It took me 2 years after graduating from college to get into a workout routine that works for me. I was an athlete my whole life, so when I finished school and retired from ski racing I found myself totally lost trying to navigate my own fitness-focused lifestyle. I was used to having my workouts built into my daily schedule and having a coach, trainer and teammates there to push me. So, after all of that ended and I was on my own, I had a hard time finding what worked for me, my body, and my new daily responsibilities in my “real life” job.
Because I work full-time in advertising, my day is totally unpredictable. There are days when I can leave the office right at 6-6:30PM, but there’s other times when my to-do list grows so long throughout the day that I’m there until way past 9-10PM. The only thing I know I can expect in my industry is that the work day doesn’t start until usually 9:30AM. So, if I wake up early, that leaves me with plenty of time to work out before my responsibilities call.
I’ve learned there are a few things that make it easier on myself when the 5AM alarm goes off to avoid those “oh I’ll just workout after work” thoughts that lead to 18 snoozes and the inevitable skipped-gym-sesh later in the day. So here’s what I do to help me make it just a liiiiiiittle bit easier:
1. Lay out your clothes the night before.
Think of everything you will need to make your getting-ready process quick and painless. Make it so easy that you could get dressed in the dark if you had to. I’m talking sports bra, tank, spandex crops, socks, underwear, hair elastic, bobby pins, contacts, sweatshirt, jacket, water bottle – EVERYTHING. Put it in a pile and when you roll out of bed you don’t even have to turn your brain on yet. I get ready before I put my contacts in so I’m borderline blind as I get dressed (and yes, I’ve showed up and worked out with my shirt on inside out for this reason).
2. Don’t worry about looking cute.
The early risers at the gym or in your bootcamp class aren’t there to be seen. They’re there to get a kickass workout, leave dripping in sweat, and get on with their day. Don’t even bother with the slightest amount of makeup or hair prep.
And don’t get me wrong, I totally buy into the “if you feel good in your workout gear, you’ll actually make it to the gym” mentality, but there’s a time and a place for that. You know I’m gonna throw on a little tinted moisturizer and mascara with my cutest gym outfit when I strut down Newbury on my way to the studio on a Saturday morning at 9:30AM. But a Thursday at 4:50AM? Not tryna impress anyone (i.e., that time I worked out with my shirt on inside out).
3. Drink water before bed.
Yes, I’m all about hydration while I’m sleeping because it’s healthy, but I also drink water so it helps me wake up in the morning. If I drink a tall glass of water right before bed, I find that it’s easier to wake up after my alarm goes off, because my body starts to naturally tell me to get up…if yaaaaa knowwww what I mean.
4. Find a partner.
Make an early morning date – not just with anyone, but with someone who will push you to actually show up. If you and a friend sign up together, you’ll feel a lot worse about bailing on class if you know she’s showing up at the studio and you’re still in your warm bed. And don’t feel like you have to go and spend the entire time socializing…my sister and I go to my class at 5:30AM at Recycle on Thursday mornings, and we usually don’t even speak a word to each other until after class! We know that we are BOTH there to get a killer workout rather than catch up with each other. We push each other to show up and work hard when we get there (and yes, it was her who noticed that my shirt was on inside out).
And you don’t even have to find a partner who will work out with you to have the same influence. I’ve found that on mornings when I stay at my boyfriend’s apartment it’s a lot easier to get up and go sweat, because he’s usually also waking up to go to his own gym. Make your friend, sister, significant other, or anyone else who you can trust to hold you accountable, and you can do the same for him/her.
5. Reward yourself.
Make your post-class routine special and something that you look forward to. Find what motivates you to push even more, and then reward yourself with whatever that thing is. I promise that protein smoothie or iced latte will taste so much better knowing you sprinted, burpeed, or planked a little longer for it.
Before I became an instructor at Recycle, I used to take the 5:30AM class every Tuesday morning. The 3 hours between when class ended and when I had to be at work were the most peaceful time of my week. I’d slowly stroll back to my apartment, stopping for a coffee and breakfast on the way home, and then take my time getting ready for work feeling energized and relaxed (and in the right mindset to put my work clothes on correctly this time).
So that’s it…as someone who trained myself to be a morning workout person after I didn’t really have a choice, these are the things that work for me. Having a tough time getting yourself out of bed and to the gym in the morning? Try my tricks or use them as inspiration to figure out what works for you. It’s about finding ways to make it easy to follow through. Once you start your workout, I can’t promise it will be a walk in the park, but the least you can do is make it easy to actually show up.
Wanna put my tricks to the test?
Come beat the sun with me at Recycle Studio! I teach Monday mornings at 7AM at our Boston Common studio (9 Newbury St), and at 5:30AM & 6:30AM on Thursday mornings at our South End studio (18 Union Park St).
Photos by: Ashley Herrin
Long sleeve top & 7/8 crop pants: Crane & Lion (for Recycle Studio)