Customize your workout to fit your schedule and stay motivated


Young man doing pushups at home

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Thinking about skipping your workout today? Think again. Whether you’re pressed for time, feeling grumpy or just bored with your usual exercises, you can still have a fast, fun and effective workout. The key is finding short routines that you can mix and match to create a program that fits your life. Follow these three simple steps and get inspired. Just remember, talk to your physician before getting started.


Step one: Start with a speedy, warming cardio routine

I get it. You have to get to work/need five more minutes of sleep/just got home and had the commute from hell and can’t even think about doing more than dragging your sorry self to bed. Don’t overload yourself by committing to some grand, hour-long production. Promise yourself three minutes. That’s one pop song or a commercial break. You can do this.

Exercise videos provide guidance and motivation, and I love finding a trainer with whom I really click. Here are two of my favorite fast workouts. When I need a shot of positivity, I turn to Erin Stutland, creator of the Sweat Session workout, which blends cardio with positive affirmations. A bit hippy dippy? Perhaps, but just a few minutes with Stutland will lift me out of a funky mood or creative slump almost instantly. Try this Shrink Session workout from Style Me Fit, or sign up for a free workout on Stutland’s website.

If I’m feeling a little more flirtatious, I turn to trainer Adam Rosante, a master of the quick workout. Remember that “$h*t! I’m Late For Work” CosmoBody workout I told you about in my Skip The Gym article? Well, it’s available on CosmoBody’s YouTube page and is everything I could ever want in a workout. Rosante’s teasing banter chiding me about what I did to merit getting up late makes enduring this fast-paced, full-body routine so much easier than going it alone. By the time Rosante signs off with, “I’m dirty from this roof; you’re dirty from last night. Go get your ass in the shower!” I feel like a scandalous, saucy minx. I’ve even responded a coy, “Yes, sir!” once or twice. (You are totally judging me right now, and I’m okay with that.)

HellaWella has also brought you some great cardio workouts, such as the 12 Days of Fitness, so check out our archives! Pro-tip: once you get comfortable with these exercise routines, try doing them to your favorite songs for even more customization.


Step 2: Keep your cardio going or fit in some toning

If you rocked out your quick cardio and have to jet, no worries! You showed up, and that is a victory in itself. A lot of times, though, I’ll find myself psyched enough to keep going. Rosante’s seven-minute Wave Shape AMRAP — that’s "As Many Reps As Possible" — workout via BeFit is an intense blend of cardio and toning, and, as this dreary East Coast winter drags on, the beach setting certainly helps. Another fabulous resource for fun, fast cardio is The Body Department, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson’s health and wellness website. My inner pop diva has officially been unleashed thanks to the site’s awesome roster of dance workout videos. Start with one song and just try to resist doing another. This “Uptown Funk” Zumba dance is guaranteed to make you smile while you sweat. If you really want to shake that booty, you must try the genius routines by cardio hip-hop instructor Caleb Marshall, AKA The Fitness Marshall. His easy-to-follow videos are infused with swagger and attitude. This man even has his grandma working it!


Step 3: Find your focus with yoga

Yoga is a great way to end your workout session. Sometimes, I’ll just do one of the workouts from step one and then hit the yoga mat for an improvised flow depending on how much time I have. For a quick, challenging yoga session, try Heidi Kristoffer’s four-minute Yoga-Tabatha mashup from Shape.com. I love that this workout not only tones arms, abs and legs but also stretches the hips. Kristoffer’s Post-Run yoga routine for Shape.com provides a really nice stretch after cardio and is less than ten minutes long.

If you have 20 minutes or so, yoga teacher Caley Alyssa’s Shoulder Openers Vinyasa Flow for Udaya Yoga via BeFit is a great standing sequence that lengthens your whole body and helps to release pent-up tension. This is the perfect companion to Rosante’s short-but-demanding workouts. After all those pushups, your arms and shoulders will thank you.

Follow these steps to create a workout that will take you from frazzled to focused no matter how much time you have. Tell us: what quick workouts do you love?