How to Exercise at Your Desk

Leandra Medine | June 11, 2015

Have enough energy to work out, not at your desk?  Try this.

I know, I know, you know, I know. I’ve been saying that a lot lately. It’s sweet because on the one hand I really feel like we know each other, you know? Like you can reliably expect what I’m going to say and feel like, “Ha, ha, ha, oh, Leandra! There you go, talking about being cool or how much fun resort season can be, or, there you also go! Treating exercising like it is your second coming of age.” On the latest clause, here’s the thing: I have no choice.

The way in which metropolitan humanity interacts socially these days is while exchanging notes on the treadmill. Meeting for a spin class. Discussing rising glutes. Drinking the subsequent smoothies.

And for the most part, I get it. Here I only started exercising like a year ago (yes, it took 25 years, no I don’t regret the preliminary quarter life-long-state of being sedentary) but I have to say, it feels cool. My thighs are rock hard and my butt practically flirts with my shoulder blades because it has been lifted so significantly. But that’s not even the half of it. I AM IN A GREAT MOOD! When the sun doesn’t shine, the resistance bands do! When the threat of rain looms violently overhead, I just look to my weights and train. Train, I tell ya! Get fit.

Oh, who am I kidding? Working out sucks. I favor sleep over leg lifts 10/10 times. Drinks over bicep curls 11/10 times and serving jury duty over burpees. Point blank. But summer is close, my friends. So close, in fact, that I can smell it on my knees. And that means skin — lots of it, in the flesh! On display! Out for public consumption. Which might possibly trick you into thinking that you need to prioritize exercise over living well (sleeping, drinking, jury duty), but I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. Okay? All you have to do is procrastinate while at work and perform the following five subtle fitness movements, modeled by the team to ensure tighter skin.

I think tighter skin is one of the grosser phrases I’ve typed out.

1. Kegels at your desk


These are so insouciant and mysterious that no one knows you’re doing them. You might not even know you’re doing them but here is the deal: you are doing them by simple virtue of clenching your inner thigh muscles together — as though you are holding in pee or something. Clench and unclench in pulsating intervals until boom: your inner thighs are no longer angel foreskin (now they’re rock hard gem stones!) and you can withstand a 4 hour drive after 10 bottles of beer on the wall.

You will know how well you’ve done them the next time you attempt coitus.

2. Wall sits against the nearest wall (or column)


Sure, someone in your office might wonder why you’ve decided to turn yourself into a human desk, but that is only because he or she has never experienced the mythic power that is the ability to remain in squat-formation for upward of three seconds. By doing this in intervals of, let’s say 5 minutes (not easy! I know!), there is no doubt in my mind that come time for Iron Man (or, you know, your weekend in Montauk with Amelia and her freaky cats), you will feel like the best version of yourself.

3. Side twists in your chair


The thing about obliques is that everyone ignores them, when in reality, they’re the most important part of getting tighter skin. (There’s that gross-ass phrase again.) Why, without side twists (left, right, right, left, whatever), how do you expect to engage yours abs’ peripheral vision? Pray tell.

4. Raise da roof! 


This is a simple bicep exercise, and while you might feel self-conscious executing it in an office environment, I ask you to reconsider. Why? Because raising da roof might very well be how you become the office’s most-loved employee. How? Figure this: my lunch just arrived. If Amelia raised da roof every time my lunch just arrived I would feel like she really cares about my being well-nourished. Thanks Amelia!

5. Leg lifts


One more for your legs because you have so many shorts. Pretend they are made of wood and make like an isometric tree. Hold them off the ground then lower your right foot, then left, while keeping the opposite one raised. Do this for two minutes then call me and say “thanks.”

If you complete all of these exercises, go ahead and fuel up on some pancakes. If you’d rather use shopping as your cardio, I don’t blame you. I’ve been doing it, and I’ve made some resolutions. In addition to lifting your butt, squats also lift your spirits — especially if you’re having performance anxiety. You know what else you can do at work? Indulge in some pampering.

  • Emily

    ——— SSSSSSoooooo Extra Cute profit with manrepeller ——- ——— Keep Reading

  • Cassandra


  • Quinn Halman

    You go, girls

  • Allie Fasanella

    Amelia that’s the best gif ever and i’m wearing base the same shirt today.

    • Amelia Diamond


  • I once told myself I would do 10 squats each time I took a bathroom break. That lasted for 2 rounds of squats. If you do it, though, and use the bathroom every hour or so you could do around 80 squats/day without even hitting a gym!

  • AlexaJuno

    The Kegel gif killed me.

    • Marianne Ronsse

      me too!

  • Marianne Ronsse

    Kegles feel a bit perv’ don’t they? I mean, I suppose that’s why you have this pervert look on your face while you’re doing them and looking at us, your readers, at the same time… Or maybe that’s just your regular way of looking across your desk at work. Please do tell.

    • dustUP

      It’s not a look of a perv, it’s a look of a happy woman with strong pelvic floor and hard inner tights!! If all my colleagues would have a Kegel grin on their faces, world would be a better place.

      • Marianne Ronsse

        hé hé
        you’re right!

  • parkzark

    I used to do child’s pose on our weird bathroom shelf thing at work. COUNTING IT.

  • I wish there was a private area at work where I can go and do a downward dog

  • Grace Lee

    Where are those chairs from?? The ones for the conference desk? #2.

    • Amelia Diamond

      the copper ones? blue dot

      • Grace Lee

        thanks!! 🙂

  • Wow! I can already feel myself getting fit. A part 2 anytime soon?

    Laila | Townhouse Palette

  • Sarah

    Me after reading this (my desk mate was only 2/10 amused)

    • Aydan

      props on the outfit and chocolate!

  • Veronica Szafranski

    Where can I find those shoes in the last GIF? They would complete me (and probably help lift my butt in tandem with all those leg lifts)!

    • Lara

      I second that!!

    • Giselle Rodriguez Cid

      Those espadrilles are amazing! Please tell us, Leandra!

      • Esther Levy

        they are from Topshop and they feel like foot cushions

        • Veronica Szafranski

          Thank you!!!

        • or as jenny slate would say, “angel’s titty skins”

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    Sometimes I clench my butt at my desk, do you guys notice????

  • Those espadrilles are the perfect ankle-weights.

  • Abigail

    Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

  • Sara

    these gifs are everythingg.

  • Shannon Aksel

    “Abs’ peripheral vision” <- you've gained a new reader! Haha!

  • Jacqueline Ho

    Where are those black platform sandals from in exercise numero 5?!?! They look so comfortable 🙂

  • Mel Allgaier

    Leandras embroidered blouse is amazing! Where’s it from? I need to know please…!

    • s smith

      I need to know as well!


    If you’re dieting at the present then you will know just how tough it really is. You need to watch John Barbans great FREE short video on LIPTIN and the Metabolism it’s a real eye opener on why it can be so tough to lose weight even when your eating the right foods. < click for video

  • Durged

    < ✜✱✪✪✲✜ +manrepeller +*********….. < Now Go R­e­­a­d M­o­r­e


  • literally the only reason i’m still following Crazy Jewish Mom on insta is because it always reminds me to do my kegels.

  • I love how I always act surprised (in a good way) when I read a new article of yours and obsess over how much I love your writing style. Doing some ‘leg lifts’ during this comment so I think I was going for being productively sincere! x

    Alicia |

  • s smith

    I need to know where Leandra’s shirt is from! You’re killing me here

  • Violet Banks

    Thanks for helping with the NYE back to wok blues!


  • Coralie Doucet-Côté

    “my butt practically flirts with my shoulder blades because it has been lifted so significantly. ”
    You’re so fun to read, seriously, your work is amazing!

  • Vicky

    Thanks for these exercises, I’m sure to get some funny looks giving them a go at work haha, but all in the name of good health! I’ve gone from working full time as a Personal Trainer to working as a writer sat at a desk all day, and let me tell you, the difference is phenomenal! I will certainly be giving all these moves a go in the office and trying to move as much as possible. I’ve found using the desk helpful as well as my office is small, so I try these exercises

  • Beatriz Lopez

    and where can I get those sandals!!? 😀