My mom and sister have an ongoing battle about the hour to which my sister sleeps. Libby is pro status at sleeping well past noon. When you’re 16, it’s summer break, and your life revolves around boy bands, junk TV, and “this really good old movie” (Mean Girls… who feels ancient?), you have to stay up well into the early morning hours of the next day, which results in sleeping past the sun’s peak time in the sky.
I used to be Libby. In college, I discovered that the Disney Channel played “old” movies at 3AM Friday and Saturday nights while on RA duty one weekend. A friend and I got into a habit of watching Zenon and Johnny Tsunami instead of going to bed at a respectable hour. There were also sorority functions, football games, nights out on The Strip… There were a lot of reasons to stay up late and sleep all day.
These days, 7AM is “sleeping in.”
I got into the habit of 6AM workouts a couple of years ago. I went to my first-ever barre class at 7:15 on a Saturday morning because I thought it would be less crowded and fewer people would witness me make a fool out of myself. Turns out, early mornings are a really popular time for barre classes. I started scheduling myself for 6AM classes originally because of evening time constraints and if I was paying that much money, I was going to go to class.
But, I found I loved the 6AM workout. I loved feeling accomplished before ever going into the office. I loved the energy boost. It’s a habit that stuck.
And, as a bonus, you get to see some absolutely stunning sunrises when you’re up before dawn.
It can be intimidating to workout at 6AM. The sheer thought of having to wake up that early is enough to put people off. I’ve perfected a routine of getting up and out of bed that works for me, however. Here are a few tips on how to workout at 6AM.
Set Out your Clothes
One of the last things I do before bed is set out my workout clothes. When the alarm sounds, I can roll out of bed and start pulling on clothes without rummaging through my drawers in search of this bra or that tank. In the winter months, I even make sure my jacket is within reach. Whatever makes it easier to grab and go at quarter to six in the morning.
Prep Your Bag
I don’t usually need a gym bag as I have time to come home and shower before going to my “real” job. On the mornings I go straight to the office, I pack my bag the night before with a change of clothes, makeup, shoes, even my jewelry. My office has a couple of showers, so I have a bag of travel-sized toiletries I can grab when needed. Don’t forget to pack a towel!
Set Your Alarm
Confession: Last Thursday, I went to a Chris Stapleton concert. I got home around 11:30 PM, packed my bag, laid out my gym clothes, filled my water bottle, and even threw a snack in my bag. I was ready for leg day at The Gym. I proceeded to go to bed – and not set my alarm. I woke up at 7:38 AM to my tiny dog standing on my chest with a ball in his mouth, ready to play.
A trick I use to ensure I wake up is to put my alarm clock out of reach so I have to get up. I use my iPhone, but I also have a battery-operated alarm clock. I put it on my desk so I have to go vertical to turn it off.
While my iPhone alarm is great, I use the Sleep Cycle app in its place. It monitors sleep and wakes you up gradually during a given time frame. I highly recommend it.
Consider A Snack
I used to go straight from the bed to the studio without water, a snack, or anything else. I’ve traded in that habit for one that involves grabbing a snack on my way out the door. I put an RXbar or something similar on the counter next to a water bottle so I can grab them as I head out. I get a little energy boost and my blood sugar stabilizes.
Find What You Like
Here’s the deal. I love HIIT workouts. Love ’em. I don’t do them at 6AM. I’m not nearly as productive or efficient at HIIT at 6AM. Barre or weight lifting? Absolutely. Find what works for you and accept that its okay not to be one of “those people” who can Soul Cycle before the sun is up.
Just Do It
Ultimately, you just have to do it – get out of bed, put on your gym clothes, and handle it. After a while, it becomes habit and those early mornings don’t feel so early anymore.
Are you an early bird or an evening warrior when it comes to working out?