Designing Fitness into Your Daily Life

Last year I was working everyday as a personal trainer. I worked out at least 4 hrs a day. Not always on purpose!

I worked out a lot. Working out was built into what I did through my schedule.

If I wasn’t training myself, I was training clients or running or cycling to get to the next client.

I was in great shape and fitness was my job.

Change of direction

As I decided to pursue soft tissue therapy rather than personal training I took a difficult decision to return to a desk job to pay the way whilst building my client base.

This meant I was torn away from my former workout routine rather abruptly.

Instead of movement, my working world now focuses on priorities including power points, emails, client projects, and research, all of which are done sitting down!

If I’m not doing the day job I’m working with clients on their soft tissue and health needs.

There is very little time left out for working out and staying fit. I was already aware from 20 years in an office that when fitness isn’t your job, it is a lot harder to do.

Many people would have described me as a fitness professional yet here I am barely able to get 1 workout in a week.

Stealing Fitness

Fortunately for me, I have two children who are very active. I watch my son adeptly climbing door frames and hanging off the bannisters and remembered doing these things myself (my 15 year old step son still does!)

I realise that they are maintaining their fitness simply by being active and because they are motivated by the fun element of what they are doing.


There is a behaviour model from a professor called BJ Fogg. It works on the basis that for an action to occur there has to be a combination of motivation, ability and a Trigger.

These factors can be further broken down and I’ll come on to these later.

Put simply the boys are motivated by fun and the challenge of the activity. They have the ability to perform the action and the trigger is simply walking past the staircase at any given point in the day!

I have been doing some research and written a bit about sitting being the new smoking so I decided to design my fitness into my day.


The premise of Stealing Fitness is that if I can’t find the time to go to the gym every day, I will find small pockets of time to do mini workouts.

I’ve posted articles before with research showing that “sitting is the new smoking”. Sitting for long periods of time with inactivity is really bad for our health. Inserting small moments of physical activity during the day to break up the sitting has many health and productivity benefits.

While stealing fitness doesn’t get the maximum results that going to the gym for an hour on a structured program would, it is lightyears ahead of doing nothing.

What I did

According to Dr. Fogg’s Behavior Model and Method, I know that in order for a behavior to occur, I need to have the Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. If the behavior is too hard to do or it isn’t triggered, the chances are it won’t occur.

Even though I want to work out for 60 mins every day, many days this is just unrealistic. Either I don’t have the time, or my motivation at the end of the day is 0.

So I’ve lowered the ability barrier and triggered and triggered and triggered and did I mention I triggered?

Lowering the ability barrier

First of all, I lower the ability barrier by highlighting things I could do anywhere at any time: press ups, lunges, body weight squats, walking, jogging in place, hopping, stretching, pull ups etc

None of these things require equipment (not even the pull ups!) or a specific location, the only thing that might be required is enough confidence to do them in a place where you might get caught (I’m talking about the office not the post office!)

The second piece of lowering the ability barrier is keeping the task to a minimum.

I’m not going to do press ups for 20 minutes, I’m going to do 1 set of 10 or 20. I wasn’t going for an hour run, I am going to walk to the train station, stand instead of sitting, take the stairs instead of the lift and when driving park at the farthest parking spot away from the supermarket etc. The key is keeping it at the level of your ability, the minute it’s too difficult the motivation is lost.

Belly button

When I am waiting in a queue I’m doing core squeezes (pull your belly button internally to bum hole and hold for ten seconds, repeat. Sorry not sorry no easier way to describe it!) these are invisible to anyone else as long as you don’t grunt!

When designing your own ability to steal fitness, you can follow the lead of Dr. Fogg himself. He spends a lot of time working from home. He decided that after every time he used the bathroom at home, he would do 2 press ups . He figured that during the course of a day he would use the bathroom 4-8 times which led to a minimum of 8 pushups. Often, he would do 5-10 at a time since he was already down doing press ups.

Trigger, Trigger, Trigger

Once you have made the behavior easy to do, the most important part is triggering the behavior to occur. As mentioned above, Dr. Fogg uses bathroom trips as a trigger to do a set of press ups. The important thing to remember with triggering is to pick triggers that occur with the same regularity that you want to incorporate fitness.

For example at work I do 20 squats after using the loo but before washing my hands, that’s at least 80 squats a day!

Anytime I go into the filing room, I shoulder press the spare water bottle for the cooler 5 times. Everytime I pass the children’s bedroom at home I do 5 pull ups on the door frame… You get the picture.

Add as many triggers as possible.

Moral of the story: Make it easy and Trigger, Trigger, Trigger

If you can’t make it to the gym every day for 30min of exercise, break that up throughout the day and get your fitness in anyway.


Oh and if you want to lose weight too, CALORIE DEFICIT. That’s the only way. Basically put less in your face than you need and you will lose weight. The same model can be apllied to this.

Nobody gets fat in a week, ergo nobody gets thin in a week. You have to change your habits. Let’s say you need 1500 calories a day but you regularly graze on biscuits at work.

Let’s say your are getting 1600 instead of 1500 that’s not much right? But it’s 700 per week or half a day. So every month you’re eating 2 days extra food. Over a year that’s 24 days!!!!! That’s how the weight goes on.


You’re probably already triggered into eating the rubbish. Every time you have a hot drink or the birthday donuts? You don’t HAVE to put it on your face. The lattes? Extra calories. The snacks? Extra calories. You think you’re eating healthy? Find a calorie calculator app and enter truthfully the information.

Once you have your daily calorie requirements, track your intake. If you’re over weight, I guarantee over a week you WILL be exceeding your needs.

Calories in vs calories out is what affects weight not the quality of food you put in. (the quality affects the quality of muscle you build, the cell structure, your energy levels etc so yeah it’s kind of important)

Soft tissue therapy

So what’s this got to do with soft tissue therapy? Directly… Nothing. However a large number of the conditions I treat are directly related to weight, strength and movement.

For advice on any of the above I’m always willing to chat!

07980 339 864 Jason