As seen on Gym Jones, “Make Time, Not Excuses”

Make time, not excuses.  Even if it is only 10 minutes, you can get some work done.  We all have busy lives and plenty of excuses not to train.  Those of us who choose to ignore these excuses will be better for it.  Find a way.

I have been a police officer since I was 21 years old.  I started on the job in 1999, two days after winning the Canadian Junior Football league National Championship.  Back then life was pretty simple; eat, train, fun, work and sleep, in no particular order. Fitness was always important to me but it was easy to find time, and I was able to stay fast, strong and lean without much focus.   As I have grown older, my responsibilities have increased immensely and my metabolism has slowed noticeably, making it even more important to stay the course when it comes to my training and nutrition.  I have managed to stay fit despite a very demanding and unpredictable schedule.  Making the most of my time has become one my strengths.  I have been trying to master this for more than a decade and I’m still searching for ways to become more efficient.

In 2004, I was selected for the SWAT team where I worked for 10 years, six of which as the Team Leader. I live and work on the Canadian-USA border, a mile from Detroit. The gun and drug trade between Canada and the USA is thriving and therefore our unit was and still is, extremely busy.  Comprising of only 18 members, we were handling hundreds of tactical operations a year.  Over the course of my career on the team, I participated in over 1000 high risk entries, and literally thousands of other tactical calls –  murders, shootings, stabbings, mental health calls and barricaded persons, just to name a few.  I spent those years “on call”, 24 hours a day- 365 days a year unless I was out of the country. With such a small unit, not answering the “call in” simply was not an option.  This resulted in a ton of overtime hours, quite often logging 18 hours in a day, or during some investigations and projects, even sleeping at headquarters in the back of a truck or on a gym mat.

Since leaving the SWAT team 2 years ago, things have not slowed down, they are just a different kind of busy.  I’m still a police officer, but just a regular good old fashioned street cop, working 12 hour shifts, unpredictable overtime and the occasional court case.  I keep getting older and the bad guys seem to stay the same age!  I also own and run a Strength and Conditioning Facility with my wife,  Dani, also a fully certified Gym Jones Instructor.  Our gym is called The Garage Gym, where we run 50- 60 sessions per week.  To complicate things even more, we have two amazing boys under the age of 4 that keep us hopping.

I need to work for my family.  I need to be fit for myself, my partner and the people that I serve.  Most of all, I need to train for my own mental health.   My point is, time is valuable and being organized and prioritizing how I spend that time is a must for me to stay fit, make money and most importantly be there to enjoy my family and friends.  If you struggle with similar constraints, I recommend reading Bobby Maximus’ Sermon “Be the Dentist” to help you get a handle on how to do this.

At Gym Jones, we preach creating programs not workouts but sometimes it just isn’t possible to make enough time to follow the fitness program set out months before.  Life gets busy, when my schedule gets really chaotic, the training plan gets put on hold and it just becomes about making the most out of my time and the equipment that is available to me.  If fitness is a priority to you, you have to find a way.  Make a new plan, make it simple, be accountable and stay focused so that it will be efficient and effective.

In these situations, I like to run a timer.  Usually I employ an EMOM (every minute on the minute), or a tabata type workout, aligning the time I have available with the allotted rounds.  For example if I have 30 minutes to train, I will do a 30 min EMOM, or rotate through 5 exercises, doing 45 seconds of work 15 seconds of rest before switching movements.  I will do 5 rounds of this with 1 minute of rest in between rounds.  This allows me to be on point with the time I have available to me and it can be done with almost any equipment.  By limiting the rest, it stops me from allowing distractions like my phone or conversations with my peers to interfere with my training.  I like to select movements that target full body and require little to no equipment or set up like burpee pull ups, ball slams or kettlebell exercises.  It’s always an added bonus to have a rower, airbike or even a hill available to use.

Getting in a proper warmup can also be a problem.  To solve this, I often take it easy into the first couple of rounds using them to warm up or work up to weight.  Yes it might cut into my “work” but at my age this is acceptable, because staying fit while avoiding injury is my number one priority.  At the station I have about a hundred yard walk to the fitness area so quite often I will employ a dynamic warm up while en route to the training site.

Below is an example from a week of programming that I used while on a training course.  In this week I had to get my kids to day care then I was off to class for the day.  I also had to pick my kids back up, drop them off at my mother in law’s and then go straight to The Garage Gym to instruct until late at night.  The training centre where I was assigned for the day had basic equipment.  I was provided with 60 minutes for lunch but had to get out of my shirt and tie and then cleaned back up within that time as well.  That left me about 30-35 minutes to really get after it.

Here is how I laid out my week; some of these I came up with on my own and some were Iearned over the years from other Gym Jones Instructors.  Keep in mind, I did not factor in recovery into my lunch hour routines. I knew that I could manage this volume for one week without it killing me, or having an adverse effect on my training in the future.  I was able to do some mobility and prehab work while instructing my evening sessions.  Know your body and put in the recovery when it is necessary.

Monday- Strength

The Trinity (@bobbymaximus)

30 min max pushups, pull ups, dips (aim for 150)

Tuesday – Power Endurance

30 Min EMOM

  1. 5 KB clean and press @ 2×50#KBs
  2. 5 BPU
  3. 300m Run

Wednesday- Strength

30 minute EMOM

5 Goblet squats @ 85# + 10 push ups

Works out to be 150 squats and 300 push ups

Thursday- Power Endurance

10 Cal AirDyne + 5 Knees To Elbows

Max Rounds in 30mins (or whatever time you have available)

If you don’t have a fan bike you can do a 20sec treadmill sprint, 100m Run, 10cal Ski or Row

Friday- Strength


Then: 10-1 KBS ladder 1:1 work:rest


Courtesy of @jay_maxedge

30min EMOM 5 DL @ 225# + 10 push ups


When time is restricted, do as much as you can with what you have.  Accept that you are not always going to have a perfect situation and use the challenge to flourish rather than wither.  Don’t stop programming, but it doesn’t have to be the end all.  Be flexible and adaptable in the gym as well as life, it’s a short ride – don’t waste it.


author: Tony Smith


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