Tips for Working Out on a Lunch Break

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle to find time to workout. Between work, kids, relationships, day-to-day errands, sleep, and beyond—finding time to squeeze in a workout is a real challenge for most people. So what do you do when your days are full and there’s not an hour before or after work to spare for exercise? For the past few months, I’ve adjusted my routine to fit in working out on my lunch break. With some careful planning and the right mindset, you might be able to start a lunchtime workout routine that works with your schedule.

Lunchtime workout routine -- Tips for working out on a lunch break


I’ve always been active, but when I got married, my priorities and schedule changed drastically. When I was single, I had plenty of extra time on my hands. If I wasn’t home until after 9 p.m. on a week night, it was no big deal. But when Cody, my husband, came into my life, working out became less important. Getting home ASAP to spend time with him became my top priority. Four years later, I’ve gained over 30 pounds.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? My work day starts around 5 a.m. and doesn’t end until 5 p.m. After work, there is running errands, picking up around the house, helping Cody make dinner, and, you know, sitting down to rest for a minute or two. That’s on a day I don’t have plans or a commitment to meet with friends or family. And we don’t even have kids!

So do I pull off working out on my lunch break?

I have my lunchtime workout routine timed to the minute. There’s a specific list of items I need to be as efficient with my time as possible. So for those of you who are interested in figuring out a way to fit a lunchtime workout routine into your schedule, below are five tips for working out on a lunch break.

LUNCHTIME WORKOUT ROUTINE TIP #1 – Determine where you will workout on your lunch break.

Actually finding a gym or workout studio that’s near your office building is the first hurdle to fitting exercise into your lunch break. I was able to find an Orangetheory Fitness studio 1.3 miles away from my office (read my post on Orangetheory Fitness here).

Determining where you will work out on your lunch break is highly dependent on where you live. If you live in a major city, you’ll probably have more options that someone who lives in a town that’s spread out. The most important thing to note is you’re going to need access to a locker room. So no matter where you decide to workout on your lunch break, having a space to change, shower, wipe down, and freshen up is going to be important.

LUNCHTIME WORKOUT ROUTINE TIP #2 – Time how long it will take you to get from your office to the gym.

I know it takes me exactly 10 minutes to get from my desk to the Orangetheory Fitness studio, so I leave my desk at 11:50 a.m. on the dot to make it to my 12:00 p.m. class every day. If I leave at 11:51 a.m., I know I’m running behind. Figure out what timing works for you and stick to it.

LUNCHTIME WORKOUT ROUTINE TIP #3 – Pack a gym bag with your workout clothes.

Each morning, I pack a backpack with everything I’ll need for my workout. I leave said backpack in my car with workout pants, a top, sports bra, pair of socks, and tennis shoes. I also leave a S’well bottle in my bag so that I don’t even have to think about grabbing a water bottle every day.

If you’re able to walk to your gym or studio, then bring your bag inside your office building. I have to drive to Orangetheory, so I leave mine in the car to make departing the office and heading to the studio that much more efficient.

LUNCHTIME WORKOUT ROUTINE TIP #4 – Plan out the most efficient way to change clothes.

For me, I wear my work clothes to the studio and change in a bathroom once I arrive for class. I do this every single day and don’t stray from my routine. This way, I know exactly how much time it will take between when I leave my desk to when I’m changing clothes to when I’m ready and on a workout machine. It eliminates any surprises or guessing when it comes to timing.

If your gym or fitness studio is super busy or small, it might make more sense to change clothes at your office. Try changing one day at the office and one day at the gym to see what’s quicker. Then, you’ll know for certain which way is more efficient moving forward.

LUNCHTIME WORKOUT ROUTINE TIP #5 – Pack everything you’ll need to freshen up after your lunchtime workout.

I find it easiest to just leave my dry shampoo, brush, wipes, deodorant, and makeup in my bag at all times. That way, I don’t have to think about whether I have these items in the mornings. They’re always in my bag.

One big question I get when I tell people I workout at lunch involves showering. My office building has a gym and shower downstairs, so when I finish with my Orangetheory workout, I go back to my office building and hop in the shower for no more than 60 seconds—just long enough to rinse off sweat. If you don’t have access to a shower (or don’t have time), wet wipes are a great option.

After I’ve rinsed, I towel off, get dressed, apply dry-shampoo, and brush out my hair. I’ll also reapply some foundation and concealer to cover up any redness from my workout. I have the same freshening routine every day so I know exactly how much time it will take to get back up to my desk.


1. When you’re parking your car at the office, choose your spot based on the best way to exit for the gym. For me, I park on the opposite side of the building from where my office is because there’s easier access to the road where my Orangetheory Fitness studio is located. I figure it saves me about three minutes when I’m heading to my lunchtime workout.

2. Always pack your lunch. You’re not going to have time to stop to grab food between the gym and the office. And even if you do have a couple of minutes to spare, do you really want to go to a drive through for a greasy lunch after you’ve worked out? I’ve learned to buy a bunch of difference soups at the beginning of the week to bring to lunch. I can grab my soup on my way out the door in the morning and know it’s going to be quick, filling, and healthy.

3. Skip washing your hair. I sweat A LOT, and sometimes the hair near my scalp is wet after I workout. That’s what dry shampoo and a blow dryer are for! I know it might sounds gross, but honestly, it’s just part of the routine for me at this point. I don’t even think about it.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of saving a couple of minutes here and there. You might think saving three minutes on parking isn’t worth the effort, but saving three minutes three times saves you almost 10 minutes. When you’re on an hour-long lunch break, 10 minutes is a lot of time.

When I decided it was time to start re-prioritizing exercise in my life, I struggled for months with super early-morning workouts. Once I couldn’t take that anymore, I switched to an evening exercise routine, which had me home late and feeling exhausted. So I thought long and hard about what to do and whether or not it would be feasible to fit a lunchtime workout routine right in the middle of my day.

To my delight and relief, working out on my lunch break has been a godsend. I’m not in a rush in the mornings, and that feeling of dread of knowing my day still isn’t over after 5:00 p.m. is gone. My work day feels super short, and I’m more productive in the afternoons with a rush of energy and endorphins.

When do you all find time to exercise? Have you ever tried working out on a lunch break? If so, do you have any tips or tricks on working a lunchtime workout routine into your schedule? Let me know in the comments below!



  1. Marie
    January 31, 2018 / 6:36 pm

    I love this post, Cameron! I have struggled for years with morning vs. evening workouts! Recently, I pack my workout clothes with me everyday and go straight to the gym after work. If I go home, I am not leaving for the evening! But lunch workout… hmmm… This have me a few things to think about!

    • Cameron Proffitt
      February 6, 2018 / 4:43 pm

      The only way I’ll go is if I can go straight from work (whether that’s a lunch or in the evenings). Going at lunch has definitely worked for me, and it’s saved me a TON of time. Worth a try for sure if you’re struggling to find the time to work out.

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