What is the number one excuse people use for not getting enough exercise? You guessed it: not having enough time. I have to remind you, though, that we all have the same amount of time in a day. We just prioritize how we are spending that time differently, according to our values, goals, life-circumstances, and seasons we are in. Commonly found in the top three to five priorities for most people is health and well-being. We know that if we are feeling well and able to physically do the things we want to do with ease and without dis-ease, life is so much more enjoyable.
Over the past twenty years of my career in fitness and wellness, the common attribute of about 95% of my clients has been that their life purpose involves being an exceptional care-provider. This is not surprising since pretty much all my clients have been mothers and/or healthcare workers. Prioritizing time for self-care is what I always encourage my clients and audience to do. By doing this, they will be better at providing care to others. While knowing this is one thing, doing it is another!
Instead of prioritizing self-care, it all-to-often is one of those things that gets done only if there’s time.
I can be guilty of this myself. Recently I got sick. On day 11 when I was still feeling congested, my dad asked me if I was okay because I looked tired and worn down. Honestly, that is one of the worst things I want to hear someone tell me. He might as well have said, “Brooke, you look old and frumpy.” While his intention was to show concern, and I appreciate that, it really made me reflect on how I could have done better to heal properly. I told him that moms don’t always have the luxury of being able to heal properly when they are sick because they still have work, taking care of kids, maintaining the house, etc, so that we don’t disrupt the lives of those we serve. (I’m just being honest.) Maybe that’s not how it is for all moms, but many of my friends can relate to this because we talk about it a lot.
How might it be possible for moms to give themselves what they need for daily self-care AND be exceptional care providers?
While there are endless possibilities, the one we’re going to focus on today is one of my favorite strategies….
The 20-minute Workout!
For the past ten years, I have been teaching 15 and 20 minute exercise classes at a large hospital that is a level one trauma center with nearly every bed full every day. Needless to say, I welcome people to class late, and there are frequent disruptions during classes while participants are paged by their colleagues. I appreciate the effort that people make to get away for 10-30 minutes during their work day to exercise, whether in a group setting or on their own.
Given this experience working in a hospital setting and being a mom of four young kids, I have grown to love the 20-minute workout concept. Please allow me to give you my specific reasons so that I can persuade you to embrace this idea as well.
5 reasons why I love 20 minute workouts
1. They give you a sense of accomplishment.
The reason we started offering the shorter exercise classes was because it made them seem more accessible to staff who were lucky to get 30 minutes away for a break. Time for walking to the fitness center and back, and quickly grabbing something to eat also needed to be factored in. It feels good to be able to attend a class from start to finish. Rather than one longer class, we instead offer two or three 15 to 20 minute classes in a row. Some people do one class, some do two, and some do all three, depending on their schedules. With shorter classes, there is not a wasted moment. We start and end on time and work very efficiently.
Some of our members come down and do a quick workout on the cardio and strength equipment, and some do a virtual workout through their phones. There is something about being able to say that you did a full workout or a full class that gives a positive mental boost and a feeling of success and accomplishment. This makes you want to do it again the next day, and the next until a positive habit is formed! If our healthcare workers would have the mentality that a workout needs to be 30-60 minutes, they would frequently be disappointed in themselves.
2. They are easier to fit into your schedule, no matter how full it is.
Here is a great strategy for you to try. Take out your schedule, and give it an intentional look. Write out everything you do in your days from the time you wake until the time you fall asleep. Find every single 15 or 20 minute pocket that is available in your schedule. Of these, determine which might be feasible for a workout, even if it’s a brisk walk and doing some stair climbing. When we break things down into manageable pieces, we feel less overwhelmed and more excited to see how this small change can enhance our lives. If you cannot find any pockets available, then look at what things you might be ready to remove so that you can incorporate self-care in the form of exercise.
3. You tend to give a better effort.
When you know exactly when the workout will start and end and that it will be just 20 minutes, you give yourself this little pep talk like this: “Here we go…I can do this…Just stay focused and work hard and this workout will be done….Do every single rep with my best form so I can get the results I want….It’s only 20 minute, I’ve got this!” While you can still work incredibly hard in a 20 minute workout, the chance of fatigue is lessened so that form and technique can be higher quality.
4. There is an opportunity for greater versatility.
Perhaps you have a little extra time on a given day so you decide to do two, 20-minute workouts. The first one might be focused on cardio and the second one might be a yoga workout to help you relieve your tight muscles that could use a little release and strengthening. Instead of doing one longer cardio workout, you get two shorter workouts with a larger variety of benefits.
5. Attention spans have shortened.
We have known for a long time that children naturally have short attention spans. Thanks to technology, adults’ attention spans have shortened radically as well. To stay focused and present during a long workout is incredibly challenging, unless you are working with a coach or a trainer who will give it their all to keep you on task. Mentally preparing yourself to stay focused for 20 minutes is more practical in this age of frequent disruptions from our phones, kids, work, etc. If you are a mom at home with kids and want to do a quick 20 minute workout, for example, it is easier to either have the kids join you for the workout or be engaged in another activity for 20 minutes. You can complete the full workout and feel accomplished!
Those are my top five reasons why I have grown to love the 20 minute workout. Using this concept, I encourage you to consider one small change in your life so that you can experience the benefits of exercising consistently, even if just for 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes at a time. The next time you try to talk yourself out of exercising because you don’t have the time, I urge you to change your mindset into believing that any amount counts and will move you in a positive direction.
In order to support you with this, my YouTube channel has a library of two types of videos.
Fit Mom Moments– These are brief, two to seven minute moments that will guide you through an exercise to enhance your mind, body, and/or spirit. They range from dancing to journaling and many things in between. A new Fit Mom Moments video is posted about twice per month.
20 Minute Workouts– These have a theme based on the modality of exercise, the type of equipment used, or it’s intention for how you will feel. A new 20 minute workout is posted twice per month and is made available for a limited amount of time (opposite of the Fit Mom Moment weeks) Subscribe to my channel so that you are alerted each time a new video is posted.
Beginning February 1, 2022:
The Fit Mom Connection Virtual Exercise Class Membership
Be inspired to exercise knowing that you will receive guidance for doing the most effective exercises for mothers. This membership will give you access to live and onDemand virtual classes of a variety of types offered at various times for various lengths. If you’d like to be notified about any of the updates regarding classes, sign up to receive my Motivation Monday weekly email for a dose of inspiration and links to the latest from Fit Mom Connection.
If I have you convinced that 20 minute workouts are where it’s at, give one of my featured workouts a try. Thanks for taking time for self-care so that you can give your best to others.
Just have a few minutes right now? Join me and let’s dance!