Entrepreneur & Fitness Personality Michael Chernow Shares His Intense 90-Minute Morning Routine
Kristine Thomason is the health and fitness director at mindbodygreen.
Have you ever walked away from a conversation with someone, feeling completely inspired to overhaul your life? Well, that's exactly what happened after I chatted with entrepreneur and fitness personality Michael Chernow—and I have no doubt he has a similar impact on anyone in his orbit.
During our virtual meeting, we discussed some of his favorite ways to be healthy while traveling, and I related to all of them (walk everywhere you can, BYO healthy breakfast, stay hydrated, journal daily, and enjoy yourself). But what really turned my world upside down was hearing about his meticulous morning routine. I'm not exaggerating, his 90-minute a.m. kickoff is perhaps the most intense wellness regimen I've ever heard.
Chernow fully believes in the power of habit (look no further than his brand Kreatures of Habit for proof). And while I didn't leave our convo ready to replicate his ritual, I was thoroughly inspired by the method of his morning: "Spending that first part of the day focusing on insanely selfish things ultimately converts into selfless things," he shared. "I believe you are a far better human being to the people around you. So I don't look at those things as chores. I see them as critical to success in life."
Now, without further ado, here's a breakdown of his nonnegotiable well-being habits:
Michael Chernow's morning routine.
Step 1: Smiles & gratitude.
"I wake up at 4:45 every single day—I don't have an alarm, kind of just open my eyes at that time. And then I smile from ear to ear. That's the first thing I do every single morning. I smile a really big grin and I hold it. Even if I'm tired and grumpy, I force it, and I hold it for 15 seconds. During that time, I run through a little gratitude list in my head. And by the time I'm done with that, I'm feeling happy, and I get out of bed with intention."
Step 2: Skin care.
"Then I go right into my skin care practice, which I love. It involves washing my face with face wash, then I put on a serum, then moisturizer, and then SPF. I do all of that and even though I know I'm going into the sauna later, because it's something that makes me feel good to do for myself, like I'm taking the initiative. Next, I brush my teeth and I floss. And then I pray every morning—I have a prayer practice that I do that. I've been doing for many years."
Step 3: Quick exercise & nourish.
"Next, I do 50 pushups. Then I tiptoe past my wife who's still in bed, I walk downstairs, and I sip on my greens powder drink and a 20-ounce jar of water, lemon, and salt."
Step 4: Sauna, meditation & stretching.
"After that, I preheat my infrared sauna to 180 degrees, because that's as high as it goes. While I sit in the sauna, the first thing I do is read for about 15 to 20 minutes, until it gets too sweaty. Then I put the book down and meditate for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how I feel.
"I've actually incorporated this really interesting stretching practice where I just hang over my legs for five minutes. (It took effort to work up to five minutes, I didn't do it right off the bat.) I really feel like it's helped my lower back, glutes, and hamstrings—plus my posture."
Step 5: Cold therapy.
"Right after the sauna, it's time for my cold plunge, which is set at 38 degrees. I open it up and I get right in—I don't like to ease myself in, I just get right in all the way up to my chin. I take 30 long, slow breaths, and that typically takes around four minutes.
"And when I step out of that thing, I am on absolute cloud nine—I can't even describe the feeling because it's unlike anything else. Then I walk over to the mirror in my gym, I look at myself and thank God for being alive another day, and I give myself a hug."
Step 6: Family time & journaling.
"At this point, it's about six o'clock in the morning. I put on my robe and I go into my house, and my kids are usually up at that point. Next, I take a quick hot shower because I am freezing. I'll usually try to do a little writing in my journal. Then I hang out with my kids before it's time to get them to school.
"I get to the office typically at 8:30. I used to go straight to the gym. But now I get to the office in the morning. And I work out at 11. And that's the whole routine."
So, if you're like me, your jaw is all the way to the floor at this point. I quite frankly told Chernow that was the most intense routine I'd ever heard in my life.
"I guess when I say it out loud, it does sound pretty intense," he thoughtfully replied. "But I just feel like, there's so much in my life that I cannot control—pretty much everything after six o'clock in the morning. Between six o'clock in the morning and nine o'clock at night I've just got to roll with the punches. And so when I have the ability to control the first hour of my day, it puts me in a far better position to manage anything that gets thrown at me."
By focusing on himself first, Chernow believes he's better able to be there for others in his life—whether that's his family, friends, or employees of his many businesses.
And while taking a full hour and a half in the morning might seem daunting (if not physically impossible), he encourages deliberately giving that time to yourself and scheduling it just as you would any other event on your calendar.
Ultimately, Chernow believes showing up for yourself helps you show up that much better for life—and he's certainly an embodiment of that messaging.
Personally, I left our conversation fully inspired to get more intentional about my mornings. I've since started to carve out some time for myself rather than hopping from bed to laptop, and I've already noticed a profound impact on my mental well-being as a result.
Now, inspired by Chernow, I'm challenging you: What's one small habit you can add to your morning, to help you feel amazing and set your day up for success?
Kristine Thomason is the health and fitness director at mindbodygreen. Kristine is a New York University graduate with a degree in journalism and psychology, and also a NASM-certified personal trainer. She has spent her editorial career focused on health and well-being, and formerly worked for Women’s Health and Health. Her byline has also appeared in Men’s Health, Greatist, Refinery29, HGTV, and more. In her current role she oversees, edits, and writes for the health, food, and movement sections of mindbodygreen.