Start Your Day Like a Pro: How 8 Philly Fitness Pros Wake Up

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If the first thing you do after opening your eyes in the morning is check your email, Instagram and Facebook, then your mornings could probably use a change of pace. I mean, I don’t know about you, but responding to an urgent email, seeing a photo of my friend’s amazing (and totally envy-inducing) Caribbean vacation, and reading a status about how miserably cold it is outside, all before I’ve even had a chance to yawn, seriously stresses me out. Yet, this is what I do. Every. Single. Morning.

So, after years of practicing a totally anxiety-inducing morning routine, I went to the folks who are healthy and fit for a living to get some pointers on how de-stress my wake-up routine.




I asked eight of Philly's favorite fitness instructors how they start their mornings, and what I learned is this: There's no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to starting your day on a healthy note. In fact, the most common thread of advice throughout the responses wasn't to start the day with a yoga sequence or to chug a green smoothie; it was to do something that fills you with happiness and gratitude. And hey, if that means Instagraming a photo of your adorable, still-snoozing, snoring pup, so be it.

Here's what the pros had to say:

Juliet Sabella, Owner of The Wall Cycling Studio

"I make sure to have at least some form of workout, where it's my time: My day starts off stress-free when I do something for myself in the morning. My favorite time to workout is 5 or 6 a.m. You most likely don't have any other obligations at that time, so it's the perfect opportunity to get a workout in. Try it and I guarantee the day will be set up for positive energy and positive choices. Plus, you will sleep so well at night."

"I also do something that makes me happy, and that's paying a ridiculous amount of attention to my dog. She is so happy when she wakes up and it's hard to start your day on a wrong foot when you have a loving little puppy looking up at you."

Marshall Roy, Owner of RISE Gym

"I'm pretty fanatical about drinking one or two BIG glasses of water first thing after getting up. Sometimes, if you get right up and brush your teeth, you lose the feeling of thirst, and forget to drink. Then you get busy at work, have a cup of coffee, and lunchtime rolls around and you feel like garbage and don't know why."

Paige Champan, Owner of Mama's Wellness Joint

"I really wish I could say that I hop out of bed and hit the meditation cushion, but it just isn't so. Since my fiancé is living outside of Philly right now, one of the first things I usually do while I'm still in bed is Skype with him. When you first wake up, I think it's important that you do something for yourself rather than check your work email, if you can help it."

Ewa Zeljazkow, Instructor at Philly Power Yoga

"I jumpstart my day with a few simple rituals for self-improvement and discipline: I read a positive and inspiring quote or chapter in a book to get the day started on a good note; I remind myself to enjoy the simple things in life, like being grateful that I woke up and got out of bed this morning; then I practice oil pulling, drink a cup of warm water with lemon and do a few Down Dogs to wake up my body."

Mariel Freeman, Owner of DIG YOGA

"When I first wake up I usually spend at least 10 to 15 minutes spooning my still sleeping husband, feeling the baby boy that seems to do somersaults inside me first thing in the mornings, and considering my intentions and goals for the day. This quiet time, alone with the most precious loves of my life, makes me feel so much gratitude when I start the day, which I think is so important."

Shoshana Katz, General Manager at Body Cycle Studio

"I tend to set my alarm 15 minutes before I really need to be up: I like to be able to hit snooze exactly two times. When I get up, I put my feet right into my Ugg slippers and wiggle my toes around in all of their glory. I go over my day in my head as I get dressed, deciding how many changes of clothes I need or if I need to pack some food with me now or if I have time to stop home to grab food."

"Before I leave, I take a moment to look outside. Not just to check the weather, but to take it all in for a minute and do some people watching outside. That's when I decide what kind of day it is going to be."

Malik Wilson, Instructor at Dhyana Yoga

"I am optimistically curious each waking day. I grab a book, normally something inspirational, or my journal, and my phone. Then I head to the kitchen and make a strong cup of coffee. While I wait for my coffee to brew, I do some gentle forward folds with a deep bend in the knees and my lower belly resting on my thighs to decompress my spine."

"If there is one goal for each day it is not to be so attached to outcomes: Practice, show up and do your best to remain undisturbed whether sailing smooth waters or rough seas."

Juliet Burgh, Coach/Nutrition Director at Unite Fitness

"One of the things I do when I first wake up is listen to an inspirational podcast while I'm getting ready. Anything from Hay House radio I love! Listening to people like Dwayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra reminds me to practice gratitude during day."

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  • Emily Leaman

    Love this so much! Thanks for all the inspiration. Time to rethink my mornings :)