Welcome to Busy Bodies, where we ask busy Washingtonians how they balance health and fitness while working crazy hours, raising a family, and meeting the demands of the daily hustle. Know someone who’s killing the fitness game while getting it done (maybe it’s you)? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
April Gimenez is a 41-year-old mother of two and the head trainer at F45 in Ashburn. The former Marine coaches 15 hours a week at the studio and works out with her clients five-to-six times a week.
For Gimenez, working out is just a part of life.
“I’ve been an athlete all my life, to the point that working out is just a part of who I am. If I miss more than a day or am on the sidelines, I become off-balance [and] moody,” she says. “Nobody wants to feel like that, so I just make exercising a part of my day, even if I go at it alone.”
Here’s how she gets it done.
“Mornings at our house are pretty regimented due to early morning swim practice. My girls are up by 4:20 AM rain or shine during the school year. After dropping them off or getting them ready for their carpool, I head out to my F45 studio. Unlike most trainers, most of my own workouts happen at my studio. I train with our members five-to-six days a week. What better way to promote our team training concept than to grind it out with them side-by-side? [Because] our workouts are only 45 minutes, they are the perfect blend of high-intensity cardio and [interval] strength training. It’s truly the most efficient program for a busy mom like me.
“There is something so peaceful and satisfying about being done with your workout before your actual workday gets started. The best way for me to check my excuses at the door is to consider that if my workout is truly the hardest part of the day, I really just need to stop whining and give it my all. Keeping that in mind allows me to be appreciative and grateful.
“[In the mornings], nothing happens before coffee. I try to keep it to just two cups throughout the day because I need it to actually work when I need it. Like clockwork in the mornings, I make my banana, berry, and Greek yogurt shake in my Ninja when I get home. Then more coffee, unsalted nuts, a protein bar, or peanut butter-jelly sandwich and more fruit up until lunch.
“Lunch is easy—leftovers. I keep it simple and clean by avoiding processed foods and take-out. That means I’m cooking more than I like. but I definitely feel better about what I’m eating and what I’m feeding my family. Planning my weekly menu cuts down on my grocery bill and food waste.
“I drink water like I’m about to cross the Sahara. I either am thirsty or have to pee. While teaching class, I’m usually both. (That was probably too much information, but I want everyone else like me to not feel so alone.) Speaking of beverages, mama loves her wine. There is nothing as relaxing as putting my feet up and relishing in a generous pour of chardonnay or savvy b after a long day.
“I coach 15-or-so hours a week at our studio. Besides working out with our members five-to-six days a week, I also play tennis, run, and practice yoga. I’m happiest in motion or napping. I love naps, especially on the weekends or if I’m having to go back to teach an evening block of classes. My members and fellow trainers keep me accountable. I love our team! Working out together forms bonds and friendships that keep each and every one of us coming back.
“I joined the Marine Corps in 1998 when I was having trouble buckling down and finding my focus in college. For me, the most challenging part of our training was the mental aspect. We had to learn how to obey orders without hesitating, work together as a team, and to get the mission done at all costs. As a leader, I learned to swiftly make well-informed decisions, how to plan and execute them, and how to inspire and motivate my team. I learned the importance of being accountable for not just my successes, but also for my mistakes and shortcomings.
“I started teaching group exercise back in 2000 while I was in the Marine Corps. I would teach kickboxing, spin, or step classes to Marines and civilians at Larson’s Gym on Quantico during their lunch breaks. It was an old and awful facility, but it had a ‘this is cool because this used to be an airplane hangar’ kind of charm.
“I have the best job in the world—I get to make fitness fun for those who have forgotten how fun it can be. Work, family, and life in general tends to take our mojo. Helping our members find their mojo again through exercise in a team training environment makes all that we do so worthwhile. Loving my job certainly makes me a much happier camper at home. My husband is amazing and takes point on weekends and evenings when I have classes. My kids love it when I teach two or more nights in a row because that means Dad gets to make dinner—and that means either Chinese or pizza.
“My biggest accomplishment as an athlete so far is being in the best shape of my life in my 40s. I was so scared about getting older. My 30s were spent recovering from one type of injury after another because of over-training. After many boots, braces, and bouts of physical therapy, it’s only now that I realize the importance of variety and cross training in my routine. I love showing my girls that I’m not afraid to keep pushing myself. They know Mom is crazy and up for anything. Almost anything… ask my family, I don’t camp. My days in a tent or hiking were over after the Marines. I’m an outdoorsy-and-loves-the-air conditioning type of girl.
“Most everyone thinks I’m crazy—a bit fanatical, perhaps—about my routine. I just know I am a better mother, wife, and friend because of the active lifestyle I lead. We fool ourselves into thinking we have complete control of our lives. In truth, we only have control of a handful of things that make a world of difference during our time here. All of us have the ability to control what we put in our bodies, whether or not we choose to condition ourselves, and how much time we spend doing our chosen activities. The hardest part for the majority of those beginning their fitness journey is accepting the fact that we can take control.”