Thirty minutes is all it takes.

If you can commit to working out 30 minutes at least three times a week, you can greatly improve your fitness level.

“I think 30 minutes is actually plenty of time to stay fit if you push yourself,” said Seo Kelleher, owner of CO2Fit and a partner in the TURN Cardio Jam Studio in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition.

For some reason, we typically think we need an hour. Then, you add on the time it takes to get to and from the gym or workout area, and it becomes a time commitment of at least an hour and a half.

For many of us, with jobs and families and other obligations, that’s just too much. So we give up, saying we don’t have time to work out.

While a longer workout can be beneficial, and may be necessary for someone training for a marathon or triathlon, it’s not the only way to go.

“For the exercise newbie,” Kelleher said, “the frequency (of workouts) is more important than the length.”

Maybe you don’t even have half an hour to exercise. That’s OK. Go hard for 15 minutes. But do it several times a week.

Before becoming a certified fitness and nutrition coach, Kelleher was a marketing professional with a busy travel schedule.

When she was on the road, she would often work out just 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night.

“As long as you’re doing something, you should give yourself credit,” she said.

Just make sure you’re making some time, even if it’s in short increments, for exercise.

“It’s all in the balance,” she said. “Don’t say, ‘I’ll wait until I have more time,’ because two or three weeks will go by and then you’ll feel like a failure.”

Kelleher runs an early morning CO2Fit Express session at the TURN studio on Thursdays. It’s 30 minutes of cardiovascular and strength work in an interval training format, starting at 6:30 a.m.

By 7 in the morning, everyone has a healthy glow and has knocked out several rounds of challenging exercise stations.

Kelleher said, “The high-intensity interval workout was never meant to be an extended period of time.”

So it works, in just 30 minutes.

Because of today’s busy schedules, the 30-minute workout has exploded in popularity across the country. In addition to the gym and outdoor fitness sessions, there are hundreds of 30-minute exercise videos available, for every exercise format from yoga to boot camp. Many of them are free for viewing on YouTube.

Clearly, the tools and the time are available to you, if you choose to use them.

Don’t put off exercise. Get it in, little bits at a time.

“It’s less scary that way,” Kelleher said.



Rob Welk had a hard time pulling on his socks before he discovered yoga. “I didn’t look anything like this,” he said with a laugh. “My belly was out to here,” he added, motioning several inches in front of his now-flat midsection.



Maria Howard is a group exercise instructor for the YMCA of Greater Richmond and the University of Richmond Weinstein Center. Her column runs every other week in Sunday Flair.

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