How I Learned to Love Morning Workouts

POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone
POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone

As a 20-something living in a big city, squeezing in a workout is tough. Some days it feels like I have to choose between hitting the gym or heading to happy hour — but I want both! So, though I'm definitely not a morning person, I embarked on a mission to master the morning workout. But there was just one little issue . . .

To me, waking up earlier than needed is like a unique form of torture. It's like there is an epic battle between my motivated self and my lazy self — a sort of tug-of-war between the comfort of my large, plush bed and the energizing hum of the gym. And though I've felt like I'm getting into the swing of things, I sometimes lose momentum and struggle all over again. Still, I feel like I've come closer to conquering this all-consuming battle, and the more I work at it, the more I notice certain tips and tricks that make it much easier to successfully get my butt out the door. Armed with this arsenal of ideas, the morning is yours!

1. Set multiple alarms

When I say I set multiple alarms, I don't mean two — I mean five or six, starting half an hour before I want to get up. If I'm not in the habit of getting up early to hit the gym, my body is not ready for the rude awakening, and I find myself hitting snooze and missing my workout. When you're just getting into the habit, bombard yourself with obnoxious alarms and know that while you're totally miserable in the moment, you'll thank yourself later.

2. Lay out everything the night before

Shorts, check. Sports bra, check. Water bottle, keys . . . check, check. Scrambling around half delirious in the morning is not the most effective way to start the day. I've found that when I can plan ahead and have everything ready at arm's reach, it's much more likely I'll make it out the door and to my 7 a.m. Spin class on time.

3. Make it a date

Some days it can be so difficult to get out of bed, especially when I know that there is nothing stopping me from staying snuggled under the covers. But when I know that someone is depending on me to show up, it's much easier to get out of bed and get my act together. Convince a friend to meet you for a morning run and you won't be able to skip out.

4. Cut travel time

My gym is a 10-minute walk from home (or five-minute jog, if I'm feeling ambitious . . . ), and the quick commute means that I can sneak in every extra minute of sleep possible. Since a longer commute would mean getting up even earlier, finding a gym that was literally around the corner meant that making an excuse about travel time was no longer an option. Even if a nearby gym isn't an option, running outside or doing a video in your living room can help you sneak in a workout, no matter how short on time you feel.

5. Leave no escape

At my gym, signing up for a class and then not showing up is a major no-no that can lead to a ding on your account. So to get myself out of bed and into the gym, I've started signing up for morning classes the night before. If I know there are consequences for not showing up, it's more likely that I'll get up and get my act together. If your gym is more forgiving, make your own ultimatums. Live with a roommate or a significant other? Pay them $5 if you sleep in — when your money is on the table, getting to the gym will seem easy.

6. Don't sweat a slip-up

Some days I miss the mark and end up skipping my workout, especially after indulging a little too much the night before. It's important to accept that I'm not going to make my goal every time. If you miss a workout, don't beat yourself up; just pay attention to what went wrong — were you up too late the night before? Did you just turn off your alarm instead of getting up? Listen to your body and learn from what didn't work instead of getting upset.

7. Plan a reward

Call me crazy, but one of my favorite treats is a refreshing, rich iced latte. Since they can be pretty pricey, I try to keep this delicious treat to something I enjoy on the weekend only. But I've found that if I promise myself a slightly sweet, strong, and milky cup of deliciousness on the way to work if I hit the gym first, it's easier for me to face the day knowing that a treat is coming my way.

8. Crash early

OK, I admit it — this is the puzzle piece I consider my weakness. I'm a night owl, and as hard as I try to hit the hay at 9 p.m., I'll just toss and turn until my body decides it's ready for sleep, usually around 1:30 a.m. I've found the longer I work at adjusting my schedule, the easier it becomes, but there are still days I wish that I was able to magically pass out. I've learned that turning off the TV and closing my laptop an hour before hopping into bed does seem to help, so be sure to shut off the screens when you're trying to go to bed earlier than normal.

9. Remember the results

I never expected that switching my workout routine from after work to before it would affect my mood throughout the day, but I swear it has. Though I may feel sluggish getting out the door, once I've sweated out my morning weariness, I leave the gym feeling seriously refreshed and invigorated. Maybe it's the endorphins, or maybe it's the fact that the day is now full of possibilities — but I am ready to hit the ground running. If you're struggling to find the motivation, just remember the energy you will feel pulsing through your body as soon as you step out the doors and start the rest of your day.