7 Things You Need to Do to Get Fit in 7 Minutes a Day as a Parent
I don’t have time for a consistent gym program. My schedule is too condensed for a personal trainer. I can’t make time for regular group fitness classes. I already get up too early to add a two-hour gym trip in the morning. I work all day, I can’t add hours away from my kids at the end of the day. My lunch-break isn’t long enough for a workout.
The list goes on and on when it comes to adding an effective fitness program to the schedule of parents, both working and non-working. Despite criticisms hurled by meatheads and gym-addicts, they aren’t excuses, they are valid objections to the current fitness paradigm.
The paradigm is the issue.
Fitness isn’t a dedication-competition of who can spend more hours under a bar. It’s a game of minutes.
Everyone Wants to Get Fit
Look, no one wants to be out of shape. Everyone in the world would love to have the best body at the beach. Some people make it more of a priority. Those who don’t aren’t bad or lazy people, they just have other priorities and don’t think they have the time or resources to dedicate to something as superficial as the way their body looks. If there was a magic pill, though, that made everyone look like Zac Effron or Jessica Biel overnight, it would be perpetually out of stock.
What if a fitness program did more than change the way your body looked?
I’m not talking about magically deciding your health and fitness is suddenly more important than time with your kids or your performance at work. That is old, haggard and condescending advice you can find on any gym-rat YouTube motivation compilation.
What you may not have been told by the biggest dude in the gym or read on that “fitspo” Instagram post of the bikini-clad detox-tea peddler, is that you can match fitness to your CURRENT priorities. If your career is number one, think about the performance boosting benefits of consistent exercise. You’ll have more energy physically and mentally, less proclivity to debilitating stress and more able to adapt to spontaneous scenarios that require impromptu, creative problem solving. Physically, you’ll have the ability to race into a conference room or up a flight of stairs to an important meeting without trying to present while also catching your breath, which could be the difference between a sale and a “thanks for your time.”
If you have kids, I hope and assume they at least make the top 5 in your list of priorities! If so, you’ll have more energy and physical ability to play tag or be the “monster” for more than 2 laps around the living room before having to take a “daddy might have a heart attack” break. With less fatigue and unresolved stress, you’ll have more patience for the 18 hours a day your little ones are tap dancing on your last nerve. You’ll also be providing them a valuable life lesson when you lead by example and take time to improve your health.
When you consider the real-life benefits of a consistent fitness program, beyond burly biceps or buoyant bubble-butts, finding a 7-minute window can be a project supercharged with emotion and intention.
LOSE 16 LBS. IN 2 WEEKS! 21-DAYS TO A BEACH BODY! 30 LBS. IN 30 DAYS! 14-DAY SHRED CHALLENGE!
If there’s one cultural modality that marketers have seized upon in the last couple decades, it’s instant gratification. Promising a year’s worth of results right, just now. It’s prevalent throughout society, but never more than health and fitness. Whether it’s building muscle or losing weight (rarely specified as “fat,” I might add), with proper consistency and unyielding determination, these programs offer everything you’ve ever wanted by your next reunion, vacation or holiday.
To be fair, many of them work! They may leave you stranded once you’ve supplied your “after” picture for their ongoing marketing while you wade waist-deep in the scrumptious something’s you’ve been craving throughout the program for a Christian Bale style rebound and recomposition back beyond your starting point, but in the short-term, sure you can lose 16 lbs. in 14 days with rigorous daily exercise and a less than nourishing diet you’ll never manage to continue long-term.
Instead, ignore the marketing. Develop a steady plan for healthy, nutritious meals that allow some room for your favorite indulgences weekly, or even daily. If you are sedentary, just increasing your activity level with consistent exercise and opting for healthier daily choices could bring a 30 lbs. loss in less than a year, without chewing on your nails for the sake of chewing something besides a spinach salad with lettuce garnish and oxygen dressing.
Some people love to exercise, some people don’t mind it, but would rather do something else. Some people absolutely despise it. It’s uncomfortable, monotonous and feels nothing like binge-watching Stranger Things.
To the latter group, it’s important to start shifting perspective, the way you approach and consider exercise. If you don’t enjoy the strain and sweat, remember the reason you decided to start, or want to start, in the first place: your “why.”
If you don’t have a “why,” it’s imperative to find it! Like Nietzsche said “With a strong enough why, you can bear almost any how.” A great way to start finding your “why” is a consult tactic used by most trainers: the “Triple Why.” It goes something like this:
A client says she wants to lose weight.
Why do you want to lose weight?
To be healthier.
Why do you want to be healthier?
I have a daughter.
Why do you want to lose weight for your daughter? I’m sure she loves you regardless of how you look.
My mom was overweight and died before I got married, I really wished she could have been at my wedding and I don’t want my daughter to feel the same.
Suddenly, it’s not about weight loss anymore, it’s an emotionally supercharged reason to do the things that aren’t comfortable for a result that outreaches her physical appearance. You can do the same in a quiet room with a pen and paper. Be honest and dig deep. You might be surprised at just how quickly and harshly your perspective can shift.
Even with a shift in perspective, doing things that make you despise might allow you to hit the snooze button or decide you’re too tired at the end of the day and to be “responsible” you should push your workout to tomorrow.
Traditional exercise, like squats, push ups, lunges etc. are staples in fitness because of their applicability and efficacy. Eventually, you should do them, in one form or another, for the sake of your body’s daily functionality. If you are just starting a fitness program and abhor the idea of laboring through those movements, then don’t! Do something you enjoy! I tend to work with a good sample of middle-aged women who are pursuing weight-loss. They all have different outlooks on traditional exercise, but one constant, one thing they all love all day every day, is dancing! Pick 3 songs you can’t help but move to, and dance your heart out when you have some time alone. Whether you are blasting a stereo or ear buds, carve out some time of solitude and get moving! Eventually, as you find yourself able to dance a little more actively with a little less exhaustion, you can start adding in some booty-dropping squats, some hip-mobilizing Shakira-circles or thigh-burning scissor jumps.
5. Practical Over Optimal
If you are a habitual weight-loss internet surfer, you might find yourself let down by the dedication of time to most highly rated programs; requiring hours in the gym and kitchen that you just don’t have time to spare.
Those programs are rated highly and utilized by thousands because they tackle the body with the most optimal, biologically perfect strategy. Taking into account exact energy dispersal from specific foods geared toward the exact biological response to particular movements, time under tension and target heart-rate zones. Often, casual onlookers read the attention to detail in these programs and slump further into their desk posture, resigning themselves to the eternal pits of disproportionate weight and body fat.
Your program doesn’t need to be perfect to see results. If you only have 7 minutes, then use 7 minutes. If you only have a single kettlebell at home, use that kettlebell. If you have no equipment, then don’t use it (because you don’t have it, you see?). Making the majority of your nutrition choices whole food and dedicating 7 minutes to high-intensity movement will yield infinitely more results than reading about the “best” ways to lose fat and lamenting its lack of practicality in your life.
6. Partition Your Time
You could be the busiest person alive. Your schedule could rival that of Elon Musk, Eric Thomas and Dwayne Johnson combined. You still have minutes somewhere.
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who insist until they are blue in the face that they don’t have time to cook healthy meals in addition to a fitness program, eat healthy meals during the day or do the exercises I schedule for them on Trainerize. Eventually, we find the time, and here’s how:
I ask them to write their schedule, as detailed as possible, so I can write a more time-appropriate program for them. Inevitably, I get a text or email, saying: “I started writing the schedule and realized I have a lot more time than I thought.” Very rarely do I have to make adjustments at all!
Write down your schedule. Every task, including things like commute, and see what you come up with. Even if you honestly detail your schedule and still find you are entirely too busy, I guarantee you’ll find random pockets of 3-5 minutes that can be filled with another task, allowing the free time to be allocated to a single window of solitude that can total 7, undisturbed minutes.
7. Pick a Timing Scheme and Movements
Now that we’ve found a way to change our mindset, our perspective and our schedule to allow for a predetermined exercise window, the final step before doing it, is building it. The more you move in this window, the better off you’ll be, so aim for a higher intensity, rather than a 7-minute walk, if you can.
My two favorite set/rep schemes for this are: AMRAP and EMOM
AMRAP: As Many Rounds As Possible. Pick 3-4 movements with a number of reps that take anywhere from 15-60 seconds to complete in total. This will, obviously, vary individually, but an example could be 5 squats, 10 push ups and 20 jumping jacks. If you are utilizing a different form of exercise like we covered in the Pleasure section, pick a series of dance moves or yoga poses you can easily transition through in one minute. Get through as many rounds as you can in 7 minutes with as little rest as possible.
EMOM: Every Minute On the Minute. For an EMOM workout, you’ll want to select movements and reps per movement that can be completed in 20-30 seconds with your best, fresh effort. Set the timer for 7 minutes, and complete the exercises as quickly as possible, allowing yourself to rest for the remainder of the minute. At the start of the next minute, you’ll repeat the movements. As you get more fatigued, you’ll have less time to rest, so you’ll have a built-in motivator to give your best effort to every round.
Using the squat/push-up/jumping jack example, if the rep-scheme of those movements take you 30 seconds to complete, you’ll rest 30 seconds and when the clock strikes one minute, you’ll do them again. If the second round takes 40 seconds, you’ll have only 20 seconds to rest until the clock strikes two minutes.
In my opinion, you’ll get more bang-for-your-buck tackling a 7-minute full-body blast that incorporates compound movements, or movements that utilize multiple joints (like burpees instead of bicep curls) and the main components of movement: Strength (i.e. squats or lunges), Power (i.e. burpees or squat jumps), Speed (i.e. mountain climbers or high knees) and Flexibility (i.e. toe touches or windmills). Whether you do it every workout or make it cumulative per week, try to incorporate these movement components, rather than relying on one for every workout. I’ll go more in depth into these components in another post.
That’s it, 7 steps to get fit, mentally and physically, with only 7 minutes a day.