The benefits of a regular exercise routine go beyond physical well-being. There’s a well-established link between fitness and mental health, and exercise often improves energy, focus, motivation and overall mood. It can be difficult to find extra time in a busy schedule, but for the entrepreneurs we surveyed, their workout routines were worth the effort. We gathered their thoughts on creating healthy habits and the connection they drew between fitness and success.
A variety of habits
A physical fitness routine is often deeply personal, centering around schedules and exercise preferences. In the dozens of responses we received, each entrepreneur had her own approach. Some went running every morning, while others used online dance classes a few times a week. Some women stuck to an unchanging routine, while others created a flexible plan based on their upcoming schedule. Many stuck to a specific type of exercise, while others switched day by day, jumping from cardio to weightlifting.
How often was each exercise mentioned?
We tallied the number of times each exercise was mentioned. Some entrepreneurs strictly followed a daily running routine, while others mixed it up depending on their mood. What they all had in common was the belief that physical fitness played a major role in the success of their business.
Maintaining a fitness habit for success
LaKenya Kopf, Owner and Operator, Kopf Consulting Virtual Assistance: “My workout routine has been my secret weapon to my success. By going to the gym, I allow myself to step away from the craziness and demands of running my business. I am in a world where no one knows me and no one can find me, which is incredibly freeing.”
Stephanie Rose, Owner, Firefly Scout: “Maintaining my fitness habit has been key to my success. It allows me headspace to process problems and let ideas come, to listen to podcasts that inspire and motivate me, and know that I’m doing something just for me and my well-being each day. The combination of the pep talks while the exercise endorphins are flowing helped me keep my momentum, both with the fitness streak and launching my business.”
Bonnie Schiffman, Founding Owner, This Stuff Goes Bad: “When I use that one hour to workout, the rest of my day is more productive, so I don’t think about it as losing work time. If anything, I’m gaining work time, because something that may have taken me three hours now only takes me one. For me, it really does make that much of a difference.”
Christine Nguyen, Founder and CEO, Limitless Foundation: “With the anxiety surrounding COVID-19 and physical health, I’ve been channeling many of those fears into maintaining a healthy exercise and diet routine. Working out helps give me a much-needed break from screens, given that I spend anywhere from 7 – 15 hours on a screen each day. Without an exercise routine, I would never find the time to take care of my physical health and work out.”
How to balance work, life and fitness
Anjela Mangrum, Founder and President, Mangrum Career Solutions: “I balance work with fitness by always planning a week ahead. For example, if I have teleconferences next Wednesday, I schedule power walking after I am done with my teleconferences. If I miss a day during the week to go jogging, I catch up by jogging on Sunday. I always try to squeeze in jogging and power walking into my schedule at least five times a week.”
Kathryn Kelly, Founder and CEO, Taste Buzz Food Tours: “Balancing work, life, and fitness is about having your priorities straight and figuring the perfect equation that works for you. If you are ever pulled too far in one direction, it’ll throw you off track and you’ll feel like you’re losing control. If you neglect your health and personal life to work around the clock, you never get a chance to give your mind and body an opportunity to relax. In turn, it will make you stressed and unhappy. If you devote all your time to socializing and your personal life, you’ll never accomplish your work goals and once again, you’ll feel stressed and unhappy.”
Bonnie Schiffman, Owner, This Stuff Goes Bad: “I think the best way to incorporate fitness is to try lots of different classes, at different times of the day, and really figure out what works best for you. Maybe you’ll try working out in the morning and end up hating it – the next time, try getting in a half-hour before lunch. Figure out what works best for you, that will make it much easier to commit.”
Jamie King, Founder, Flex & Flow: “Instead of finding ‘balance,’ I work towards finding grace and compassion for myself when I don’t meet all of my demands. I try to set realistic expectations with myself and prioritize everything I need to do each day, and then go from there. Things at the top of the list get done ( movement and family is always up there at the top), and the other stuff, it slides down to the bottom. Sometimes fitting in a run or yoga class means I don’t finish something on my to-do list, or maybe I don’t get around to cleaning up the house or making the dinner I said I was going to make – and that’s totally OK.”
Tips on incorporating fitness from other entrepreneurs
“Treat your fitness resolution like you did when you first started your business. When you first started your business, you knew that you wouldn’t go from an idea to a million-dollar business overnight. Working out is the same. Be honest with yourself about where you’re at today and increase the time or intensity every two to three weeks.”
—Randa Hoffman, MBA, Owner and Financial Planner, Radiant Wealth Planning
“Start small. If you don’t have a regular fitness routine, but want to incorporate it into your daily life, it can seem tempting to set your goal as working out six times a week, but that is not reasonable for most people. Setting realistic goals in fitness as well as in other parts of our life, like business, is necessary to attain your desired results.”
—Dr. Swathi Varanasi, Integrative Health Pharmacist, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Elēment Apothēc
“A tip I have for anyone who wants to start running but hates it is to listen to podcasts or audiobooks, not music. I get most of my reading done by listening to audiobooks while running. I find that podcasts and audiobooks keep my mind engaged so I don’t focus on the discomfort of running.”
—Grace Baldwin, Owner, Rhubarb
“If you want to start a fitness habit, you have to know why you want to do it and really connect with it emotionally. Don’t be motivated by a vanity metric, but how it will make you feel when you hit that goal. When you can connect with that, with why you are doing it, you’ve greatly increased your chances of success. You also have to shift your self-talk, being your own best cheerleader to help you keep the promise to yourself to make the plan to hit your goal each day.”
—Stephanie Rose, Owner, Firefly Scout
“Start easy – walking is a great way to build it in at first and get a fitness tracker to help you gamify your walks by keeping track of your heart rates and the miles. Metrics matter and keeping score does too. I also recommend you listen to music that generates good feelings and emotions in you to maximize the overall benefits.”
—Ameé Quiriconi, Owner, Activity Girl
“‘Plan it in!’ is definitely the best way to make it happen. Schedule it in your calendar as a recurring appointment, get a friend on board or an accountability buddy. Your body loves to move and so do you (once you get going). Just take the first step. Your future self will thank you for it.”
—Susanne Grant, Owner, Grant Method Coaching
Often, we use the New Year as a reset button from the past year. I believe if we envisioned the New Year as a continued transformation of being a better version of ourselves, fitness would be a ‘no brainer.’ We learned to pivot because of COVID and rediscovered the lost joy achieved from the love and support of family and friends, not work. We realized that we let work consume us and without it felt lost and disoriented. Surviving a virus and staying healthy and safe is our goal.”
—Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA, CEO and Founder, Platinum Star Public Relations
“I would advise getting started by getting up and moving regularly with short breaks. This is key as we continue to work from home and spend more time sitting down! Set a timer or use your fitness tracker/watch to get up and move. Movement will help the flow of oxygen and help rejuvenate your body and mind. Once you’ve taken the short break, you’ll be ready to get back to work and focus.”
—Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com
Beginning an exercise program that fits into your busy schedule may seem daunting, but, just like running your own business, the sweat is worth it.