My “When All Else Fails” Workout

We are all busy people on the run. We are all trying to fit in our fun. One thing that brings me joy is running itself, for exercise. But there is frequently something that causes my run or any workout to fall out of the top position on our family’s priority list. I know it is the same for you. Whether it’s because you had to work late, or your baby girl is home sick, or all your kids are all still not in school, or you can’t go to your favorite class because they don’t have childcare, or you don’t have a gym because it’s too expensive or it’s pouring when you wanted to run, or there is preschool pick-up and dance class and laundry, or the power is out… there is always something in life that leaves us with very little time to exercise.

I was reminded of this the other day when my middle daughter woke up complaining of a sore throat, which we later learned was Strep. I felt terribly sad for my baby girl that she was sick, but I was also, frankly, secretly pissed, because Tuesday morning is supposed to be “mommy time,” when all the kids are away for an entire three hours. And this was to be the first full week of our new “back to school” routine. One that I had waited patiently for after a summer full of lots of activities from the top of my kids’ priority list. That first “mommy morning” I was super excited to go for a nice long run to prepare for my upcoming half-marathon and then write a post to share with you my half-marathon training schedule for new runners. I had already written the lead in my head. “Now that the kids are finally all back in school, it’s a great time to get into a new running routine.” Or something like that. But all of this went by the wayside, of course, because indeed, all of my kids were not finally back in school.

While not an important problem in the scheme of things, the irony of this turn of events, seemed uncanny, as if it had been scripted. Was it a coincidence? Maybe. Karma? Perhaps. Or maybe it was a message from above reminding me that I am not in charge. A sort of tap on the shoulder helping me to remember to keep things in perspective. A whisper to make sure I’m keeping my priorities straight. Lately, I have been increasingly aware of God’s presence in my life and I’m fairly certain that this little tiny nudge was his work.

After I was done pouting and being selfish, I realized that this coincidence had presented me with the perfect opportunity to share with you a great little workout I created awhile back to use on days exactly like this one. These are all moves you’ve seen and done before, but I’ve combined them into a quick ten minute rotation that you can do once or twice or three or four times depending on how much time you have. Even on a busy day, I’m pretty sure every one can find 10 minutes. The thing is, once you’ve done 10, you’ve built up your momentum and will want to do it again, and then again. Even if you have to do 10 minutes now, then take a break to change a diaper, give the baby a bottle, or get the kids a snack, it is easy to come back later and do another 10 minute set. I’ve always hated putting in a forty minute workout tape, feeling nervous that I wouldn’t get through all of it without the kids imploding. Then I’d feel guilty I didn’t get to finish it. This workout routine takes out the guilt. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Just commit to ten minutes at a time.

Now, I’ve done dozens of different workout videos that claim to be a good workout in 20 or 30 minutes. When I’m done, I usually have barely broken a sweat. I do enjoy the Insanity and P90X tapes, but I can’t commit to doing a video tape every day. I’d get bored. What I love about my “When All Else Fails” workout is that after 30 minutes, I am literally dripping sweat from my forehead, off my nose and chin down my chest and back. And my ponytail is completely soaked. That is how I judge a good workout, by whether or not my pony tail is dripping wet. Yesterday, I was about as sweaty as I am after a good 30 minutes on the elliptical or maybe even after a 30 minute run. Based on my estimation, each 10 minute set will burn at least 100 to 150 calories. If you repeat it, you’re burning a good 300 to 450 calories. For a day when you thought you might not get in a workout, that’s great! Not to mention, I was sore all over today from doing this yesterday, so you’re working lots of muscle groups too.

After one, ten-minute set. Note beads of sweat.

After one, ten-minute set. Note beads of sweat.

After second, ten-minute set. Sweat dripping down face, nose, and chest.

After second, ten-minute set. Sweat dripping down face, nose, and chest.

After third, ten-minute set. Sweaty beast.

After third, ten-minute set. Sweaty beast.


Here’s the workout. Watch the video at the bottom of the page to see how to do each move (most are self-explanatory). It is ridiculous that I filmed it. What a loser. I give you permission to laugh at me.


Do each of the following 10 exercises for 1 minute each. I time it by using the stopwatch on my phone, looking down at it occasionally to know when to switch to the next exercise.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Run in Place
  • Knee Ups
  • Butt Kicks
  • Jump Rope (you don’t need a real jump rope)
  • Knee In (switch half way)
  • Frog Jumps
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Ski Jumps

Take a one or two minute break for water. Then repeat, one, two, even three or more times. Burn 100 calories or more for each 10 minutes.

I wanted to show you images of each exercise, but I didn’t have anyone here other than Caroline and John to take photos of me doing it. Here’s the photo Caroline took. Not too helpful.


So, I decided to record a video of it so you can ensure you are doing the right moves. Want a laugh? Watch this video of one 10 minute set that I recorded with Caroline’s help. She is the star! I watched it back and laughed harder than I have in a long time. It is really quite fun and it is all so US. This is truly, honestly how I fit in a workout when all else fails. I hope it will help you some day when you can’t find any other way to get in a quick, yet effective workout. Not to mention, that your children might just want to join in for some exercise too.

Watch the Video.

Please Note: You should consult your doctor before doing any exercise routine. I am not a trainer or an expert, just a regular mom showing you my own workout.

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