You know those people you see out jogging every morning? Or those people who finish exercising at the gym before you’re even out of bed? Or worse, your friends that post gym selfies or yoga poses with the sunrise as their backdrop? They are what we call “morning workout people”. Maybe they drive you nuts, but you’re probably a little bit jealous of them too. Where the heck do they get the energy and motivation to be a morning workout person?
I used to totally envy those people. The thought of waking up and working out seemed totally out of reach. But now, a year later, I’m one of them. I wake up at 5:45 (and some days at 5:20) to start my day and sweat it out. If you’re familiar with Tone It Up, my favourite online fitness community, the morning workout is so important that it has a name: the “Bootycall”. And it’s a daily occurrence, not just a few times a week or only weekdays! So how did I go from never exercising in the morning (or at all, for that matter) to putting in a morning workout every damn day?
Walk Before You Run
(No pun intended…)
My first foray into morning exercise was actually a few months before I discovered Tone It Up. Last spring, I started attending 7am yoga classes at my office gym. To be honest, this was the only yoga class offered — otherwise I definitely would have gone for an evening option! The promise of stretching and savasana made the concept bearable. Turns out, I actually really liked morning yoga, and even wrote a post about it here!
But then they cancelled the yoga class. (Mostly because I was often the only one to show up. Go figure.) So I had to find another way to practice yoga. That summer, I decided to complete the 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene challenge. The only way to consistently fit yoga into my schedule each day was to do it first thing in the morning.
The videos in the 30 Days of Yoga series have helpful names that suggest the theme of that day’s practice. And even though I probably shouldn’t have, I definitely checked the name of the video the night before. Seeing a video called “Gentle Yummy Yoga” was a lot easier to wake up for than “Six Pack Abs”. Just sayin’.
By the end of my 30 (err, 44) days, I felt much better equipped to wake up to stretch and strengthen my body and soul. But I took a long break between 30-day yoga stints, and even then, I wasn’t exactly breaking a sweat every single morning.
Then along came Tone It Up, and it totally kicked my ass.
Make It a Habit
The only thing that can truly prepare you for morning workouts is just doing it. But I’ve found that the hardest part isn’t the workout itself — it’s getting into the habit of waking up for it.
Tone It Up daily workouts tend to have two parts: video + toning moves, cardio + video, cardio + toning moves, or two videos back to back. When I first started following along, I would pick one part to do in the morning, and save the other for the evening. Unfortunately, my work hours don’t always allow for that kind of flexibility. So now I try to get my entire workout in first thing in the morning. In my experience among the people I know, those of us that work out in the morning tend to be more consistent than evening exercisers.
But even if something comes up or I’m feeling sick or lethargic in the morning, the key is to just do something. Maybe your “Bootycall” that day will just be yoga or a walk around the block. That’s totally fine, and definitely better than skipping your morning workout altogether. Keep up the habit and your body will get used to it!
Food was one of my greatest excuses for not being a morning workout person. Growing up, I knew that I needed to eat something before exercising so I don’t pass out. (Or something like that.) But I also knew that exercise right after eating would give me stomach cramps. But after eating breakfast and waiting an hour or two… it’s not first thing in the morning anymore!
Right after I joined Tone It Up and its Nutrition Plan, I learned that the only mandatory pre-workout fuel is water. You can add half a banana or a piece of toast with almond butter if working out on an empty stomach makes you feel woozy. And that’s it. The trick is to then refuel with a protein-filled breakfast within half an hour of your morning workout. This strategy has worked for me for the past nine months, and I’m glad I learned about it when I did!
Attend a Morning Exercise Class
Whether it’s running, pilates, yoga, spinning, boxing, CrossFit, or whatever you’re into, being in a group setting can kick your morning workout into overdrive.
Personally, I can’t exercise on a stationary bike by myself. The second my legs start to burn, I slow down or take off some resistance to make it easier. But in a spin class, with a trainer’s direction and the group’s collective energy, I can push myself and make the most of my workout. This is especially true in the morning, so my weekly 6am spin class is a great addition to my morning workout routine. (As an aside, make sure you get in a good warm-up before starting the actual class. In the mornings, when your body is still sleepy, this is crucial to not burning out!)
Join a “Morning Workout Person” Community
I have a Tone It Up-specific Instagram account that I use to “check in” with my workouts or healthy meals. This is one online community that will never call you crazy for waking up early every morning to work out. Rather, they’ll encourage you to stick with it! You can join a group online or in person, but either way, having accountability and support will keep you motivated for the long run. (No pun intended…) You can even connect with the people you met at your morning exercise class from my previous suggestion — they’re guaranteed to be morning workout people!
Are you a morning workout person? What are your strategies for breaking a sweat to start your day?