Early Morning Exercise Tips from Portland Fitness Pros

Local trainers reveal their secrets for making good on your a.m. sweat commitments.

By Allison Jones April 3, 2015

Besides the obvious benefits of getting your sweat session out of the way in the morning—you don't need to shower (or stay stinky) mid-day, your evenings are free, and the mood boost from endorphins powers you up better than a triple-shot latte—groundbreaking research suggests that working out on an empty stomach (ie before breakfast) may lead to more weight loss. Sounds great, right? The only downside...actually getting out of bed early enough to work out. Convinced that dawn is the best time to get pumped, we polled Portland's fitness pros for some helpful tips on rising and shining:


"When my alarm goes off, I ask myself three things: 'What am I excited about today? What am I grateful for? What am I committed to making happen today?'" shares Stephanie Richen, owner of Pure Barre Portland. "I have these questions attached to a great motivational board of things that inspire and motivate me everyday. This has been proof for me to get out of bed and get the day going and stay motivated. Great things happen to those that get up and conquer the world early!"

Go to Bed, already!

According to BurnCycle wellness director and spin instructor Stephanie Worth, a regular sleep routine is vital. "Avoid sabotaging your good workout habits with fatigue from lack of a good night's rest, and try to keep the amount of sleep the same. For example, if you are used to getting seven hours of sleep a night, go to bed an hour earlier to account for waking up an hour earlier to work out." And don't forget the water before you turn in: "After a full night's sleep, we are already at a slight hydration deficit. Drink a full bottle of water the night before you workout, and a small glass of water when you wake up. You'll perform better and feel more alert."

Get Ready the Night Before

Local pro trainer Kisar Dhillon—who gets sweaty one-on-one with some of Portland's top chefs, smoothie emperors, entrepreneurs, and tech stars at Southeast Portland's the Art of Personal Training—weighs in. With some preparation and planning, you can make getting up in the morning easier be getting ready the night before: "Lay out all of your workout out clothes and have water bottle already filled in your gym bag. Also gather any toiletries and work clothes the night before so you can shower and get ready at your gym or work, if necessary. Don’t forget the towel! Need breakfast after your workout? Make your post-workout snack or shake the night before so you can have it on your way to work. Invest in a small cooler to keep it cool in your car or backpack. And go to bed early! Do not set yourself up for failure by going to bed at midnight when you have a 6 am run with your friend."

Find Friends (and make friends with coffee)

According to Portland trainer Paisley Meekin of Northeast Fremont's Honest Personal Training, it's important to "find people to meet up with—and don't let them down! Create accountability for yourself. I call it creating multiple layers of accountability... people, money, and incentives for you." Dionne Del Carlo of Lak Oswego spin studio StarCycle agrees. "It helps to sign up for a class with a friend so you won't let each other down—and maybe set your coffee maker the night before so the aroma of freshly brewed coffee helps you take that first critical step out of bed!"

Put your intentions (and Rewards) on Paper

Kimi Marin, yoga teacher and studio manager of Yoga Bhoga in Southeast Portland, pencils in her motivation along with the time and place of her workout. "Ask yourself, how do you feel on those days you get up and run, cycle, go to the gym, etc? How do you feel when you don't? Schedule in your planner that you will get up at a given time in order to be a happier (calmer, more patient, etc) person." It helps to see it in writing! "Remember to reward yourself. But here is the catch—give a trusted friend your reward to hold for you until you meet an established (realistic) goal."

What are your tips for being a healthy early riser? Do you prefer to work out at night? Share your tips and reactions in the comments!

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