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Weight Management : Fit In Fitness When You're Crunched for Time

Kristy Eppley Rupon

Working out during the work day can be a challenge. But with children and other commitments, it's the only time many people can find to fit fitness into their schedules. Anne Wright, owner of Hampton Hill Athletic Club, started this year offering lunchtime classes in yoga, weights and spinning. "It's just been crazy busy," Wright said. "More people are finding that that's been a convenient time." Wright said finding time to work out before or after work can present a problem for those with a family and a full-time job. "Most people have off for lunch," she said. "You go back to work with more energy."

Here are some tips from Wright, other Columbia-area fitness experts and regular exercisers on how to bring fitness into your workweek schedule:

GYM OR TRAINER

Even if you can't make it to a class, if you go to the gym for your lunch break, trainers say you should make the most of your time there. "So many people will walk around a gym, understandably so, and not know what to do and waste a lot of time," Wright said. Hiring a personal trainer to show you the ropes, even for just a couple of sessions, can give you the knowledge to make most of your workout, fitness experts said. Some people stick with a personal trainer for motivation or direction on how to mix up their routines to make the most of their workouts, said Brandon Rabon, a part-time personal trainer in Irmo. Rabon said a lot of people start off doing too much or too little, get discouraged and give up. A trainer can help you get off to the right start, he said, by setting up a program tailored to your personal needs.

COMPANY-SPONSORED

Check with your employer to see if they offer special programs such as extended lunches for people wishing to work out during the day or reduced memberships to a gym. After all, fostering good health among employees should lead to lower health insurance costs. Many of the programs are free or low-cost. Rabon said Time Warner Cable, where he works full time, allows 15-minute breaks throughout the day for people who want to take a walk or stretch. Some employers even have fitness centers in their buildings and offer classes for employees, making working out especially convenient.

Becky Baker, a 38-year-old administrative assistant at the Nelson Mullins law firm, uses the employee gym to do 30 to 45 minutes of cardio or weight training three to five times a week during her lunch hour. "My mornings and evenings are geared strictly toward being a wife and mom. Working out during my workday gives me the break I need during an otherwise chaotic routine to better myself mentally and physically," she said.

ON YOUR OWN

Even if you can't afford to go to a gym or hire a personal trainer, there are plenty of steps you can take on your own at the office to get fit. "Use the tools you have around you," said Toinette Reed, owner of Brickhouse Gym in Columbia. She advised taking walking shoes to work and walkingaround the building at lunch instead of sitting in the breakroom or at your desk or go up and down a flight of stairs. Consider parking farther away to get a few more steps in your routine.

Also you can lift small items you have around the house instead of buying weights. As long as another adult or older child is at home, get up half an hour earlier and go for a walk or run around the neighborhood before the children wake up. Rabon said you can also get great tips from fitness magazines or their Web sites. For example, Men's Fitness or Oxygen usually give you workouts you can do at home. If you can, buy a heart-rate monitor and walk around your neighborhood, he said. Check with your doctor or fitness consultant, but in general, most people want to keep their heart rate around 120 to 130 to burn the most fat. A cheaper trick, Rabon said, is to wear a watch and check your pulse as you walk. If you are at 20 beats per 10 seconds, that's the general target range for most people. "If you're not sedentary, your body's going to burn calories," Reed said. "The key is moving and once you start moving then everything kind of falls into place and you start losing weight."

Reach Rupon at (803) 771-8308.

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Copyright © 2008, The State, Columbia, S.C. date: Oct 6, 2008
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