I’m never more ambitious than I am the night before I plan to work out. I dust off my sneakers; Google “how to put a sports bra on”; set my alarm for 6am, and fall asleep to visions of myself doing deadlifts, joyfully running outside and casually popping into a CrossFit box to teach a class. NBD.
But I’m never less ambitious than when my alarm goes off the next morning. I go from thinking, “If I wake up every day at 4 a.m. and train really hard, I could totally pull off a triathlon” to “Has it always been this hard to lean down and put socks on my feet?”
And suddenly all my bold plans go out the window, and I instead lie in bed convincing myself that tomorrow’s actually a much better day to workout. Yes, tomorrow. Because it’ll be one degree cooler, or Mercury won’t be in retrograde, or that it’s much better for my aura to lie still for an hour and scroll through my frenemies’ Insta-stories because I’ve had a long week.
“If only I could exercise in bed,” I’d frequently say to my ceiling fan, “I’d be the fittest person in the world.”
Well, a few weeks ago, “if only…” turned into a reality when I learned about Wakeout – an app that felt like it was designed just for me. (Yet, according to its website, that is not the case.) Each day, it runs you through a short series of three easy exercises that you can do from your bed and in your pyjamas. And by short, I mean you perform each move (AMRAP or as many reps as possible) for less than a minute.
I downloaded it right away and committed to doing it for at least 10 days to see what would happen. I’m no mathematician, but I assumed that 10 days multiplied by three-minute workouts would give me the kind of bod that makes people say, “There’s a person who didn’t spend her summer weekends binge-watching a show she’s already seen before.”
The night before the first day, I set the in-app alarm to go off at 6:57am on weekdays – giving me exactly enough time to fit in this new routine and still get to work on time. Then I prepared myself emotionally for my She’s All That transformation.
The following morning, I was jerked awake by blaring music coming out of my phone. I’m talking a poppy, video-game-esque soundtrack that made me feel like I was about to start a race on my N64 circa 1998. I felt both excited and intimidated, and also instantly awake.
Would I be able to keep up with the moves to match these tunes? Would I have to buckle my seat belt?
Both answers quickly became clear as the workout quashed my fears. Yes, I would be able to keep up (and no, seat belts weren’t required). The moves were simple – think: basic bodyweight squats, chest presses using your pillow or arm circles – all with clever names like “Mom I Can’t Sleep” and “Rise and Shine.” I then realised these exercises weren’t meant to get you in shape, but rather, they were literally meant to get you moving.
This isn’t working, I thought as I followed along with the man in the app in my pyjamas, my head still on my pillow. I’m not even close to a one-pack, let alone a six-pack. And before I could feel the burn, a burn, really any burn at all, the routine was over in less than three minutes.
But then, mere seconds later, I started to feel something else. And not the usual “Are my organs giving out?” feeling I typically get when I do anything physical for more than a few minutes. But rather, I actually felt motivated.
I’d gone from being half-asleep to being wide awake, and I suddenly felt compelled to do more. Never in the history of my body has that ever happened. Usually, I force myself to work out for 30 minutes every Wednesday, and the second that stopwatch hits 30:00, I stop whatever I’m doing and promise my body I won’t put it through that torture again until the following week.
However, after this three-minute session, I got out of bed and planked in my living room. Just for one minute, mind you. But still, I did it because I wanted to.
I felt so excited by the sheer fact that I was motivated to do more that I started doing push-ups. I’m sorry, that’s a lie – I did one push-up, singular. Then I stopped. One plank and one push-up felt like more than enough optional activity for one day.
But I continued to use the app for 10 days. Each morning, I jolted up to the blaring music (it started to become kind of exciting), did three easy exercises in less than three minutes, and was rewarded with a motivational quote – all of which pushed me to do a little more. I found that I’d finally broken my “excuse curse.” I couldn’t say no to three morning exercises since I literally could stay in bed and do them. And then I couldn’t say no to working out more because I was already in exercise mode.
Now, mind you, I did not go from bed-ercises to my CrossFit-guest-trainer fantasy. But I did go from bed-ercises to planks (and maybe a few jumping jacks or burpees).
If you’re someone who enjoys moving your body enough that you go to a gym several times a week, this probably feels wildly insignificant. However, for someone like me – someone who just started working out last year for the first time ever – wanting to do more than the original routine I agreed to do is a huge deal. Huge.
Who knows what’s next? Maybe two push-ups! Maybe being brave enough to make eye contact with myself in the mirror while I’m doing my bed routine. Maybe signing up for a morning exercise class! (Ha, OK, probably not that.)
Or maybe – and hopefully – a continued desire to actually work out for longer than a few minutes every day. Since starting to exercise last year, I’ve made baby steps in the right direction, and this feels like one more that’s pushing me toward a routine I might actually not hate.
And for someone who was told at the age of 29 that she had the core strength of a baby, that’s kinda a big deal.