Hands up whoever feels that 3pm slump? That mid-afternoon dead zone where you’re crashing from a full morning and a tasty lunch, and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open?
I was always so prone to these crashes. Between the hours of 3pm - 4pm I was barely alive. There in body, not in spirit. Or brain. And it wasn’t until I started working out at lunch where I figured what was going wrong.
You can try avoid heavy foods at lunch to stave off that slump but when you’re at a desk all day and you don’t get away from the computer on your lunch break, it can leave you feeling more sluggish than our slimy pests in the garden.
I found myself surfing the web (mainly on BuzzFeed which doesn’t exactly rejuvenate your psyche) and trundling outside for a quick walk to the shop for lunch bits… but it just wasn’t enough to brush off the cobwebs and return to the desk refreshed.
How I became a lunchtime workout warrior
My first lunchtime workout
A few years ago, I worked at a large company in the centre of Bristol. Whilst they weren’t lenient in giving longer lunches for well-being (unfortunately many companies don’t allow this), I was in the centre of Bristol so could look up nearby lunchtime workouts - there was a huge selection on MoveGB.
I needed something close and no longer than 45 mins so I could pelt it back to my desk without raising the eyebrows of my managers. I found a boxing workout but I had 5 mins to get there, do the 45 min workout, then somehow find the energy in my knackered body to pace it back in 5 - 10 minutes….
I was pretty stressed with knowing I had such a tight time frame to get this done, but I managed to get my workout done and get back to my desk in time. Albeit very sweaty. But it felt so good to finish work for the day and know that I didn’t have to go work out - I had done it all in the my working day! All I had to do was relax and have me time after the craziness of the day… but I knew I had to do some more prep in order to get in a lunchtime workout.
Checklist for your lunchtime workouts
Bring a packed lunch to work or be sure to hit up the supermarket before you start the day. You won’t waste time queuing in Sainsbury’s for your sandwich in peak lunch rush hour.
Dry shampoo, deodorant and wet wipes - if you only have an hour for lunch, you have no time to shower. A bit gross but there are some hygiene hacks you can do to get around this.
Treat the workout like a meeting. Have it booked into your day and be aware of when you have to leave the office. Don’t get distracted or miss your slot.
Check with your manager if it’s ok if you’re 10 - 15 mins late from lunch. I’d rather make it up at the end of the day then drag my tired body to the gym after work.
Becoming a full-blown lunchtime workout warrior
I tried to cram in my lunchtime workouts when I could, but it wasn’t until I started working at a company which allowed you to take longer lunch breaks for workouts when my warrior status levelled up. I began to get into a good routine and jeez, have I felt the benefits!
As I work in Bath but live in Bristol, my MoveGB membership gave me the freedom to workout in either city. It became a staple that I would workout on my lunch breaks in Bath at venues within a 10 minute walk from the office and then when working from home in Bristol, I would usually go for an after work fitness session. Or a weekend yoga or BOXHIIT session.
I am a full believer that variety keeps you motivated to continue working out, so having this absolute fitness freedom has worked wonders in transforming my attitude to fitness. It’s become a habit rather than a chore.
If I find myself at my desk all day without time to get a solid hour away from the desk working up a sweat or stretching out the kinks, then I could feel the effect it had on my mental state and productivity. And when I find myself getting bored with a workout, I only have to jump on the MoveGB app and find an alternative around the same.
My typical week of lunchtime workouts
Monday: Gym at YMCA or Yoga at Yoga Bodhi
Eugh, getting through a Monday alive is the main aim but usually a gym session is what I’d go for. I can go at my own pace and just get my body moving to wake up properly for the week. But if I’m pretty low on energy after a Sunday session, then a yoga class really helps bring me back to life.
With Bath Leisure Centre close to my work, I try to get booked onto this incredible sweat-tastic workout. It targets your entire body using body weight exercises or light weights. But it’s super popular so I have a back-up workout of Circuits at YMCA after work in case I can’t get onto the lunchtime session.
Wednesday: Yoga, The Hive, Bath
Huzzah! I’ve made it half-way through the week. If I’ve had an intense workout the day before, yoga really can help me stretch out any DOMS and also centre my brain if it’s been a hectic week. But if I didn’t make it to the gym on Monday, then I’ll substitute that in.
Thursday: BodyPump, YMCA Bath
These weights workouts have completely changed my view of weights! I’m an absolute convert to BodyPump and can see how it has improved my performance in other workouts - I’ll try to never miss one of these sessions. Find out more about the benefits of BodyPump here.
Friday: Yoga, Space 238 Bristol
I usually work from home on a Friday so I’m in Bristol aka yoga central. I love this studio and their teachers are trained to a high degree. So I’ll either run over to Easton at lunch or go after work, depending on how busy my day is.
In a perfect world, I’d hit all these workouts but life isn’t usually that straight forward. I can adjust and change my schedule depending on my workload. Sometimes meetings pop-up or impending project deadlines can scupper things, but I aim to try stay as active as possible. And having some kind of proposed schedule or structure to my fitness really helps me with keeping a routine!
The pros of my lunchtime workouts
1. Energy and productivity:
As mentioned before, I found my energy levels a real issue before beginning lunchtime workouts. Post-lunch, I found my productivity and attention really dissipated and it took me a good while to get back on track… it was frustrating. But After getting a sweat on at lunch, I felt revitalised with endorphins. My brain was ON again!
2. Stress levels reduced:
What is more effective for stress levels: sat around in the same environment you’ve been in all day or getting out the office and working out any frustrations? Being trapped at our desk all day isn’t good for our bodies or souls. Getting away and focusing on yourself for an hour can really impact your stress levels.
3. Reclaim my evenings:
If I left my workouts to after work, I would feel my evenings would be non-existent if I was to try fit in a workout. Especially with my commute home. But once I’ve done my lunch session, I was free as a bird once I clocked off.
If it wasn’t for MoveGB, I wouldn't be able to have such fitness freedom under one monthly membership for my current lifestyle and working schedule. And now I’ve got my routine, I’m addicted!
There’s nothing better than feeling a sense of achievement after a full day. And once you’ve smashed your day, sitting on your butt in the evenings watching Netflix or at the pub doesn’t evoke as much guilt.