*This article originally appeared on MadameNoire.com*
I’ve said I wish I could work out on my lunch break probably as many times as I’ve said I wish I didn’t have to workout at all, but last Friday I finally decided to stop wishing I could do it and actually do it.
305 Fitness is a dance cardio workout facility I’ve been going to off and on for the past year and guess where it’s located? A hop, skip, and two jumps around the corner from my office. It’s also taught by some of the most positive, energetic, and fit 20-somethings I’ve ever come across in life and leaves me completely drenched and devoid of any ability to do more than a half-twerk once I leave, which is why I’ve always been uncertain about trying to squeeze in this 55-minute workout on my hour-long lunch break that’s more real in the employee handbook than my actual work day. But seeing as how the remaining classes in my package were about to expire and the classes that weren’t already filled limited, I went ahead and signed up for a 1 pm Cardio Arms session with my favorite instructor Symone. I figured if anyone could get me through a midday cardio session it would be her, and that she did.
When 1:55 rolled around and I completed my last stretch during Friday’s class, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I wasn’t super fatigued and I also was running over to check my emails. I felt refreshed and really good about doing something “selfish” for myself. I also learned a few things about working out midday, like:
It’s not just for people who don’t have jobs. This was a huge assumption I made and I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve made this assumption as well. Taking lunch breaks is just something I’ve never seen most of my coworkers do, so if you have time to do more than grab a quick bite between the hours of 12 and 1, I assume you have money, don’t have to work, or have a good job at an exceptional company with a fitness facility right in your building. I don’t fall into any of those categories and neither did all nine people in class with me last Friday. One woman said she doesn’t work on Fridays, others were going right back to the office like me, and a few declined to comment when the instructor asked where everyone was headed after stretching but I’m 99% pretty sure they have jobs. And yet, we all found an hour to break away from other demands and put our physical and mental fitness first for a change.
I actually can disconnect without getting fired. Thirteen minutes before my class was about to start my boss Gchatted me and I thought, “so much for that midday workout.” I just knew I was either going to be dragged into a conversation that would make me miss my class or whatever she wanted to talk about would need to be handled ASAP and I wouldn’t be able to pull away. But I was actually able to wrap up that convo quickly, run around the corner to my class, and completely disengage for the full 55 minutes which I have to say impressed me more than the stamina I had for the high-intensity workout. I’m super anal about responding to emails and GChats instantly and have hyped myself up to believe the world will stop spinning if I don’t. Not-so-surprising revelation: It won’t.
It prevented my 3 pm crash. Every day around 3 pm, without fail, I get stupid. Goofy, droopy-eyed, sleep-deprived, why-do-I have-to-work, what-are-you-talking-about stupid. I, and I hope my co-workers agree, take comfort in the fact that midday crashing really is a thing and most people do it. But the energy and endorphin boost from my 1 pm workout pushed me right on past goofy land. I was more refreshed when I returned to the office and knocked out my remaining work with no lag.
It’s much more peaceful than working out after work. I’m not one of those people who likes intimate workout settings per say, but I am so over crowded workout classes that leave me and the girls next to me bumping into one another at some point in the class. And don’t even get me started on the rush to actually leave work on time and get to class in enough time to not still be out of breath from my run down the block when I’m expected to jump right into high knees. The lunch atmosphere was so much more relaxed and I felt like I was in the company of people who really wanted to be there and were serious about working out.
It feels good as hell not having to work out at the end of the day. Even though I enjoy working out, there are some days I just don’t want to get home after 8 pm because I went to a class, or that I feel anxious throughout the day knowing something else is hanging over my head after I get done with works stress. Midday workouts are actually a great way to break up the monotony of the day, and leave more time after work for other important things like time with family or friends, working on a side gig, or just decompressing. It feels good to check something off the list and pay yourself during the time your company is paying you to eat.
Now there are a few caveats of my experience I’d be remiss not to mention, like the fact that my office is super casual so I felt no way about wearing my athleisurewear to the office, which cut out changing time. I also just freshened up after my workout (you know how I do) and made a few essential changes — I’m talking t-shirt and panties — to prevent funk and yeast infections because no one needs either of those things in their lives.
And, as I mentioned, the facility is super close to my office which made going to a class at lunch more doable. But, as with anything else, if you’re really determined to do something, you’ll make it work. That's why I went back again today. It was the best midday stress-relieving hour of my life.