It is another busier-than-busy day. However, you manage to carve out an hour between running to and from your kid’s soccer practice, making dinner, and completing deadlines for a presentation at the office or school in order to squeeze in a good workout. It is days like these that require your most focus. With only an hour to spare, you throw your gym bag in the car and drive to your local City Sports Club. You think to yourself, “Ah…I made it!” (This is in most cases half the battle for some of us.)

You find some unoccupied equipment in the gym, and on to the elliptical machine you go! Five minutes into getting in a good rhythm, your phone alerts you of a work email you feel obligated to answer immediately. Ten minutes later, you glance at a series of social media notifications that momentarily redirect your attention. You have now found yourself twenty-five minutes into what was only supposed to be a fifteen-minute warm up to ensure there was still time to weight train.

Hurriedly, you find your favorite pump-up playlist and rush to the weight floor. Having successfully gotten through the first two sets of your arm and shoulder workout, your mind gets distracted…yet again. Instead of a one to two-minute rest in between reps you’re now taking five to seven minutes to glance at the latest talk show on the overhead television. Do these momentary distractions sound remotely familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, we have all been there!

That one hour, with its various distractions, speaks to a greater challenge many of us still face, the art of being present. We can see how easily life’s demands try to impede on our productivity not only at the gym but in our day-to-day lives. So how do we keep from allowing our attention to be pulled in multiple directions? Is it even practical, and what are the benefits?

We hope to unpack what it means to be truly present, how it increases our productivity, and how you can practice implementing it in your own life. So, take a deep powerful breath in, release any and all distractions keeping you from being right here in this moment—exhale slowly. Now, let’s dive into mindfulness!

We can all attest to those more-than-hectic-days where free-time to unwind is seemingly obsolete! However, in the chance where you can squeeze in some “me time” towards fitness, here is a focus-driven type of workout that will allow you to maximize on time and effort. For those who get easily distracted at the gym, consider the tips below.

Step one:  The Out of Sight, Out of Mind Approach

If you can, set your phone on airplane mode, to stop notifications from alerting you. That way, you won’t be tempted to answer emails, texts, or checking your social during your dedicated workout time.

Step two: Quality over Quantity Workouts

Set your attention on completing a quality workout, one that challenges you to maximize on your time.

For example, applying HIIT or high-intensity interval training is a great solution for those wanting to get an effective workout on a time crunch.

30-minute HIIT Workout Sample

Complete as many reps as possible (AMRAP):

Part 1 (15 minutes)

  • 10 Air Squats
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • 10 alternating lunges (5 each leg)
  • 20 toe taps
  • 40 jumping jacks (or jump rope)
  • 20 bicycle crunches

Part 2: (15 minutes)

*Grab a pair of dumbbells

  • 10 bicep curls
  • 15 shoulder press
  • 10 hammer curls
  • 15 overhead triceps extension
  • 10 pushups
  • 15 renegade rows

HIIT training is not only a great way to let off some endorphins but is a great way to practice being present! You are not only utilizing the most of your time at the gym but conditioning your mind to focus on areas of importance in your overall life. Now, imagine applying these same principles to other areas of your life that require you to not only show up but to be present. Sometimes being present means turning off the distractions, or intentionally allotting a specific time frame to complete that work assignment, or focus on family time, and any other important obligations.

Being present doesn’t have to stop at your workout, nor is it only found in quiet yoga classes. Being present requires disciplining the mind while simultaneously living in a world that demands the most out of our time. We can’t always control how much time we have for ourselves, but we can control how we choose to spend it. If we can effectively use thirty minutes out of our day to devote our best towards the gym, reading, or being in complete stillness and removing technology, we will soon see impactful changes towards our overall health.

The Takeaway

The practice of being present aids us to focus on what is happening right now. It distances us from the expectations of our future and keeps us from being overwhelmed by our past. Moving forward, we encourage you on those busier-than-busy days, to empower yourself by not only showing up but being present. Applying these tips in and outside of the gym will only help in increasing your overall productivity and encourage you to live in the now.