Five ways to introduce fitness into your day as a freelancer

We’re all aware of the benefits of being active, but as a freelancer who is already juggling work and personal life, it can feel impossible to incorporate fitness into your day. Many of us are bound to our desks during the week, and if you’re working from home like me, your fitness tracking watch can often serve as a cruel reminder of the lack of steps you’ve taken that day.  

However, there are some simple measures you can take to change this. On the Freelance Corner podcast, we spoke to Hannah Lewin, a personal trainer, to discuss how freelancers can incorporate workouts and fitness into their routines. The following are her top tips on how to get started. 

Two people going for a walk together to get active

1. Don’t try and go from naught to one hundred 

You’ve made the decision to try and be more active, that’s great! But don’t be tempted to throw yourself into it by taking on a big challenge. Hannah’s advice is to simply make one change at a time. 

“If you're not exercising at all at the moment, your first step could literally just be going for a ten-minute walk or getting off the tube a stop earlier, that kind of thing. Finding a new fitness class to join or signing up with a personal trainer is also quite a good way to get started so that you have a reason to go to something." 

If you start out with an activity that requires maximum effort, you run the risk of burning yourself out, getting injured, or simply not enjoying it to the point that you avoid exercise all together. 

2. Think about what kind of activity you would naturally lean towards 

Love being outdoors? Prefer the security of the gym or the privacy of being at home? Whatever you would naturally lean towards, Hannah recommends sticking with that when you’re starting out. Staying within your comfort zone at first means you will be more likely to commit to exercising and develop lasting habits. 

“When in a personal training session, there's always going to be things that people will will lean towards. If someone flat out hates something, it's not something I'm ever going to make them do, because it just creates a bad experience. I want people to come to sessions looking forward to them - I think it's nice to have something that you're not dreading.” 

IPSE members also have access to discounts with various gym, health and wellbeing providers via IPSE Rewards

3. Use online resources to find workouts that fit into your schedule 

Whether it’s on various fitness platforms or for free on streaming services like YouTube, there is a seemingly unlimited number of online workouts available nowadays. In fact, there’s almost too much to sort through, so Hannah issues a word of warning: 

“The one thing I would say with online content is be really careful who you're taking it from. Make sure that it's not someone who is unqualified or has horrible technique and so on. Be very aware of who you're getting online content from, you can check their credentials very easily.”  

Examples of online workouts that are easy to get started with are bodyweight circuits. They’re a fantastic way of getting your cardio and strength training into one workout, particularly if you’re time poor (or the weather's rubbish outside). If you’re ready to invest in your workouts, getting even just one pair of dumbbells is a great place to start.  

Online resources also make it much easier to incorporate activity into your busy schedule. Only have ten minutes to spare? Type that into YouTube and you’ll find a vast array of workouts to choose from. 

4. Frame it in a different way 

Hannah also recommends that another good way of starting to get active is to frame it in a different way. So often, we feel pressured to get active because we are coming from a place of hating our bodies or just feeling rubbish about ourselves. This can lead to unrealistic expectations, and it’s easy to get discouraged when those expectations aren’t immediately met. 

"If you frame it in a way of self-care or self-love, rather than saying for example, Okay, I need to go for a run, because I'm going to use it in a punishing way - if you flip it on its head and use it in a way of respecting your body and respecting yourself, it's so much easier to get out the door, and to keep it going. It’s a more long-term way of framing exercise.” 

Give yourself time knowing that this is going to hopefully be a long-term thing, and start by setting small and achievable goals.  

Reframing the way you think about exercise also means changing the way you track your progress: 

“A really cool way I think is if you're looking at strength tracking, you can track the actual weight you're lifting, not your weight, because that's a bit of a kinder kind of way to track it. In terms of just starting out, you can simply track the number of workouts you're doing, as well as things like the amount of rest time you're taking might be going down, and the time you're working out for might be going up." 

Consider why you’ve chosen to become more active and start from there. 

5. Get active whenever works for you 

“The best time to work out is the day and time of the week that suits you,” Hannah says.   

“There is no biomechanical benefit to working out in the morning, at lunchtime, in the evening, fasted, not fasted, all this kind of stuff we hear - it has no impact on your progress or on your results.” 

Workouts and exercise don’t have to be just in the gym. You can incorporate it as part of your day, perhaps by taking a short walk, doing desk chair exercises, and so on. If that is your only option versus not moving that day, then that's the more beneficial option. 

Whether you’re a morning person, a night owl, or just want to squeeze in some activity between meetings, get active whenever works best for you. 

Listen to the full podcast episode:

Need a bit of extra motivation? Join the IPSE Freelancer Active Club on Strava to gain motivation, join a community, and stay active!

Mental wellbeing advice

We've put together a set of resources and guides to support positive mental wellbeing for the self-employed, combining our business knowledge with tips and advice from mental health and wellbeing experts.

Look for advice

IPSE Rewards

Access a wide collection of rewards and savings, that are available from some of the UK’s biggest brands, as well as a series of mental wellbeing services through our rewards portal, to help you thrive.

IPSE Offers

Wellbeing for the self-employed

To find out more about the key wellbeing challenges of the sector and provide practical solutions, IPSE's research team has been conducting research on the changing concerns and support needs of the self-employed when it comes to wellbeing.

Visit mini-hub


Meet the author

Christina McLean

Digital Marketing Executive