The CEO of a top travel app who gets up at 5:15 a.m. says he tricked himself into becoming a morning person by changing his daily exercise routine
- Sam Shank, CEO of booking app HotelTonight, gets up at 5:15 every morning, even though he wasn't always a morning person.
- He says that starting his morning with a workout class helped him adjust to the new routine.
- The penalties incurred by missed classes and the expectation of seeing the same people in workout classes were key parts of making the change stick.
Sam Shank wasn't always a morning person. Nowadays, though, the HotelTonight CEO starts every morning bright and early.
"I get up at 5:15 every morning, and if you'd told me five years ago that I'd be getting up that early, I'd be like, 'you're crazy,'" he recently told Business Insider.As someone who wasn't necessarily hardwired for early mornings, Shank used to exercise after work. However, moving those workouts to the beginning of the day proved "transformational" for his lifestyle: Getting his exercise - which varies from HIIT workouts and boot camp classes to pilates and yoga - done in the morning allows him to be in the office by 7:30 a.m. and fuels him with energy for the whole day. It also frees up time in the evening to spend with his family.
As for the trick that got him to stick to the routine, Shank found the solution in gym classes.
"It was committing to an exercise class," he said. "There's a penalty if you don't show up at Equinox or ClassPass ... and there's an expectation where you see the same people all the time."
"That commitment was key for me," he added.
Shank launched the online travel company in January 2011. Users are able to book discounted, last-minute hotel rooms via its app or mobile site, and they can access a wide range of hotels across international destinations.Read more: The CEO of a top travel app says the best boutique hotels all have the same 2 things in common, no matter what city they're in
His morning routine puts him in good company. Early mornings are a common feature of many successful peoples' routines, from actors like Melissa McCarthy, who gets up at 4:30 a.m. and starts her day with a "carefully curated" routine to CEOs like Tim Cook, who reportedly starts his day at 3:45 a.m.
But a morning workout is just one way in which the CEO is deliberate with his time.
He also noted that he blocks out what he calls "Sam time" on his calendar: two- to three-hour chunks that he purposely leaves unplanned and unscheduled. He uses that time for anything from talking to members of his 260-person team and checking in with mentors to delving into any given detail of his company's work.
"I made it a goal for my assistant to put those in my calendar for five hours a week," Shank explained.