By Kim Struglinski (’12), Yoga and barre teacher in Nashville, TN

After working as a Wake Forest Fellow, Kim went on to earn a Master’s in Higher Education and worked in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Vanderbilt University for 3.5 years. During that time she discovered her passion for teaching group fitness classes and recently made the leap to the fitness industry full-time.

Kim Struglinski head shot photo

Kim Struglinski (’12)

Taking care of yourself can feel like a full-time job. When I was in graduate school pursuing my master’s degree, it took a lot of energy and planning to coordinate my part-time job, my classes, work on my thesis, and find a way not to collapse on the couch with a bag of candy at the end of the night. After graduating I worked as an Admissions Counselor at Vanderbilt University for three years, which meant working a lot of nights and weekends and traveling about 25% of the year.

I suffer from chronic migraines and know that the best way to care for my migraines is to move my body daily and get enough sleep. Movement also helps me manage stress, and just makes me feel like a better person!  It has taken me a few years to find the most effective mix of movement in my busy schedule, so here are three tips for making time for yourself in your busy schedule.

  1. Try something that you’ve never done, or never thought you would ever enjoy. I grew up as a horseback rider, which is quite an individual pursuit. I never thought group sports or group fitness were for me; I figured I would always be happiest working out on my own. I finally tried a free barre class after much stress about whether I would stick out like a sore thumb, and I ended up loving it. Since then I’ve tried classes from spinning to climbing and everything in between. I’ve learned a lot about myself: that I’m stronger than I thought I was, I love a class with a great soundtrack, and cardio will never be my favorite workout. You may not like every class you take (you probably won’t, actually) but you will learn a lot about yourself in the process.
  2. Put your wellbeing on your calendar. Take a few moments at the beginning of each week to look at your calendar for the week ahead and find the times when you know you realistically can take some time for yourself. For example, if you know the only thing you want to do after work is come home and crawl in bed, it’s probably not the best idea to plan to exercise at night. Once you narrow down the times you can work out, put them on your calendar. And do not cancel on yourself. Think about how you feel when one of your friends cancels on you last minute…isn’t it a bummer? Treat yourself how you want your friends to treat you – and that includes your workouts! Also included in this step: scheduling (and keeping) appointments that keep you feeling great such as your doctor, your dentist, and your therapist.
  3. Don’t be afraid to pick up a side gig. This is honestly, hands-down, my favorite tip for building your community, saving some money or even making some money, and staying fit. I worked at two different fitness studios last year in addition to my 8-5 job.  To be perfectly honest, I started out working in fitness because I wanted the free membership, but my passion has since grown into a full-time job of its own. I’ve met some of my closest friends and best mentors from working and teaching at two different studios. If you’re on a budget or looking to meet more people, ask your favorite local gym or studio if they would be able to trade membership for working the front desk. Another option would be to trade your skills and expertise for a membership. Plenty of studios are looking for help with social media, accounting, marketing, and more, so if you have skills that you think would benefit others, go ahead and offer them up!

These are just three of the ways I have made time to prioritize my wellbeing over the past few years. My last few words of advice: be kind to yourself. Notice what your body and mind need. Maybe one week that is a handful of intense HIIT classes, and another week it’s a cheeseburger. It’s all about balance! I hope these tips help you find that ever-elusive balance in your life.