Lesson #66: How to Work Out at Night

by Rachel on January 25, 2011

Now that I’m in the office from 9 to 6 each day, I’ve lost the opportunity to work out during my favorite time of day (that would be the 3 PM slot, in which all productivity ceases to a halt anyway). I’ve gone back and forth between becoming a morning person again (about as easy as revirginizing yourself) and working out in the evening (when all the fun stuff is happening!), but lately I’ve found that the evening workout is working best.

Except when it’s not. Even though I genuinely like working out in the evening — after a long day sitting in front of a computer, I’m dying for some movement, music, and hopefully fresh air — it’s not always easy to make it happen. But a few simple things are helping to take the edge off. If you need to get motivated to work out at night, here are some tips!

1. Change into your workout clothes before you leave the office. This has been helping me so much. Right before it’s time to go, I change in the bathroom into my yoga pants, Nikes, sports bra, tank, and track jacket. This puts me in a ready-to-work-out mindset, plus I’m forced to tell my coworkers that I’m going to work out, which helps me actually do it. Putting your clothes on first also keeps you from lallygagging in the locker room or just when you get home, reading your mail…and then checking your e-mail…and then flipping on the news…and then losing all motivation.

Even if you don’t stop at the gym on your way home from work, you should still put on your workout clothes at the office. Why? Because when you get home, you’ll already have your sneakers on, which puts you in an active mindset, even while you’re eating dinner. But if you come home in your dress and boots and put on the same outfit in your bedroom, you’d likely skip the shoes, so it feels more like you’re just wearing pajamas…which makes it way easier to just get comfy on the couch with your dinner.

2. Take classes at night. Preferably classes that you have to hustle to get to on time! For some reason, when I have plans to go to a class after work, I do everything in my power to make it there. I bust my ass all day because I know if I don’t, I’m not going to get a bike that night. But if all I’m doing is running, I know I can do that at any time, and without that sense of urgency, I’m more likely to delay at work for an extra half-hour, until I’m way too hungry to go straight to the track to run, and then by the time I get home and make dinner, it’s too late to do cardio.

If you don’t have access to classes, call upon a workout buddy! Eric and I have been doing Core Fusion together once a week, and when I know that’s coming, it forces me to plan ahead and get everything done in much the same way as a class does.

3. Plan your dinner ahead of time. To me, the slow cooker is the perfect reward for an evening workout. I hate leaving the gym or the trail hungry and then having to think about stopping for a few ingredients at the store and then getting home and making something. It’s so nice to get it all set in the morning and know it will be waiting for you when you arrive. I mean, let’s be honest: when it comes to being reliable and showing you love when you need it most, a Crock Pot does it better than a vibrator, amiright? If you need some ideas, here are some of my Crock Pot recipes, but really, most soup recipes will work. Chili and beef stew are two of my slow cooker favorites, mainly because they smell so great!

4. Choose the right evening workouts. I’m a big believer in making exercise easy on yourself. If, at the end of a long day, you really only have the energy to work out for 30 minutes, don’t tell yourself you have to do 45. Just like I don’t generally make myself run in the morning anymore, because the thought of it makes me want to vom and is pretty much guaranteed to make me skip it altogether, I only end long days with a workout that will make me feel better, not stressed.

I’m also one of those people who often can’t sleep at night if I work out too late in the day, so I’ve started doing more Core Fusion in the evening, especially if I know I can’t work out until after 8:00. It’s a great workout and makes me feel so good, but I know that I can do it and still fall right to sleep.

But that’s just how I am now! A few years ago, I used to go run at the gym at 11:30 right before they closed and then I’d come home all tuckered out and go right to sleep. It’s worth it to try different methods if one doesn’t seem to be working.

5. Turn the lights off. I loved taking Ken’s amazing spin class in New York at night, when everyone had tons of UGH-what-along-day angst to burn off. We’d just let it all out in the darkness of the packed spin class. When the lights are off, I don’t get distracted by other people or by my own inability to do certain exercises; I find that I really tune into the music and my body and push myself more. Plus, after a long day at the computer, light and technology really bothers me, so working out in the dark helps me unplug. I always spin with the lights off and the blinds drawn when I’m at home, and I never turn on the lights when I sneak into an empty studio at the gym to spin or just lift weights. And when I do Core Fusion before bed, it’s candlelight only. Trust me, when you have good music on, candlelight isn’t going to make it feel like some hippie exercise. Working out with just candlelight and dirty rap songs is strangely, unexpectedly, wonderful!

That’s all I got. I need the extra evening motivation because Eric has convinced me to start spinning at the gym again. I’m honestly terrified. I had my one and only experience with his instructor on my second day of datecation and honestly, there is a reason I haven’t been back. And that reason is that I’m not the biggest masochist on the planet, or, I guess, I wasn’t. Until now. I haven’t gotten Face Down, Ass Up with anyone but myself since I bought my own bike, and, honestly, sometimes when you’ve done it alone for a while, doing it with other people again is rather daunting.

(Am I right, ladies?)

Any other good tips for making sure you get your evening workout in? Please share with the rest of the class!