Thursday, March 3, 2011

Early Mornings, Exercise, and Play

For one month now, I've been participating in an exercise science study at Skidmore College.  Four mornings a week, through the next sixteen weeks, two groups of participants show up at the gym; the first group arrives at 6 a.m., the second at 7 a.m.  I'm in the 7 a.m. group since waking up to make it by then is early enough, and quite an accomplishment for a former night owl like me.  This new ritual has forced changes in my life.  No longer do I stay up through the 11 p.m. news and then another  hour and a half of late-night entertainment.  Nope, my routine has changed  completely.  Now I get up around 5:30 a.m. just to have a little time at home before I leave, and at the other end of the day I am yawning and ready for bed by 9:30 p.m.! 

Preparations for the following day are taken care of the night before.  In order to be ready to go, I pack my work clothes before I go to bed, so by morning all I have to do is throw on my exercise clothes and go out the door (I'm not a morning person yet.  I've been known to show up with my shirt inside out and backwards!).  Usually, getting out the door is a pretty simple thing, but this winter has been exceptionally unfriendly, and many mornings I've had to battle the elements to arrive at the gym on time.  On cold, dark winter mornings, I find it really hard to get out of bed, and I've resorted to placing my alarm phone (cell phone alarm) across the room.  As much as my circadian rhythms are protesting, I am never so grateful for morning exercise as the moment it is over, having accomplished an hour of heart-pumping activity.  After that, the day starts with most anxious energy abated, and whatever challenges waiting on my desk suddenly seem less daunting.  I don't have to think about exercising, or that I should be exercising, for the rest of the day, because it is over and done with.  Our work-out schedule is a mix of various aerobic and weight-resistance exercises, all sessions one hour, as follows:

Mondays:  sprints (I use the stationary bike)
Tuesdays:  Yoga (yet to find the peace, though noticing slight increased flexibility)
Wednesdays:  off - sleep until 7 a.m. - yea!
Thursdays:  fundamental training (circuits)
Fridays:  endurance (tomorrow we're snow-shoeing at 7 a.m.!)

I've lost weight before dieting, and I've lost weight before exercising, but combining these efforts is a one-two punch that accelerates results and leaves me feeling like I'm doing pretty much everything I can to improve my health and to provide me with the ability to get on the floor and play with my grandchildren until I am old(er) and gray(er).  The more time I spend in the gym with my morning buddies, the more it seems like play and less like work.  Jump-roping this morning was not the torturous experience it was four weeks ago.  It was more like those mornings at recess at St. Clement's School, when we got in lines, waiting for our chance to jump rope for fun, knowing it was nothing more than play. 

I have hated organized exercise, but I love to play.  Soon, it will seem more like play.  I'm looking forward to playing with my grandchildren.  We're going to have so much fun! 

Photo image:


  1. WHAT A FABULOUS POST!!!!!!!!! WHAT AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO ALL OF US!!! ESPECIALLY AS one of us has yet another birthday...OH MY!!!! Thank you so much for this encouragement!!! If my grandaughter can ever get back here from Italy....I'm on the floor with her or I'm dancing with her to Paul McDonald from Idol!!!! She will LOVE it!!! I love this post!! thank you!!!!

  2. This is a very inspirational post. I wish I had the will and determination to get up early morning and work out before starting the rest of my day. I have heard it is very healthy and improves one's mood greatly.