The demands of pursuing a Duke MBA are many. Balancing school, family and recreational activities is no easy task. In fact, balancing the demands and managing your time requires sacrificing activities you once never thought of giving up. For me, this means cutting back on my favorite pastime — exercising. However, this does not mean eliminating fitness activities completely. In order to stay healthy, and manage stress, you must think differently about how and when you train and, most importantly, be creative.
Before I offer a strategy for staying fit during business school, allow me to put a few ideas into context. During my entire life, but especially during the last few years, fitness has been a great passion of mine. I’ve participated in endurance races all over the world and regularly devoted 12-15 hours per week to training. While I’ve cut back on my training regimen, I have not eliminated working out completely. Instead, I’ve devised a few creative techniques for staying fit while pursuing my MBA and balancing life’s other demands.
Between work and school, I find myself traveling on a regular basis. To make the most effective use of time, I’ve developed a habit of traveling with easily portable fitness equipment. For instance, I keep a kettle bell and a TRX strap in the trunk of my car. Other easily portable equipment includes jump ropes and dumbbells. Notwithstanding the inquisitive looks I receive while working out in rest stop parking lots, this strategy allows me to train while on the road and in nontraditional places (my backyard, Fuqua’s student parking lot, local athletic fields, etc.). As a student, I’ve found that Duke’s campus offers many convenient training venues. Wallace Wade Stadium (running the stadium stairs is one of my favorite workouts) is within walking distance of Fuqua and the Duke Forest offers a 3-mile running trail that’s also easily accessible from campus. Students also have the option of joining Duke’s gyms, for a fee. So you can use residency weekends wisely, and exercise before or after class.
For those of you with kids, I offer the following: take your kids out for a bike ride. My 7-year old daughter loves riding her bike while I ride alongside her. It’s a wonderful way to spend time with your kids while getting miles under your feet.
My suggestions follow a common thread — keep your workouts brief yet intense and look for opportunities to train in nontraditional venues. With this attitude and approach you’ll mange stress and maintain the energy needed to focus on all of life’s other requirements.