Most entrepreneurs know it’s important to work out—not just for the physical rewards like sleeping better and staying in shape, but also for the mental payoffs such as greater stamina and a clearer head.
But even the most dedicated fitness fanatic can sometimes feel torn between the demands of work and the workout: You’re craving your morning run, but you’ve also got a huge project staring you in the face. Wouldn’t it be better to skip the gym just this once and use that time to get a head start on the day?
Good news: It’s not necessarily an either/or situation. Check out these nine ways to make your workout do double duty so you don’t have to choose between being healthy and being productive.
- Work out your day. One of my business partners swears by planning out her day while she does her morning run. She mentally reviews her upcoming schedule, categorizes her day’s priorities and thinks about how she’ll handle important events like an upcoming negotiation with a client.
- Network where you work out. Several gyms near my house are hotbeds of high-powered executives and business owners. It’s a trove of potential business opportunities for savvy B2B entrepreneurs. Even if your company doesn’t sell B2B, a gym that’s populated with businesspeople can be a great place to meet your next investor, business partner or vendor. Don’t be obnoxious (no handing out business cards on the treadmill or in the sauna), but do be alert to the opportunity to meet people who could advance your business, and be prepared to talk about your business when an opening presents itself.
- Work on a brainstorm. During a good workout, your mind goes into a creative space—which can make your workout the perfect time for coming up with new ideas. Whether you’re trying to think of the perfect name for a new product, brainstorm possible outlets to sell it in or dream up a new market, set your mind on the challenge before you start exercising, and you’ll likely be flooded with ideas by the time you hit the showers.
- Work out with your business partner. With a hundred and one things on your to-do list every day, it can be hard to find time to touch base with your business partner(s). Exercising together offers time away from the daily demands of your business, so you can discuss more critical issues, like an upcoming marketing campaign or a nagging employee issue. Choose a moderate workout, like a long walk, that lets you carry on a conversation at the same time.
- Work out during your commute. If you live in a traffic-plagued area like Southern California, your commute might already seem like a marathon. So ditch the car or subway and, depending on the distance, try biking, running or walking to work instead. (Just make sure you have a change of clothes and a shower accessible at the office!)
- Hold working, er, walking meetings. You can get your employees moving too, by holding “walking meetings” outside your office. Got a park with a parcourse setup nearby? Circle it, making stops to do the exercises (and take notes on what you’re discussing). Bonus: Walking usually keeps meetings pretty short—no dawdling over donuts or making small talk when you’re hustling to keep up.
- Work out with clients. Golf or tennis are traditional ways to bond with clients or prospects while getting some exercise in, but think outside the box too. Would a client enjoy a hike, a day on your boat or an afternoon at a rock-climbing facility? If you really want to get fit (and boost your rep), sign up to train for a fitness walk, run, marathon or triathlon with clients.
- Use a “walkstation.” Invest in a treadmill desk. Check out popular options from Steelcase and TrekDesk. Don't want to spend that much money? Use your cell phone instead of your landline (if you still have one of those) and pace around your office or walk up and down the halls or stairs while you're making calls.
- Work on catching up. Grab your smartphone or tablet, and answer emails, scan your e-newsletters or read proposals while you’re on the stationary bike (easy), treadmill (harder) or Stairmaster (hardest).
Really short on workout time? This last option isn’t double-duty, because you won’t be able to focus on anything but gasping for air: Try the Scientific 7-Minute Workout. I promise you’ll feel the results.
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