A few years ago, I was in a car accident on the way to work. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but my car had to go into the repair shop for weeks.
And that meant that I had two choices: hitch a ride to work with my husband each morning – despite the fact that we worked on opposite sides of town and had different hours, which made it hard on both of us – or ride my bike to work and back when the weather allowed.
I chose to saddle up, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In fact, it didn’t just make my work routine more eco-friendly: I got so strong on the bike that I used it as part of my training for a triathlon, even leaving early so that I could do a bike-run brick before my work day started.
I was very lucky to have a boss who supported this somewhat crazy routine, and who allowed me to keep a set of supplies – an office fitness toolkit, if you will – at my desk, and allowed me to store my bike in the office so it was safe. And while not every boss or office will be as tolerant as mine, there are some easy ways to make it possible for you to work out before or even during your workday, and still feel clean and fresh.
A toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, face wash and, for ladies, some light face powder can quickly cover up any sweaty signs that you’ve been working out (and if brushing your teeth feels too weird, keep some mints or gum in your desk for post-workout bad breath).
If you don’t want these in plain sight, you can keep a small bag inside your purse, briefcase of desk drawer so you can quickly grab it and take it to the bathroom without calling too much attention to yourself.
And thanks to the magic of dry shampoo, you can even quickly tame any hair flyaways or frizz and make sure everything smells nice, even after a 30-minute sweatfest!
During and after your workout, you’re going to need hydration! I find that keeping a water bottle nearby – or several, so I can rotate them home for cleaning – is key.
This one from Contigo is great. And because habits can take a while to form, it’s really important to have this filled at all times, so you’re not tempted to grab a sugary beverage from the vending machine, or an expensive coffee from the corner shop.
Unless your office has a business casual dress policy, you’re probably not going to be able to work out in the shoes you wore to work in the morning. But lugging sneakers and workout clothes to and from the office each day can be tiring!
Keep a spare pair of fitness shoes at the office – under the desk, if possible – and then you’ll never have an excuse to skip your workout.
A stopwatch or interval timer
Your smartphone is a great option for keeping track of intervals, but I find that it’s easier and less distracting if I use a separate timer (otherwise, I’m tempted to open incoming texts or check for emails!).
Small interval timers are inexpensive and easy to use, and if you only have a very short period of time to get your workout done, they can really help you keep things moving.
I love getting sweaty during an intense workout but in an office, it’s important to clean up quickly – both for yourself and for your poor colleagues who might have to meet with you at the same desk you used for push-ups and tricep dips only moments before!
Keep disinfecting and sanitizing wipes handy to wipe down any surfaces you touch or sweat on during your workout. It gets rid of germs and also helps the place smell fresh and clean.
Foam rollers and massage balls
If you have the space, I highly recommend investing in a foam roller for your office. Self myofascial release – a fancy term for foam rolling – is so important for getting the most out of your workout (and staying healthy and safe).
Sure, people who walk by may wonder what you’re doing (and why you’re moaning – it’s intense!) but maybe they’ll stop in and ask, and then you’ll have a new fitness friend!
No matter what mood I’m in or how much time I have for a workout, music can make a big difference. If I don’t have the energy for intervals or cardio, I can put on some soothing spa music and meditate or do some light yoga. There are also some great health and wellness podcasts out there to inspire you to start moving.
If I’m in the mood for something more challenging, I can pick a playlist that has hard rock or a fast beat to keep me motivated and moving. Either way, a set of headphones will prevent my office-mates from having to plug their ears!
A basic first aid kit
Accidents happen! I’ve gotten rug burn on my knees during push-ups, accidentally scratched myself while doing jumping jacks, and worse. If you have a basic first aid kit ready, you can quickly tend to any small injuries without having to leave the office or ask for help.
A notebook or journal
Keeping track of your workouts and holding yourself accountable is so crucial for sticking with your health and wellness plan. I recommend keeping a small notebook in your office so you can schedule your week ahead, check off workouts you’ve completed, and jot down notes or little pep talks (“You decided to eat the lunch you packed from home instead of eating the pizza the boss ordered in – great work!”).
Do you work out at work? If not, what are you afraid of? Keeping a fitness toolkit in the office may inspire you to feel more comfortable, and remember: you never regret a killer workout once it’s done!