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  • Writer's pictureHang Zhao

5:30am at Hayes Park

Updated: Dec 25, 2018

530 am at hayes park, health and fitness, well-being, workout, exercise daily, commitment, accountability structure

4:50am: my alarm goes off, I hit snooze. Do I go? Am I ready? What do I need? I ask myself.

5am: the alarm goes off again, I get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, put on my layers, and drive to Hayes park.

5:30am: I start my one hour bootcamp class outside with a group of amazing women.

This is my Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning–every single week, rain or shine, wind or snow.

It is not easy and it has not always been this way.

People who know me know how much I hate winter: its darkness, its wind and cold. Most winters I become an indoor-person and don’t engage in any physical activity, but this year I challenged myself to take on something outside my comfort zone in service of my health and fitness. I joined Body by Ginny last October, after I finished my half marathon. I’d been so fixated on running when training for the race, that I wanted to do something fun (in addition to running) afterwards. An outdoor fitness group seemed a great option; however, the change didn’t come as easy or natural despite my running long distance for a while.

The first couple of weeks were rough: I literally needed to drag myself out of bed at 5am, grumpy; pushed through the workout; felt better initially but completely drained by the afternoon. Instead of improving my productivity during the day, the exercise sent me to a downward spiral of exhaustion. I pushed through it because that is what I do. However, I eventually realized that willpower does not provide an unlimited source of power and can only get me this far. The more I pushed, the more tired I became, the less I felt motivated, the less I loved going.

What brought me back to exercise is actually my fundamental commitment: I love my body and I am willing to work for it so it is healthy, fit and beautiful. I know what exercise brings to my body and my soul, and how it can nourish me and source me physically and mentally. With that deep knowing, I am constantly enrolling myself in an early bedtime so I can have the sleep I need to get up at 5am–even when it is 20 degrees and dark, and windy, and rainy, or snowy.

Also what I learned through the process is to be firm and flexible. My underlying commitment is resolute, while my day-to-day circumstance is different. I check in with myself every morning to see what I need: the extra couple of hours of sleep or exercise. Some days I chose to exercise but ended up feeling sleepy the entire day while some days I decided to sleep in while realizing that I needed the workout afterwards. However by giving myself a chance to check in, I empowered my inner knowing and trust whatever decision I made is actually what I need. Even when the day doesn’t go as planned, it is completely okay as I can adjust and choose again.

Last but not least I created a structure that works for me. Running and bootcamp combination fulfills my need for cardio and strength training, and for both alone and social time. I love people, community, and nature. The amount of inspiration and gratitude I received by working out with a group of amazing women committed to their wellbeing as much as I do is irreplaceable.

With the deep commitment, great attitude and supportive structure you can absolutely create your 5:30am Hayes park! Are you ready?

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