For a long stretch of time the closest I could ever get to a gym in the early hours of the morning was if I happened to have a dream about one.
I worked out exclusively in the PM, but was also somewhat aware of the potential benefits that awaited on the other side of the fence in the morning hours.
I searched for a number of years to find a way to make that jump to the AM, but each time I wound up exactly where I started, in the gym after dark.
There’s just something about the idea of working out before the workday begins that appeals to people. It signals a solid work ethic, a good attitude and a desire to get more out of life. So, this year, I finally dedicated myself to making that dream into a reality and in the process I found a great way to break the cycle.
Nowadays, every morning throughout the working week I roll out of bed just before the sun, wrestle my way into my hoodie and make my way out to the gym near my office.
But before I get into the gym, I do something that completely changes my mindset, it lifts me out of my semi-comatose state and gets me in the right frame of mind for the workout ahead.
First, I meet up with two close workmates (who are also my training buddies) right outside the front door of the gym, and then, we all walk to the café next door and buy each other a coffee. We all sit down, we talk, and we laugh for about ten minutes or so. We enjoy the moment, and then we all go into the gym to begin the workout.
It’s as simple as that.
This ritual of getting to the gym a little earlier to sit down for a coffee has now become just as important to me as the actual gym workout. It’s a moment for me to stop and to be present, and it’s a moment to connect and share an experience with people who I enjoy spending time with. It's crazy how that whole experience then filters through into the work day.
But it isn’t just the workday that improves.
After maintaining this ritual for a number of months now, one of my work mates has quit smoking — a habit he has been trying to kick for years — while my other friend is now in the best shape of his life as he prepares to start a family with his wife.
The steps were small at first but the momentum of this morning routine has now created lasting, positive results.
The great thing is we are all there to support each other through these moments every day, which is an incredibly important thing — particularly for men — to do.
And while it may sound like a simple, arbitrary event to sit down, have a coffee and share a moment with friends before a gym workout, the act has changed the way I think about mornings.
I now look forward to getting up and getting to the gym, there is a sense of enjoyment about the whole experience that wasn’t there before. I now feel ready to get out and 'get after it' in the AM.
What I think I was missing until now was being able to share the experience consistently with good people, to have a moment to pause, and to reward myself before doing something physically beneficial to my health.
It’s a simple ritual, but one that has helped create many positive habits.
A good coffee and good people. Simple.