Harlem, New York – Her friends always ask Karyn Bruyning the same question every time she talks about her daily workout which starts at 5:45 am.
“Ain’t you tired?”
Bruyning laughs because they’re right – she is tired.
“It’s very hard,” Bruyning says. ”[But] I don’t want to be 40 years old and all messed up.”
Bruyning has struggled to make her own health a top priority. She’s juggling a career as a writer and is heavily involved in the arts, which take up most of her afternoons and nights.
Several fitness experts agree – working out requires you to ‘work out’ your schedule.
“The two biggest things people have difficulty parting with is their time and their money,” said Jamel Davenport, a New-York based lifestyle trainer. “Your health has to be most important [to you]. If you lose it, you mean nothing to the people who mean everything to you.”
Davenport, who has helped train a wide range of clients, including celebrities like Keyshia Cole, says time can’t be an excuse because there’s “plenty” of it.
“There are 168 hours in a week and you’re telling me you can’t commit 3 of those hours to your health?” Davenport said. “It’s not the quantity of exercise, but the quality. Ten minutes jumping rope is the equivalent of 30 minutes on the treadmill – and a jump rope is something you carry around with your everywhere.
Whole Lifestyles trainer Lisa Priestly has heard the time argument, too. In fact, she keeps hearing it. For more than 15 years, she’s been training a variety of women, mostly over the age of 30 – professionals, stay-at-home mothers and the elderly.
”[Not having time] is the biggest objection as a trainer I have to overcome,” Priestly said. “But people need to realize they can do things right in their home with no equipment – squats, push-ups, all of these things that take little to no time at all.”
Bruyning recently took up zumba classes on Wednesday nights, which combine several types of dance and lots of energy to make working out effective and entertaining.
The New Yorker says she is distressed at the images of black and Latino women around her who are either obese or battling so many health problems before they reach 50.
“As a woman of color, that’s all you see around you,” Bruyning says. ”[Your health] is the one thing in your whole day that you can control. You can’t control how your boss is going to act or what the economy is going to do [...] But you can control how you treat yourself.
Priestly agrees. She says women face the challenge of balancing both working and child-rearing and their own health too often is lost in the shuffle.
“I tell my women – hold and squat with your baby, pop in the workout dvd and make your exercise routine [your child’s] entertainment or activity,” she said. “You can work on your balance while cooking or waiting for the subway – balance on one foot. I even had a woman who did simple squats in the waiting room while her daughter took piano lessons.”
”[Americans] just need to change our relationship to fitness,” Davenport adds. “Working out doesn’t have to be training for a 26-mile marathon. It can be running a half a mile a day. It could be taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the store instead of circling the lot for a closer spot. Once you make that choice – you’ll see improvement.”