the office for several hours before you’re very senior. Do a short session.
30 minutes is much better than no gym at all, and HIIT is all the rage nowadays, with several studies implying that the effects from short and intense workouts can be better than the long, traditional gym session1.
I find that going out for a quick workout while pondering over a hard problem, often helps me think more clearly when I come back, and I end up doing my job better afterward.
4. Do it in the morning
It can be yoga in your apartment when you wake up, a quick run, or a trip to the gym before you go to the office. The advantage is that you only need to shower and fix your make-up once that day, eliminating the time you would use if you went to the gym in the middle of the day.
5. Write down a travel program
If you’re traveling for roadshows or meetings, you’re likely stuck at hotels that don’t have the best exercise equipment, and skipping your routine is easy.
Find some simple programs that don’t require any equipment at all. Use that as a back-up when you have long periods of traveling.
6. Go during the weekend
This one is tricky. Even though you most likely work during the weekend, chances are your hours aren’t as long as during the week. However, I end up prioritizing going out with friends. And feeling hungover in the morning is not the best recipe for trying to get in shape.
Try to drink less either Friday or Saturday so one of the mornings can be spent training. And even better, bring a friend so you don’t miss out on socializing.
I am generally not a big fan of multitasking, as it’s ineffective. But if there are things you need to stay on top of continuously, you may need it. A solution is to go to the gym, and just answer all of your e-mails in between sets.
I have also been running on the treadmill while on a call. Of course, this doesn’t work if you actually need to speak or take notes during the call. And if you do, remember for God’s sake to put your phone on mute.
Your output from training will likely suffer, but for me, the endorphins from moving alone can be worth it.