Between classes, studying and work, it can be difficult to make time for working out. I’ve realized time management is a skill that is necessary to survive college.

Working out and staying fit is important. So I thought long and hard, trying to figure out how to work out every day of the week. Being that the life of a college student is lived on a schedule, it can be difficult to find a consistent spot for free time. The time that I managed to find is in the early morning before my 8 a.m. classes. Yikes.

Last week, I hit the gym at 6 a.m. with a friend, and it felt impossible to wake up in time to meet him at the Rec. We ran a mile for warm up (for the record, I do NOT run, and I do NOT consider a mile a “warm up”), then worked upper body—abs, back, arms. Three to four sets of roughly 10 repetitions of exercises, such as back hyperextensions (for abs and lower back), pullups (for arms and chest) and a few others. It really wasn’t too bad, and by the time we finished around seven, I felt pretty good about working out.

The plan this past week was to get up early every morning to work out, so I set my alarm the next day at 5:45 a.m. for another 6 a.m. workout. I think I hit snooze about four times. With that said, I would definitely recommend setting down whatever alarm you have on the other side of the room to force yourself to get up, or get an alarm that doesn’t have a snooze option at all. The day after that, I hit snooze after a night of late studying and finishing up a few assignments. I knew waking up early was going to be a struggle.

If you’re someone who is new to working out and trying to get a routine down, my best advice is not to jump into early morning workouts—ease yourself into it. Figuring out a routine that works is hard enough. Pushing yourself when you’re not quite used to it makes it 10 times harder and could be discouraging—that’s what we’re trying to avoid.

The following week, I set my alarm so that I could get to the Rec at 6:30 a.m. instead. I jogged from the dorms to the Rec, ran a couple laps, then did some mild ab and upper body exercises without weights to ease into a routine. To finish up, I jogged back at 7 a.m. to shower and get ready for the rest of my day. I felt great throughout the day with a feeling of accomplishment and energy flowing. When you work out to start off your day, you’ll feel substantially better compared to just rolling out of bed 10 minutes before class and feeling lazy.

At this point, I plan to do these shorter workouts for a week or so to get the hang of it, then increase slowly so that my routine becomes steady. Find a consistent time when you know you can fit in at least half an hour of any type of workout. Whether it be the 20-minute core class at the Rec, running a mile or doing a sequence of lunges, crunches, pushups and a couple of sprints—stick to it for a week. This can be a process, but it’s worth it once you get it down.

Depending on your own fitness goals, classes are a good starting point if you’re new to working out. You could swim laps if you want a full body workout, or you could do specific weight training sequences that you can find online if you want to gain some muscle. As for motivation to restrain yourself from hitting snooze, I remind myself of my personal fitness goals and all of the junk food I’ve eaten since my last work out.

Ultimately, getting the hang of a consistent workout routine is difficult. Time management plays a huge role, but it’s doable. If you don’t push yourself too hard, you’re less likely to give up and more likely to feel good about working out and sticking with it.

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