Workout for the Average Joe

Tips for busy people and gym novices

by Erin Hooker

Disclaimer: I am not a normal person.

As an athlete on the Iowa State cross-country team, I run a minimum of 70 miles each week. I’m also a member of the track team, so that treasured “off” season so many athletes talk about — yeah, I’ve never experienced one of those. With yearlong training and competing, I needed a go-to workout that is ideal for off days from practice, or on busy days when school and life got the best of me.

I wrote a workout that anyone can do, and I’m sharing it.

Before you shut down this article, or assume the workout will be too hard, trust me!

I relate to not feeling motivated. I don’t enjoy every mile I run. So, on those tough days I simplify fitness.

At the heart of a good health and fitness routine is consistency. You don’t have to make a major life change for health improvements. There is no need for sexy workout gear and I definitely don’t encourage throwing out the beer and brownie mix from your pantry. So, here is fitness — super simplified.

Working out for 20 minutes each day is better than working out for one hour, one day a week.

Don’t feel pressured into committing to a label of “runner”, “yogi”, “biker”, or “lifter.” Try new activities.

Maybe a job takes priority in your life or friends or an internship. I get it. So instead of feeling guilty for not prioritizing health and fitness every hour of the day, simply prioritize your body for 30 minutes. Then, move on with everything else that is most important to you.

4. Don’t buy in.
Blender bottles, protein shakes or supplements don’t give you a good body — it’s the exercise you do. If your main goal is just to run at the gym five days a week, then run five days a week at the gym. Save money and ditch the fitness products.

5. Do You
Plug in and listen to your favorite podcast. Wear some retro, vintage gear or show off that thigh tattoo. Make working-out an enjoyable part of your day.

Fitness is simple. We are bombarded by hardcore phrases surrounding fitness such as no excuses, just do it, etc. The intense environment at the gym might drive us away but it doesn’t need to. All we need is a fitness formula, a workout we plan on completing in a certain amount of time. This workout emphasizes consistency, incorporates variety and requires less than an hour each day.


The Workout: 30 minutes

Run/Bike/Elliptical – Choose Two

15 minutes of first pick
15 minutes of second pick

First exercise: Five-minute warm up
10-minute workout (One minute hard/ One minute easy)
Second exercise: 10-minute workout (One minute easy/One minute hard) Five-minute cool down

The first five minutes of the first pick is warm-up and last five minutes of second pick is cool-down.

For the remaining 10 minutes of the first pick after the warm up, increase heart rate by going hard for one minute and then going easy for one minute, repeat five times for the full 10 minutes.

Then, hop on the second machine pick. Begin with one minute easy to warm-up into the new exercise. Then, go one minute hard, one minute easy for nine minutes. You should end on one minute hard before the five-minute cool down.

Adapt this workout for any two exercises, or for a 30-minute walk/run.