How to Stay Fit – and Sane – Through Busy Season

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Exercise is the ultimate mind-clearer and brain stimulator and you need to keep fit through the mire of cursing, yelling, binge-drinking, weight-gaining, lack-of-a-social-life-except-my-“friends”-at-work time that is busy season.

Below is a basic 15- to 30-minute workout (plus maybe an extra 10 minutes if you make the mistake of actually reading the whole blog post) that is easy to squeeze into a busy schedule and that you can do from the comfort of your own home (when you have the luxury of enjoying such a place), shower, office, cube, or wherever you can find space. I make no recommendation to actually do these at the client site.

Without further adieu, the following fitness and sanity advice comes from the mind of a former collegiate soccer player-turned audit senior:

When it's Tuesday, Jan. 12, and your busy season still hasn't quite started yet, one of the following five reasons is usually the culprit for the delay in the opening of hell's gates:

  1. Your client's controller decided to move houses in December and closed on her new abode on Dec. 31, 2015. You are expected to finish planning the week of Jan. 11 and have two weeks scheduled of fieldwork starting the same week, yet there has been absolutely no communication with the client. Presumably because the controller is buried under a pile of boxes and cannot quite finish the close. Good luck making that deadline.
  2. You are still lying on the beach in Hawaii on your extended Christmas vacation being tortured by that mad internal debate on whether or not you should order another piña colada and spend the rest of your life here, or if you should actually get up and go make your flight home knowing that if you do, your busy season starts tomorrow.
  3. You are one of the 10 newly hired staff and drew the long straw. That's right, you are so jealous that your entire start group has already been assigned to jobs and are working until 10 at night and you are sitting there with nothing to do. Enjoy it while it lasts, son.
  4. You spent the first four busy seasons of your career at a Big Four firm, decided enough is enough, and transferred to a small regional firm. Now, everyone around you is scrambling like The Big One is about to hit tomorrow, and you are thinking about hitting the bar at 9 o'clock in the morning.
  5. Procrastination, baby. It's barely Tuesday, my deadline isn't until the end of the month, and this is my third year on this job. I think I'll ease into busy season a bit more this year and just keep my brain shut off until sometime next week. Hopefully my manager doesn't schedule any review time ... .

No matter the reason, these are the days when you can really kick-start that fitness regime. I, for one, did not wake up this morning to hit the gym but “made up for it” by deciding to ride my bike the 4.5 miles to work. When you know you have nothing to do on any given day (I am currently residing somewhere in Nos. 1 and 4, above), riding your bike to work isn't a terrible option – just stay off the freeways, make sure you wear something covering your ears if you live in a state where the average January temperatures rarely exceed Shaq's shoe size, watch out for hungover homeless people, and prepare to endure the stunned, glazed-over stares of all your co-workers who walk by your cube and gawk at the bike helmet resting nicely on your desk.

If you aren't the type of person who enjoys going to the gym and watching meatheads throw an extra 45 on the bench press and grunt their way into future rotator-cuff tears and an inability to rotate their necks from more than 11-to-1, then the type of workout I have developed is for you, and all you'll need to make is two key purchases (luckily you're scoring the big bucks so this part of the program is easy-peasy):

  1. A yoga mat.
  2. Some form of dumbbell.

You can find these at any Target, sporting goods store, or, if you aren't getting off work until after Target closes at midnight, you can easily make the following substitutions:

  1. The floor can be your mat – hopefully you have some carpet space.
  2. As for a dumbbell replacement, a dog, roommate, mini-fridge, dining-room chair, or anything else that fits on your shoulders will have to do.

The theory behind these purchases is to focus our fitness regime on the two parts of the body that take the most abuse during the long months of sitting that is busy season: ass and abs. The two main exercises that address these are, you got it, crunches (or variations on) and squats (or variations on).

As with any workout, the most important thing is to first warm up to help avoid any injury. Also make sure to drink plenty of water to complement your water filtered through coffee grounds that is consumed heavily this time of the year.

Workout 1 – week of January 11 – “Starting Slow” – 15-20 minutes

Warm-up

  • 25 jumping jacks (do not do in shower)
  • 25 high knees, running in place (also do not do in shower)
  • 25 butt-kickers, running in place (probably also not a good idea to do these in the shower)

x2

Workout

  • 10 squats (great shower exercise)
  • 10 push-ups (knee push-ups are OK for the first week)
  • 10 crunches
  • 10 calf raises, each leg

x3

Mazel tov, happy busy season, and until next time!

About Ethan Low

About Ethan Low

Ethan Low is an experienced senior associate in the audit and assurance department of a regional public accounting firm in the United States.

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