There’s waking up early to work out… and then there’s waking up to work out at 4 a.m. (If you’re not a morning person, you just died at the thought alone.) Truth: It takes a special type of person to wake up at the crack of dawn for a sweat session. But with the end of the year sneaking up and the holiday season in full swing, your work calendar and social schedule are about to blow up. If you’re a strictly-sweat-at-night kind of girl, now might be the time to embrace the morning workout. It doesn’t have to be before the sun rises, but consider signing up for a 7 a.m. class at your go-to studio, and you might come away with a new favorite instructor. (Not to mention, science says waking up earlier can change your life.)
Not sure how to get started? Below, seven women who get up nearly every day at 4-in-the-freaking-morning share how they find the energy to break sweat while we sleep—without hating their lives or falling asleep at the office.
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"I keep my alarm in my bathroom."—Macy Vonderschmidt, 22
After graduating from college, I realized I had absolutely zero motivation or energy to lift or run after a full day of work. So I started experimenting with what it would be like to get it out of the way super early. It took me about a month to adjust, but my largest tip? Place your phone out of reach. I keep my phone in my bathroom, so when the alarm goes off I’m FORCED to wake up and get out of bed to turn it off. (Also try this snooze-proof Red Bull alarm app.) I would say 95 percent of the time that works for me—and the other 5 percent? I cozy back up in bed. Because sometimes it’s just not happening—and that’s okay. I feel incredible coming into work knowing that my workout is already done, I’m caffeinated, and have taken my dog for a nice walk. Then, I can use the rest of the day to focus on everything else in my life.
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"It's when nothing can get in the way of my workout."—Kayla Coffey, 28
I work out in the morning because nothing gets in your way at 4 or 5 a.m. except yourself. Not family, not partners, not work, not chores. The first couple of weeks I was tired, but I just did it. After a few weeks, I was able to get up earlier and earlier without hesitation. It helped me develop discipline that’s carried over into the rest of my life. My advice: Stick with it for at least two weeks by signing up for early morning classes with a cancellation fee, finding a morning accountability buddy, writing down your goals, packing your bag the night before, and drinking water first thing in the morning. Trust me, there’s no better feeling than being done your workout at 6 a.m. before the world is even out of bed.
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"I remind myself that it's the only chance I have for my WOD."—Ella McDaniels, 24
Five days a week, I’m up for CrossFit by 4 a.m. I work at a hospital, so my hours are really unpredictable. If I don’t get it done straight away, there’s a really excellent chance I’d miss the afternoon or night classes. It was hard getting up that early at first, but I never regretted it and noticed that I felt better throughout my day. So I kept doing it again and again and again. My advice is to give your body time to adjust to getting up and working out so early. It may be hard at first, but stick with it, and you’ll be glad you did. Oh, and go to bed early!
"I count down from three when my alarm goes off."—Rachel Turner, 24
As a busy mom and business owner, sometimes the only possible way I can get a workout in is if I do it at 4:30 a.m. before my son wakes up. It’s not ideal, and there are some days I certainly hit snooze too many times and miss my chance. (If you can relate, you need to read this: Fit Moms Share How They Really Make Time for Workouts) To help the wake-up process, I use the three, two, one rule; when I hear my alarm I count down from three and get up, no matter what. (And that means no scrolling through my emails!) My largest piece of advice is to pick a form of exercise you really like. It’s way simpler to get up when you’re not dreading the workout. Whether I’m doing a 10-minute AMRAP, yoga, or a longer workout, movement makes my body feel more grounded, focused, and empowered throughout the day.
"I place a coffeemaker with a timer in my bedroom."—Stef Bishop, 34
Honestly, when I first started to get up early, it was a nightmare for two full weeks. (Also see the super-relatable struggles of this fitness Instagrammer who tried to become a morning person.) Then I started to settle into a routine and saw the benefits—physically and mentally. The key to my success is preparation. I make sure my clothes were packed the night before and that my food is ready to grab from the refrigerator. I keep water by my bed and drink it as soon as my alarm goes off. That way, if I try to press snooze, I won’t be in bed for long before my bladder gets me out from under the sheets. I even go as far as putting a coffeemaker with a timer in my bedroom. It may seem weird to others, but it gets me up and sweating before the sun rises. With everything plotted like that, I can get out of my house within 15 minutes of waking up. (Take a closer look at many fitness trainers’ morning routines, too.)
If you’re just getting started, try plotting your workout the night before, enlisting a friend to train with you in the a.m. Place your alarm across your bedroom, and place some tunes on as soon as you wake up to get you moving.
"I get up because if I don't, I won't be able to go the rest of the day."—Sonya Marie Reis, 30
I get up because my body and my health rely on it. I have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and two other autoimmune diseases. Two years ago, I got so sick that I couldn’t walk on my own most days, and had to use a cane or a walker. It took a while for me to recover and re-learn how to walk again, and some days it’s still hard. I wake up to exercise really early because if I don’t, it’s hard for my body to go fluidly the rest of the day. Getting out of bed when you’re exhausted and it’s freezing outside is tough, but I tell myself “now or never” and repeat it like a mantra. For me, it’s right: If I place it off, I really will never feel my best later. (Here’s a whole list of morning mantras to get you started.)
"I never let myself reckon about how early it is."—Christine Cody, 27
Waking up early to work out used to sound like the worst possible thought to me. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would do it—that is until I tried it. It took about five days before I fell in like. So, I started working out at 5 a.m. before work four or five days a week, and I’ll never go back. Now, when I skip a morning workout, I can clearly feel myself dragging. My largest piece of advice is to don’t reckon. The more time you give yourself to reckon about what you’re about to do (get out from under the covers), the more likely you’ll be to keep snoozing and “start tomorrow.”
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This article originally appeared on Shape.com.
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