How you can plan ahead to become a morning workout person once and for all, according to certified personal trainer, spin instructor, and Shape fitness director Jaclyn Emerick.

By By Jaclyn Emerick
February 21, 2017

On any given weekday I'm awake in the 5 a.m. hour. I don't have to be in the office until around 10 a.m. Why the extra five hours?

Well, part of the reason I get up so early is to teach cycling classes. But even when I'm not being paid for it or held accountable by a room full of people who are relying on me, I'm still up at the same time for my personal workouts. I do it because it makes me feel better. It energizes me in a way that nothing else can. It focuses me. I've found that whether my alarm goes off at five or eight, I never really want to wake up. So why not just get it over with earlier and make something of that time?

Knowing that I'm one of the few people working out before the sun comes up-and well before most other people I know will even wake up-makes me feel like I'm getting something out of the day that everyone else is missing out on. Not to mention, getting up earlier for a great workout makes me feel way better and more awake than sleeping in and not working out. No brainer.

And really, getting up at 5 a.m. and working out before 6 a.m. is just totally badass. People notice that you do it and are impressed by it. And that can be motivating it itself.

Here's how I plan ahead to make it happen, and what helps me stay committed and consistent:

The Week Before

I schedule my week of workouts. I put everything on my calendar. That way it's just as important as any work meeting or deadline I have throughout the day.

The Night Before

I pack my gym bag and lay out my gear. This saves me 5 or 10 minutes in the early morning of shuffling through drawers and trying to find my wallet or keys. I set two alarms-one for when I need to be getting out of bed and one for 5 minutes before that. Then I do my best to be in bed and powering down between 10 and 10:30 p.m.

The Morning Of

Alarm one goes off around 5 a.m. If I can pop right up I will. I find it's easier to get up and go rather than drag it out by snoozing. But if I slept poorly or got to bed later than usual, I'll snooze the five minutes until alarm two goes off and then get right up. (I'm also super type A so when my alarm goes off and I have the idea to snooze, I tell myself you're better than that.)

I play an upbeat playlist from my phone while I'm getting ready. I wash my face with cold water (it helps to wake me up), drink a glass of water, brush my teeth, put my contacts in, and change into my workout clothes. And definitely no makeup-if you're working out by 6 a.m., I firmly believe it's NOT necessary!

I don't eat breakfast until I'm back (it's something I've learned through trial and error and experimentation with my body and the kinds of workouts I do) so within 20 minutes of my alarm going off I'm out the door.

The Workout

My favorite morning workout is CrossFit, but I do a variety of stuff. I either teach cycling, or take CrossFit, yoga, or a boot-camp or barre class. Some mornings I just go for a three- to six-mile run from my front door. But EVERY weekday I do something. I know that I don't have the same energy level by the end of the day, and if I don't get a workout in first thing, there's a great chance I won't be able to any other time. So it's first thing or never!

I try to arrive at the gym 15 minutes early because I never want to feel rushed. Feeling rushed makes the whole experience feel stressful, and the more stressful it feels the less likely it is you'll want to keep doing it. Getting there early gives me time to put my stuff in a locker and use a foam roller or lacrosse ball to start to warm up muscles and undo tight spots.

After the Workout

I go home for a long shower. Then I make coffee and breakfast (either overnight oats, a smoothie, or avocado toast) and hang with my pup while I watch the news for about 45 minutes. Again, having this time to enjoy breakfast and relax for a bit makes the whole experience better. It's why I don't sleep as late as I can, rush to the gym, then rush right to the office.


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