Freelancers Who Exercise, and How I do it

Words and pictures by Adrian Cartwright

Freelancers Who Exercise, and how I do it


This blog is about fitting exercise into a freelancers busy day. I’m one of those freelancers who exercise, and how I do it is easy. We will look at the pros and cons of exercising during working hours and suitable sports that accommodate the working lifestyle.

illustrator in the UK

*Just a note

I’m a freelance illustrator and the illustrations in this blog are all exercise illustrations I’ve been commissioned to draw. You could say I’ve been involved with learning about exercise and it’s different ways to engage and instruct for over 25 years. So feel free to take a closer look at them here or get in touch once you’ve read this blog.

About me

So here’s a little about me and my working / exercise life and others useful tips that will help if you’re trying to introduce daily exercise into your life. So exercise isn’t something you normally think about when you think of life as a freelancer. But think about it, freelancers often work from home and most of their time is spent sitting down, either writing, coding or something like illustrating like myself.

Some background on my relationship with exercise from back in the day. There was a time when I didn’t really need to exercise, those days when I weighed about 10 stone (70kg) and food was something I did on special occasions… well that’s not quite true, but I did seem to run on thin air back then. Well perhaps more like Air, Lager and Marlborough Lights.


Swimming the early days.

Back in the day, I started to swim, and I wasn’t very good considering I taught myself at the age of 12 years old. And only capable of about 3 lengths right up until I was 23.

One Sunday at my local pool, I manage my normal 3 lengths before a rest. But instead of stopping I turned and carried on. I did a forth length, then another. This was without stopping gasping for air and a rest.

I managed to do a total of 10 lengths without stopping, and 32 in total in the pool that day. I later found out that 32 was about half a mile. Well, I was hooked! The following week I swam 32 lengths without stopping… I was super-human ! Perhaps not, but it ignited something in me that I’ve never lost. A love for swimming.

I always enjoyed playing in water, like most kids, but this new ability, and a sport I honestly enjoyed but never thought I’d be any good at. It made me feel GREAT. But that’s enough about me…

Freelancers who exercise.

I know a few freelancers who enjoy a good exercise. And some of them run early morning and others evenings… a sport where the weather is probably the only interruption to their planned exercise. And it’s available all the time. The same goes for Cycling and pumping iron in your local gym or bedroom. Pretty much everything else needs to be booked, or is only available at certain times of the day, and days of the week.

This is where it can get tricky, especially for freelancers, who need to be flexible for their customers. But also have to fit around a timetable for their sport.

folio image of illustration. illustration of a woman running on a treadmill
Exercise illustrations illustration of exercise instructions for US market


This is where some discipline is needed to make it fit, but the restrictions can be a positive. For instance I go Lane swimming at a certain time, because of pool availability. But think if I was able to swim anytime, perhaps I’d put it off, and off again. It is so easy to put work in front of the not so important exercise, and for good reason. But then you’re more likely to give it a pass that day. “Work just got on top of me, and I was compelled to complete it. And then the swimming pool lane session has ended. So I’ll go tomorrow”.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t skive off work to exercise, and I’m sure many of the freelancers I know, are far from skivers… But my reason to down tools and exercise, is that I only have that slim time slot available, and I can always work an extra hour to catch up.


Ultimately the exercise will take time, and sometimes it clashes with work time. I recommend making an exercise schedule, and it’s easily done with calendars you can find on our smartphones. This will help to measure and manage your time away from freelancing and help motivation to attend or complete the exercise. Adding the schedule will take a little adjustment as time goes on, and you will see what works best. But I honestly recommend doing it, if only to get a clear idea of what time is used for exercise and how it impacts on your working day.

If you’re sitting down most of the day. It’s really important to get up and move about.

Here’s a few tips:

– Apple Watch has an hourly reminder to move about… and I’m sure that other wearables do similar… but even a clock or timer can do that.

– Booking yourself in to a class or session is also a good motivator, and often necessary. 

– Get your kit ready by the door, or if you’re working from home, get dressed ready to exercise… BTW, I don’t put my trunks on!

– Arrange to meet with others, this is a very good motivator.

– Strava is a brilliant social network based on exercise, it’s highly worth trying it out. Here’s the link to Strava

Perhaps you have a helpful tip to motivate your exercise ? 
If you’re interested in the illustrations in this blog, and want to see more. 
Simply goto the folio in the main menu.
hero shot Adrian Cartwright freelance illustrator, Graphic illustrator, technical illustrator, graphic Artist, instruction drawer