The Busy Person’s Fitness Guide: How 5 Philly Trainers Find Time to Work Out

Smart tips for how to squeeze a workout into a hectic schedule.



If you’ve ever uttered the words, “I just don’t have time” to explain why you skipped a workout, raise your hand. Yeah, I thought so. We’ve all been there. Some days, life gets hectic, and making it out the front door with brushed hair and teeth is hard enough, let alone making it to the gym.

But if you use that excuse every single day — because you’re busy every single day — you’ll never end up getting your sweat on, and that just won’t work. So to figure out how even the busiest of busy people make time to squeeze a workout into their day, we went to some of the busiest — and fittest — people we know: Philly personal trainers.

We asked five trainers from around the city how they manage to make time to work out, even on days when they have back-to-back clients from dawn ’til sundown. They gave us some great tips, but the piece of advice that popped up over and over again was this: Get it in whenever you can — whether it’s five minutes, 45 minutes, or the one-minute walk to the office bathroom. In other words (the wise words of Instagram memes, to be precise), “You have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé,” so make the most of them. Check out the rest of the trainers’ advice below.

Brian Maher, owner of Philly Personal Training 

“As a personal trainer and business owner, my days are completely scattered and can change at the drop of a hat. I have phone calls to answer, emails to respond to, clients to train and consultations to schedule, all of which can make a 12-hour day fly by. I can easily miss a workout if I don’t make the extra effort to ensure I fit one in. I usually block off a chunk of time on my calendar that cannot be interrupted so I can get my workout in. If you wait until the day of to see when you can squeeze your workout in, it’s probably not going to happen.

“As far as the workout goes, I usually do a workout to accomplish a goal, rather than for a set amount of time. If I can do what I need to do in 20 minutes, that’s all the time I spend in the gym. If I am particularly short on time, I’ll either ramp up the intensity so even a workout as short as 20 minutes seems very difficult, or I’ll use that time to work on muscle groups that, if ignored, can cause injury, like rotator cuffs. The key is to never take a set off: Get the most out of your workout, no matter how long, by concentrating and working hard on every rep.”

Jayel Lewis, owner of JL Fitness 

“I spend most of my day whipping other people into shape, so there isn’t much time left over for my own personal workouts. So my motto is this: Get it in where you can fit it in. I make my workouts a priority by scheduling them during any free time I may have, which can range from 30 to 75 minutes.

“Given my time constraints, my workouts are usually quick, powerful and sweaty, and a combination of strength, agility and flexibility. I’m a firm believer that you must practice what you preach, so that whole ‘I don’t have time’ thing doesn’t fly with me. Make it work.”

Audrey McKenna Hasse, owner of A.M. Fit 

“Fitting a workout into my day is always a priority, so I always think about my day or week beforehand to schedule time to work out; there is usually an hour in my day that I can set aside to workout. Since I travel to people’s houses to train them, I always make sure to pack a bag of workout clothes the night before so that I can get my workout done when I have a chance and get back to work as efficiently as possible. If my workout has to be really early in the morning, then so be it. Staying fit is a priority for me, so if I have to get up a little bit earlier, I know I’ll be happy I did when I’m done!

“I try to switch up my workouts during the week between cardio (usually the elliptical), running, a BeWOW workout or two, and maybe some sprints or intervals. Depending on my schedule for the week, it changes — but being flexible and adapting based on the week helps me stay on track.”

Holly Waters, owner of Fitness Alive

“Loving fitness is one thing; finding time for fitness is another! But we all know it is a necessity, so even though I work off of all my wonderful clients’ schedules, I still insist on holding myself accountable to my own workouts.

“I use Sunday as a big scheduling day. I look at the week ahead and see where there are gaps. My schedule changes daily so I have to be ready for a cancellation or someone finding time in their schedules to come see me. I try to book at least one class online so I have it paid for and it is set in stone, and schedule one workout with a friend so I am accountable to someone else.

“Other tricks I have: I have been running to the park with my dog Franklin before work and doing kettlebell swings in the morning while he inhales his breakfast. I try to get to my classes early so I can either back squat, dead lift or get on the rower before class starts. Lately, the people in my boot camp class at CrossFit PHL have been coaching me! They know I am getting married so they always challenge me to do at least one of the intervals with them during class. If I think I can get to one of CrossFit PHL’s classes in the afternoon, I text the owner Joey Renzi to let him know so if I am not there he can give me shit. I get to swim lessons early and see how many laps I can do before my lesson gets there; if I only have five minutes, at least I can I do some butterfly sprints. My mode of transportation is my bike, so I ride as fast as I can from South Philly into Center City. When I’m going East to West I ride out of the seat, and North to South, I’m in the seat.

“It’s all about grabbing the opportunity. I always tell clients to do squats every time they run to the restroom at work or to do jumping jacks to wake up when they are crashing throughout the day. You can always find room for a workout somewhere throughout the day — just get creative and make it happen!”

Perry O’Hearn, owner of Philly Phitness

“I am often asked, ‘How and when do personal trainers fit in their workouts?’ I believe the answer is quite simple: There is no difference between a personal trainer, CEO of a fortune 500 company, stay at home mother, or student. We are all given the same 24 hours in a day, and if something is a priority in your life you find time — otherwise you find excuses. I have no excuse to be unhealthy, so I prioritize my workouts.”

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