Exercise for teachers | Simply staying in shape

It’s late. You’re tired. The kids/your housemates/colleagues/friends/fill the gap want your attention for the evening. Cook. Eat. Bed. Repeat.

It’s an easy habit to get into and one that’s hard to break, but ignoring exercise for other commitments can quickly take over. One minute you might be shredded, the next it could be a struggle to dash down the corridor and catch a student who left their pencil case in your classroom. Nobody wants that. I certainly didn’t when I wrote about my fitness goals in 2019 and 2020 (LINK).

Making some lifestyle changes to add more fitness to your day is more straightforward than you might think. Here’s my simple routine that fits alongside any day spent teaching. It could revitalise your health and help you take back time for yourself each day.

Automate your must-dos

Step one: find time to exercise. This means cutting down on unnecessary tasks that eat away at your time during the week. As the person in charge of bills in my household, I arranged for my housemate to set up standing orders to send me money for rent, electricity, etc., every month – and I have a direct debit from my account to the various associated companies.

I also have standing orders set up from my spending account to various savings accounts, meaning that I never have to think about putting cash away for a rainy day; that’s all automated. Automation might only save 10 minutes or so every month, but that time quickly adds up. Time that I’m not spending chasing my friend about rent is time that could be spent working out.

Cut down on your need-tos

Step two extends the automation phase: get meal planning. I’ve written a lot about how it’s changed my life already, and how the magic of Bullet Journaling made this possible, but it really has made exercise after work so much more feasible. Every night, I come home to healthy, balanced, delicious meals that take 10 minutes to reheat in the microwave.

Why is this important? Two reasons.

  1. A balanced meal will ensure that you’re putting the correct macros into your body. Achieving any fitness goal is more about your diet than how much you can lift, so sorting this out first and foremost is critical. Plus, failing to sufficiently meal-prep will mean one of two things will happen:
    1. You rely on dodgy takeaways or unhealthy ready meals, both of which are costly;
    2. You quickly prepare healthy, but bland, dinners – like plain chicken, some greens and rice which – be real – nobody actually enjoys. Anyone who claims otherwise is fooling themselves.
  2. It’s a time-saving genie in a bottle for getting on with your after-work tasks. If you no longer ‘need to’ spend an hour preparing a meal, you can use that hour for a half hour workout, 10 minute shower, and an extra 20 minutes for an episode of your favourite show.

It’s a win-win.

Just do your have-to

Now: the routine. The one thing you need to tell yourself, every night, that you have to do. If you want to read up about how to successfully build habits (because we all know that can be tricky), you can learn more about my methods here.

Every week, I aim to workout – in some capacity – three times. Anything extra is just a bonus. During lockdown 3, I went on a daily walk and stuck on a Joe Wicks or MadFit video. These ranged between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on what I was in the mood for or had time to do, and largely focused on HIIT routines that incorporated a set of 10kg weights. Usually, I opted for videos that focused on full-body workouts to ensure I wasn’t neglecting a specific body part. This was really important during lockdown, when I wasn’t always guaranteed to get enough steps – or exercise in general – in.

Outside of lockdown, I would go to my local gym as often as I could and focus on one body part at a time – arms on one day, chest on another, then back and finally legs, with cardio sprinkled in throughout the week. As restrictions continue to ease, I’m planning to return to the gym. I’d like to visit three times a week, to carry on the lockdown regime, and do one home workout a week. This way, I can continue to enjoy less pressure on attaining my fitness goals, am still working towards putting on more weight, and won’t be wasting the yoga mat that I bought. Click here for a cheeky affiliate link to a good quality, budget yoga mat on Amazon.*

In short: automate what you can, prepare your meals in advance where possible and pick a simple workout routine that works for you. Don’t worry about the people lifting gigantic weights if that’s not your cup of tea. Everybody has to start somewhere.

Interested in the workouts that I did? You can find my playlist here.

*I may receive a percentage of the total purchase cost if you buy products using my affiliate links.


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