Up and At ‘em

Just do it. Up and at ‘em. Carpe diem. Simple, powerful statements that are easier said than done, right?


I’ve always been pretty OK with early(-ish) mornings, but I never thought I’d be the person who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to go to the gym. That changed, though – mainly by necessity – when I was living in Southern California and commuting to a job an hour away (which really meant two hours with morning rush-hour traffic). The only way to avoid it was to be on the road by 5 a.m., so, each morning, with the threat of heinous traffic looming over me, I sprung out of my comfortable REM sleep when the alarm accosted me in the 4 o’clock hour, grabbed my gym stuff and some coffee, made the drive, worked out, and got ready at the gym. A couple weeks of that and it was as normal as brushing my teeth every night. To this day, I still get up early to go for a run before starting my day.

I don’t care if you think you’re “not a morning person.” It’s time to change your ways and set your alarm a couple hours earlier each morning. Get yourself outside for a run or to the gym for a sweat sesh before settling into your daily grind – I promise, you won’t regret it.


The benefits of exercising in the morning are worth the initial struggle. Besides the obvious “you have it out of the way early” thing, other perks include a curbed appetite, increased energy, and a little jumpstart for your brain and cardiovascular system – which is a great thing for those of us who wake up and head straight to a desk where we’ll be sitting for nine hours each day. Plus, you’re more likely to stick to a morning routine because there are less life distractions, like happy hours and dates and the like, happening at the crack of dawn than there are in the evening. In fact, make that no distractions.

Health and wellness aside, you’ll also get to see some pretty amazing sunrises, and walking into the office post-workout and energized while everyone else is desperately trying to caffeinate themselves is also pretty satisfying.


So how can we make getting up so early a little easier on ourselves? Getting to bed a little earlier at night is a start, but if you don’t have a greater force like bumper-to-bumper traffic motivating you, then try some of these techniques to get you out of bed and pounding pavement or pumping iron:

- Set your phone alarm to a jam that revs you up. It’s as easy as editing the regular alarm function that comes with your iPhone and picking a song instead of a sound.

- Place your phone or alarm in a part of your room or apartment that forces you to physically get out of bed to turn it off. I used to put mine by the coffee pot (which was set to brew, pre-alarm) so that the caffeine smell helped keep me out of bed once I arrived to shut off my wake-up call.

- Look at some “fitspiration,” whether it’s Instagram accounts or magazine images, to inspire you to take action while you’re trying to shake the sleepies.

- Make a bomb breakfast for yourself the night before – and only let yourself have it if you get up early and work out. My favorites are homemade juices or overnight oats.

Above all, remember that it takes time to get used to. Different research claims different amounts of time, but, generally, habit forming takes place in the two- to four-week range. Everyone is different though, and don’t beat yourself up if it feels impossible for a while. Just keep doing it because the more frequently you start your morning with a workout, the easier and more normal it will become. It’s simply getting into a new routine.


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  • Reply July 30, 2013

    J. Parker

    Early morning workouts have been key for me this summer while training to compete in my first ever triathlon! Luckily I’m a bit of a morning person but I do have a few tricks I use, like laying out my clothes and bag the night before and making my bed as soon as I wake up… It’s less tempting to crawl back into that way!


    J. Parker

  • Reply July 30, 2013

    Sam Emrich

    Love this article, Rene! I agree with J. Parker on laying the clothes out early – certainly helps. Other tips I use to get up early:

    1.) Promise myself a reward (coffee on the way to work or that cute top I’ve been eyeing) – but only if I wake up early every day that week!

    2.) Use a sleep app such as ‘Sleep Time’ – you give it a time range to wake up, it tracks your sleep behavior and wakes you during a ‘light sleep’ stage in your cycle. That way, you’re not awoken straight out of REM.

    Great tips here!

  • Reply July 30, 2013

    trang weaver

    this might sound gross (i don’t know why it would…) but i like to sleep in my workout clothes and pack my stuff the night before. i just roll out of bed, brush my teeth, and grab my bag. no time for the snooze button!