Some of the most successful people started their days in the wee hours of the morning. Many of them began with some sort of physical activity. Tim Cook, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg to name a few, begin their days with a morning sweat session. If your schedule allows it, morning workouts are the optimal.
I may be a bit biased, as I am what they call, a natural “morning person”. However, I have implemented both evening and morning workout routines throughout my life. Hands down, getting it done in the morning takes the cake. Why? Because you’re doing just that: getting it done. You can start your work day knowing that you’ve already done your workout. You have more time after work to catch up on Game of Thrones or focus on other productive tasks that are not work-related (those exist?). You no longer have to muster up the energy to go exercise despite the depletion you’re feeling from a long day’s work.
On top of that, working out in the morning has some physical benefits, too. According to Dr. Scott Collier of Appalachian State University, exercising in the morning has been proven to lower blood pressure. In a recent study conducted on individuals between 40 and 60 years of age, “those who exercised at 7 a.m. experienced about a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure that carried through the remainder of the day. They also had about a 25 percent dip in blood pressure at night, slept longer and had more beneficial sleep cycles than when they exercised at other times of the day.”
For anyone not accustomed to a morning workout routine, it can be quite difficult to hop out of bed when your alarm goes off two hours earlier than normal. Fret not, my friends. As a self-proclaimed professional morning exerciser (that was once an evening exerciser), I’m here to give you some tips and tricks to make sure you don’t leave your friend Susie hanging because you were supposed to meet for spin class but you ‘snoozed’ your alarm.
This is for you, Susie.
Set your coffee the night before.
If you’re sitting there thinking, “well, I don’t drink coffee”. First of all, what? Second of all, I hate to break it to you, but you might need to start. I genuinely think that I would end up on the other side of town on my way to a morning workout if it weren’t for coffee. But that’s neither here nor there.
For those that do drink coffee, setting your coffee pot the night before is a game changer. Not just setting it up, but setting a timer for it to start brewing at a certain time the following morning. You coffee drinkers know that the smell of brewing coffee in the morning is enough to get your tired self out of bed and into your sneakers. That smell, it’s… euphoric.
Even if you don’t drink coffee, maybe your significant other or someone in your household does. Earn some brownie points and set the coffee each night before you go to bed as an extra “alarm” to get you started in the a.m. Just the smell alone can give you the boost you need to get up.
Lay out your clothes the night before.
For some reason, the step of getting dressed in your workout gear in the morning makes a world of a difference. If you’re dressed for a workout, you’re halfway there. Your brain knows that it’s go time.
Laying out your clothes the night before eliminates the obstacle of having to exert thought into what you’ll wear. If you’re really in need of morning obstacle elimination, I recommend wearing your gym clothes to bed (sans sneakers). I know from experience that this method works. When I used to go on early morning runs in the winter time, wearing my clothes to bed allowed me to 1) avoid dealing with being freezing in the morning and not wanting to change my clothes, and 2) get out the door faster. If you really need an extra push, try the ‘sleeping with sneakers thing’. Whatever works.
Pick a buddy to sweat with.
This is when Susie comes in handy. Picking a workout buddy to hold you accountable is a great way to make sure you make it to class in the morning. There have been countless times when I’ve been utterly exhausted (and/or lazy) and have wanted to skip a workout, but kept my word because I knew my co-workers were counting on me to show up.
Nothing gets you out of bed more than knowing someone is waiting on you. According to a 2011 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, results showed that “the perceived exercise of close others is associated with one’s exercise habits, with friend’s exercise only being associated with own exercise when there is perceived support to do so.”
In other words, you and your workout partner’s exercise habits have a positive influence on each other. Not only does your sweat buddy provide you with accountability, but you can support and encourage each other along the way. Nothing gets you going during early morning sprints like your best friend clapping in your face, am I right? And you do NOT want to show up to work well rested after you left Susie hanging. She will not be happy, trust me.
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Schedule your workouts like work meetings.
Scheduling your fitness classes like work meetings will help you feel like they are more concrete. You will be less likely to cancel or not show up because you’ve ingrained them into your weekly routine, and you would never no-show to a business meeting, would you? (Maybe don’t answer that.)
Something the Peerfit team implements is adding fitness classes to our company Google Calendar. This way, not only does the team know what times we are unavailable, but anyone can join each other if they’d like, and it helps keep ourselves publicly accountable to what we’ve signed up for. On top of this, if you’re a dinosaur like me and still use a weekly planner (that’s right… pen and paper. Remember those?), physically writing out your weekly workout schedule among your workload helps you recognize those fitness classes as ‘mandatory’. Since I wrote it in pen, clearly, I can’t erase it.
Host a solo dance party.
That’s right. A solo dance party. If you wake up in the morning and envision yourself sweating through the boxing class you signed up for, only to desire your bed sheets even more, you might need to prescribe yourself a dance party. Grab a speaker, your laptop, your phone, whatever you have, and start playing some music to pump you up. You might be surprised as to how well this works. My neighbors may hate me, but I sure do make it to class in the morning, and that’s all that matters, right? Right.
Start building a playlist of songs you know will hype you up and get you ready to give it your all in class. Whether you get energized to James Taylor (no judgement zone), or you know that Katy Perry will get you going (maybe a little judgement), figure out what moves you and add it all into a list for those days when you ‘literally can’t even’.
Whatever your issue with exercising in the morning is, there is likely a solution. The biggest challenge is creating a habit out of that lifestyle. Once you’ve created that habit, it will come naturally to you, and in no time, you’ll be using your after work time in a way that you prefer.