Time-Saving Tips

You want to work out today. You really do. But what with groceries to pick up, personal calls to make that you didn't get to at work, a dog that needs to go to the vet, and a billion other responsibilities, your motivation is fizzling. We get it — in fact, we've been there many times. Here, an entire month's worth of smart advice on how to work out no matter what, from top fitness experts and real women who find time for fitness on an (almost) daily basis.

1. Do it in the morning!

Nothing major has likely cropped up yet — hey, it's only 7 a.m. Now is the time to get in that run or yoga DVD. In fact, research suggests that women who work out in the morning stick with their programs more successfully than those who don't. Not a morning person? Become one. (We know: It's painful at first, but it's worth it.) "The longer you wait in the day to work out, the more excuses you can find to put it off," says Carol Espel, national director of group fitness at Equinox Fitness Clubs. "Get it out of the way early so you don't have to think about it later on." Another reason to follow the sun? You'll start your day with a smile. A study done at the University of Glasgow in Scotland found that early-bird exercisers felt significantly happier than those who worked out later in the day. Here's a trick to help you avoid the temptation to stay under the covers: When you're lying in bed staring at the ceiling, visualize yourself at the end of your workout, reveling in your post-exercise, glad-that's-over feeling, says Nicki Anderson, president of Reality Fitness in Naperville, Illinois.

2. Rent a gym locker.

Seems simple, but think about how much energy  you expend schlepping your stuff around. "Every holiday season I get a locker at the gym and leave my workout clothes there, with some makeup and other necessities," says Constance Mensink, 40, a fund-raiser from New York City. "This way I don't have to take anything with me, and I have no excuses not to hit the gym right after work."

3. Do the big four.

"If you don't have a lot of time, you'll get more strength gains by focusing primarily on larger muscles," explains Jonathan Ross of Aion Fitness in Maryland. These body-weight moves target every trouble zone fast: squats, push-ups, lunges, and plank pose. Do them back-to-back as a circuit three or four times, without taking a break.

4. Keep an eye on your workouts — literally.

At least one week in advance, write down all of your workouts and stick the list someplace you'll see it often — like on your fridge. "If your routine isn't right in your face, it's easy to 'forget' about it," says Mike Monroe, program director of in New York City. In fact, research done at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, has found that writing out workouts in advance makes you more likely to stick with them. Another motivation trick: Write your workouts for the week on three-by-five note cards, and as soon as you do them, toss 'em. "Your goal is to finish the week with no cards," explains Monroe.

5. Get a fitness "non"-buddy.

According to numerous studies, working out with a partner will help you get your butt to the gym. So seek out a friend of a friend or a colleague as your exercise partner — someone you can't blow off with a quick e-mail and a sorry excuse — says Monroe. "If it's a person with whom you are friendly but aren't all that close with socially, you're probably going to feel more of an obligation to get to your workout appointments on a regular basis."