Fitting Fitness Into Your Day
Too busy to find time for a workout? Here are some ideas for incorporating physical activity while you're on the job.
May 7, 2015
Kelly Colbourne was so focused on building her business when she started her real estate career in 2005 that she neglected to make time to take care of herself. To accommodate the long hours and hectic pace of the job, she would snack on the go, making meals out of things like fresh-baked cookies at new-home construction offices. Her weight eventually climbed above 200 pounds, and that’s when she knew she needed to make a change.
Squeeze In a Workout
About 100 practitioners submitted to REALTOR® Magazine their solutions for squeezing in physical fitness into their busy workdays. Here are some of their ideas:
Hold a contest: Set up a workplace wellness challenge over a week or month under a theme, such as “Fixin and Football,” a 21-day challenge to lose weight and score a favorite NFL or college football team T-shirt. Elizabeth J. Leos with RE/MAX Alliance Greeley in Arvada, Colo., helps to set up such workplace challenges by creating a private group on Facebook so that she and her peers can have greater accountability and support as they all stretch toward a common fitness or nutrition goal. The winner’s reward could be monetary or just bragging rights. If you need inspiration for your own office fitness challenge, check out 30DayFitnessChallenges.com for ideas.
Quick downtime workouts: Colbourne loads 10-minute workout videos on her iPad and has them ready to go when she finds a short period of downtime in the day. The workouts are simple enough as to not make her too sweaty during the day. Colbourne prefers Natalie Jill Fitness videos on YouTube. If she squeezes in three of them, she will have accomplished 30 minutes of exercise for the day. “I’ll sneak in squats while waiting for clients,” she says.
Get out of your chair: Standing burns more calories than sitting, so you can fit in physical activity even when you’re stuck at your desk. Andrew Gavin with Zimkin Realty in San Diego swapped out his desk chair for a standing desk, which keeps him on his feet and encourages less sedentary behavior during the day.
Make meetings more active: Catch up with your co-workers over a long stroll in your farming area. Jane Lowell with Max Broock, REALTORS® in Birmingham, Mich., will walk two to three miles twice a week with two other real estate agents. “Not only do we get some fitness in but we discuss our current business and what’s in store for the week and weekend for us. It gives us a chance to catch up and plan,” Lowell says.
Ditch the car: For your next nearby appointment, grab your bike. “As an REO agent, I did many of my property checks via bicycle and also would sometimes ride home from the office [40 miles],” says Joslyn Panka Solomon with Century 21 Moline Realty Inc. in Cambridge, Minn.
Promote yourself with your workout: Philanthropy can get you moving as well as help spread your good name in the community. Samantha Mead Williams with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations in Spanish Fort, Ala., participates in fundraising runs with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She also has participated in the St. Jude Memphis2Mobile relay, which takes runners from Mobile, Ala., to Memphis, Tenn.
Take a break: Schedule time in your day to step away from work for 30 minutes or an hour, whether that’s in the morning or afternoon. Book your exercise time as an appointment within your day. Some days, Stephanie Granlund with RE/MAX Preferred Properties in Oakton, Va., will wake up at 6 a.m. to work until 11, and then go for a swim during her lunch break. On other days, she’ll exercise in the morning before work. “I think the key to sticking with it is that working out is an integral part of my life,” she says. “It has to get done, and it isn’t negotiable.”
“Health-wise, I was miserable,” recalls Colbourne, a sales associate with Century 21 Baytree in Rockledge, Fla. “I felt sluggish and exhausted all the time.”
The transformations Colbourne made in her lifestyle helped her lose more than 100 pounds over two years. She started adding hip-hop, Zumba, and toning exercise classes to her schedule at least two times a week; eating a more balanced diet that includes more high-fiber foods; carrying healthy snacks with her during the workday, such as apples and nuts; increasing her water intake (she buys gallon water jugs to drink during the day); and squeezing in exercises during downtime, such as calf raises or squats while scanning documents or making copies.
Colbourne has kept the weight off since 2012.
“I’ve learned it’s definitely doable to have work-life balance in real estate,” she says Colbourne. “I’m not as exhausted as I was back then. I’m happier with my career and myself, and I’m more confident.”
Finding time to incorporate some physical activity into your day isn’t just about keeping your body healthy. It can also help you perform better at work. Researchers have linked exercise to improved memory, concentration, and mood, as well as lower stress levels. Realizing that boost to workers’ well-being, more brokerages are weaving in fitness talks at conferences and even staff meetings.
Dana Mauro, a broker at two RE/MAX offices in Brick and Lavallette, N.J., teaches other agents the importance of “me time” every day, “whether it’s an hour of cardio, weight training, or just taking 15 minutes to yourself,” she says. Mauro is also a bodybuilding competitor who has been nationally qualified by the National Physique Committee. “Once you feel good, you will go out and do great things. The root always starts with the agent.”
Getting involved with the local fitness community can also lead to finding new business. Lorie Couch, and agent with Coldwell Banker-Bullard Realty in Jackson, Ga., has gotten leads just from wearing a real estate-branded T-shirt while working out at a gym. She’s also started a walking group in her community whose route takes them by listed homes in the area.
Emily Danner, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Johnson City, Tenn., set out to power walk 2,013 miles throughout the year in 2013, which sparked the curiosity of her clients. She started using the hashtag #powerwalker in her social media business channels.
“It resonated with people,” says Danner, who lost 70 pounds 12 years ago and has kept the weight off. “I believe showing the commitment and discipline to do a fitness goal — like walking the same miles as the year in 2013, doing the Navy SEAL challenge [a series of physical fitness challenges, such as running and swimming] in 2014, and now training for a Super Spartan [an eight-mile obstacle course/mud run] — show my potential and present clients that I am the type of go-getter person they want working for them.”
Fitness is also a great way to expand your sphere of influence. When Steve Strode, a broker with Meadows Group Inc., REALTORS® in Portland, Ore., relocated there from Wisconsin, he found fitness became not only a way to stay in shape but also to meet others.
“As a way of meeting people and creating a sphere, joining a running group was an integral part of it,” Strode says. “You get to know people really well over one- to four-hour runs and build deep and lasting connections.” He’s even there for his clients to cheer them on in reaching their own fitness goals. He served on the pace crew for one of his clients who was completing his first marathon.
“This job is crazy and, at times, very stressful,” says Samantha Mead Williams with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations in Spanish Fort, Ala. Mead has tried a mix of fitness routines, everything from boot camp workouts, Zumba, and Pilates to Crossfit. “If it was offered on Groupon, I bought it,” she says. Her best fitness secret is to commit to doing one physical activity a day, five days a week — any activity, length, time, speed, or location.
Exercise, she says, can be thought of as that “little timeout where we can turn off our professional voices and escape into our inside voices, pushing that reset button and finding strength and confidence in a nice long run or new squat program. For me, its just a little reminder that I can do more than just write contracts and drive carpool. It is a palpable way to realize your capabilities are self-set, and the ability to grow comes with effort.”