Meet these morning unicorns, and try their #UpNOut secrets.
Egill Bjarki, Getty Images
Trainers are a rare breed of morning unicorns. What they can accomplish before 8 A.M. is pure magic—from training clients to teaching classes bright and early, many start their days before the sun rises and are out the door while the rest of us are still blissfully enjoying some shut-eye. But an early start to their workday doesn’t mean they don’t take time for themselves in the morning–actually, it’s a priority.
As fitness pros, they make sure they’re caring for themselves first, even when they’re insanely busy. And even though they don’t always squeeze their own workouts in that early (they are a little busy helping the rest of us do that), their mornings feel balanced, refreshing, and productive.
Below are five set-yourself-up-for-success habits that top trainers swear by. They may just inspire you to set your alarm 20 minutes earlier (ugh).
1. Hydrate (with water)—immediately.
Whether they go for a citrus-spiked sip or the regular stuff, drinking water is the first thing on many trainers’ healthy morning routines. “I usually drink two tall glasses of water to rehydrate me and get my metabolism going,” says Kelvin Gary, C.P.T., owner of NYC’s Body Space Fitness. (Staying hydrated is important for helping to keep your metabolism in tip-top shape, no matter how you drink it.) Plus, if you’re trying to get #UpNOut and to a workout, staying hydrated will help you power through your SoulCycle class. “Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue,” says Gary.
“I drink a liter of warm lemon water every morning before I eat or drink anything else,” adds Nerijus Bagdonas, a trainer at YG Studios. And while warm lemon water isn’t any more hydrating than regular water, if it’ll inspire you to sip on the H20, by all means, have at it.
2. Foam roll and stretch it out.
When your mind is awake but your muscles feel one step behind, there are ways to break your body out of that cooped-up, sleepy funk. “I foam roll first thing out of bed,” says Gary. “I’ve found this to be the best way to loosen up all the tightness from a night of sleep.” If you don’t have a foam roller, you can give your body a wake-up call with some stretching, too. “Stretching my back and breathing in child’s pose is helpful to release any tension formed from my sleeping position,” says Amelia DiDomenico, C.P.T., master trainer at Crunch Gyms.
3. Enjoy a cup of coffee.
Even unicorn morning people, like trainers, need a little jolt of java to kick off their day. “I drink coffee—it’s a habit at this point, and I love it,” says Rachel Robinson, a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp Miami Beach. “I only use whole organic milk in my coffee and don’t use any sugar or creamers with high sugar.” Adds Gary, “I can’t go on without my French press coffee.” Know that feel—and here’s hoping YOUR morning java will also be serving up a dose of fitspiration soon.
4. Fuel up for the day with a healthy breakfast.
There’s no need to force yourself to eat if you’re not a breakfast person, but many trainers consider a healthy breakfast an essential part of their morning. “Eating a well-balanced breakfast is so important to me,” says Jackie Dragone, director of barre at FLEX studios. “My breakfasts contain protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat—this combo ensures that I have the energy I need to start the day.” A typical morning meal for Dragone is plain two-percent Greek yogurt with low-sugar granola and fruit, or two hard-boiled eggs with a slice of Ezekiel bread and some avocado slices.
Some trainers start their day with a small snack and eat a bigger breakfast later on. “Fresh fruit in the morning gives me enough energy and mental clarity to focus on my clients…it’s filled with healthy vitamins,” says DiDomenico. “I eat a larger, more substantial breakfast around 10 or 11 A.M.” Second breakfast = life.
5. Make time for reflection.
“I do my Headspace, a meditation app, to make sure my mind is clear and that I’m focused,” says Gary. “As a trainer, my job is very much tied to energy. I need to bring as much energy to every class that I teach and every client session. Energy, either good or bad, is contagious, so I need to make sure my mind is right. Plus, being an owner of a gym and having a team of trainers means that I have a lot of responsibilities that I need to be mentally sharp for.”
Even if you don’t start a regular meditation practice, taking just a minute to breathe in the morning can help center you for the day ahead. “I try to take at least five minutes, usually with my coffee, to just sit and focus on the day ahead and what I want to accomplish. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed by my schedule,” says Jenn Seracuse, director of Pilates at FLEX studios.
These morning #goals may feel overwhelming to try all at once, so start with one healthy morning habit and see if it fits into your routine. Build from there—and incorporate your own personalized healthy habits—and before you know it, you’ll be livin’ life like a bona fide morning person.