‘I read in the paper this morning that 7 out of 10 Canberrans do some kind of formal exercise weekly.’ My mate said as he refilled my wine glass. ‘I just don’t think that’s true! I mean, none of us do!’
All my friends nodded in agreement and a few even scoffed at the thought of going to a gym. This was when we were in our late teens and early 20s. Most of us were at uni studying full time, working part-time and spent our evenings rehearsing or performing in theatre shows. Incidental exercise kept most of them in the healthy weight range (lucky bastards) so the thought of ‘formal’ exercise was a rather foreign concept to them.
‘Um…’ I piped up. ‘I do!’
‘Well yeah, I mean we all exercise but this is talking about going to a gym or doing classes, that kind of thing. Not just going for a run every now and then.’
I confirmed that indeed I attended regular classes at my gym and was currently in my fourth week of an eight-week boot camp I was attending three mornings a week. My friends were fascinated. Not only did I pay for a weekly gym membership, but I actually used it. It was like a buying a kilo of spinach at the beginning of the week and eating the lot instead of forgetting all about it and throwing out a bag of liquid spinach a week later.
To a lot of people, going to the gym or doing organised exercise like team sports or boot camps is highly unusual behaviour. Most people hate going to the gym, doing boot camps or participating in organised team sports. Take Mr Smaggle for instance. He hates gyms and exercise classes to the point where I’ve been trying to get him to come to F45 with me for two years and it’s a consistent and blanket no. He likes to run and he likes to do it alone. Totally cool. Each to their own. I don’t know of too many people who have held and used a regular gym membership the way I have for the past 15 years. I’m the weirdo here.
I do have a confession to make. I also used to hate gyms and boot camps. I’d sign up for fitness packages and then quit them while I could still get a refund. After years of trying everything, I finally came up with a formula that has kept me exercising 4 to 6 times per week, usually in a gym, for the last decade.
1. Exercise has to happen in the morning or it doesn’t happen at all
2. There needs to be a significant financial consequence if I don’t go
Regular gym memberships don’t work for me. If I can go any time I like, I won’t go at all, which is why I like classes I have to book in for. I like walking but I’ve lived most of my life in cold, rainy cities so it’s easy to use that as an excuse. Once I figured out that I’m an early morning tight-ass exerciser, everything changed.
Reasons why morning exercise is the boss…
1. I’ve forgotten I’ve even done it by the end of the day. I exercise most days and I have zero recollection of most of my workouts.
2. It gives me awesome energy for the day. Days when I don’t exercise, are painful and I’m just grumpier when I miss my morning workout.
3. I hate exercising in the afternoon because I’m tired and I’ve finished work and I just want to lie on the couch and watch Forensic Files okay?
4. I don’t have time to talk myself out of doing it in the morning. I just get up and do it and it’s over before I’ve even thought about it.
If you struggle to exercise in the morning, here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Be prepared
You need to have everything in a little pile all ready for when you wake up. I’m talking socks, shoes, keys, towel, water bottle – everything. Don’t let a lost sock or not being able to find your bra ruin your morning exercise plans. My work desk is covered in my gym gear every night before I go to bed. That way when I wake up, I just get dressed, grab my bag and I’m good to go. I also make sure I charge my phone and headphones every night so they’re all good to go in the morning. Not having a podcast to listen to on my drive to the gym irritates me immensely. If you’re worried about forgetting something, keep a checklist on your phone.
2. Don’t do it every day
There’s no rule saying you can’t exercise a few mornings a week and then exercise a few afternoons. I mostly exercise in the morning but if something comes up, I’ll just switch to lunch time. Easy. Aim for two to three-morning sessions per week that way if you flake in the afternoon, you’re still sorted.
3. Poor sleep isn’t an excuse
Sorry, but it’s just not. Exercise is one of the greatest things you can do when you haven’t slept well. It will make what could have been an awful day into an amazing one. If I’ve tossed and turned all night and make the decision to not go to the gym, it’s a very bad life choice. If I drag my sleepy butt out of bed and get to the gym the sweat and endorphins kick in and it changes the whole course of my day. Try it – be tough on yourself when you’ve not had a lot of sleep. I don’t recommend this as an ongoing tactic but for every now and then, just be a grown up and get on with it.
4. Pay for non-refundable classes
There’s nothing like money as a motivator. If you pre-pay for a specialty class or a boot camp there’s far more incentive to get out of bed, particularly if it’s a bit on the expensive side. If I book into an F45 class and I skip it at the last minute they charge me a $20 fee. That’s on top of what I paid for the class. Not happening my friend, I’m far too much of a tight ass for that. I’d have to be on death’s door before I skipped a class and got charged for it.
5. Get good sleep
Count backwards from when you need to get up and go to bed 8 hours before that time. I have to get up at 7.30 to make my 8am gym class so I’m in bed by 11.30pm every night. I may not necessarily be asleep but I’m in bed. I know I said bad sleep isn’t an excuse (it’s not!) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get good sleep.