Many people believe that in order to get in an effective workout, you have to spend hours in the gym. Not to mention, the time it takes to pack, get ready, commute to and from the gym…all things considered, it contributes to the greatest excuse known to man:

“I don’t have the time to work out!”

But why? Is it because you hear people bragging about how they spend hours in the gym, and know that this can’t be you? Or, because you know you neither have nor want a gym membership? Maybe it’s because you think a proper fitness regiment is something that can’t be achieved at home?

While having that gym can definitely make your fitness goals easier to accomplish, the person who is truly tight on time can still find creative ways to not only burn the calories, but build the muscle, develop the power, stability, strength… all of it.

Here, I’ll share with you four tips to fitting in fitness when you’re short on time:

1) Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted DVD. Workout DVDs like Insanity and the P90X series come complete with full calendars meant to guide you through, as if you had a trainer at your swanky health club. Differently-structured routines – some days, calisthenics; some days, cardio burn; some days, yoga – not only seek to provide variety, but touch on multiple different components of improving fitness. You also might start looking a little more toned, too.

2)  Speaking of calisthenics, a little high intensity interval training combined with a few pieces of at-home workout equipment can make a massive difference. Tabatas workouts – giant bursts of activity interspersed with small bouts of rest times throughout – can be done while you’re waiting for your spouse to get out of the shower. Take a quick 5-minute interval workout – say, 40 seconds of jumping jacks, 25 seconds rest, 40 seconds of push ups, 25 seconds rest, 40 seconds of jumping rope, 25 seconds rest, 40 seconds squats, 25 seconds rest, and a final 40 seconds of steam engines – and sneak that in a few times a day when you’re feeling tight on time? Rest assured, you’ll start to see – and feel – a difference.

3)  Don’t overlook the value of a good walk, or get adventurous and start trying to run. Outside your front door, you’ll find an oasis of ground. Go run on it. Check out Couch-to-5K if you’ve never run before, and want some help on how to get started. All it takes, is a good pair of running shoes and a half-hour of your time, and you’re in there.

4) Use your time in the actual gym WISELY. Suppose you’ve decided, “I’m gonna go to the gym anyway, even if I’ve only got 15 minutes to spend in there.” How should you use that time? Lift weights, and lift as heavily as you can. The more muscle you have, the more effectively your body can move, and – because carrying a pound of muscle allows your body to burn more calories than a pound of fat – the more calories your body will burn outside of the gym. Lifting weights is a long-term investment into a very long-term plan – living well.

The nasty reality of fitness and healthy living is that often, when people say the phrase “I don’t have time,” it’s more than likely masking some other far more important and frustrating struggle toward fitness. People often have the time, but would rather spend it on something “relaxing,” instead of something fitness-focused. It often takes just a teeny investment – 5 minutes at a time – to produce great results, to encourage someone to carve out enough space in their schedule for fitness. Try out these four tips, and see how much better you’ll feel. As I always say, your body will undoubtedly thank you for it!

Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she blogs her journey of losing over 150lbs. A trainer certified in women’s fitness, fitness nutrition and weight loss coaching, she can be found on Facebook and Twitter.