Morning “Power Hour” Challenge – done right the authorities don’t get called!

It is 7 am in a small hotel room in London and there is steam everywhere. My hotel room phone sounds and I pick it up to hear a concerned desk clerk inquiring if everything is okay. Evidently the alarm for my room went off at the front desk. Out of breath I assured him everything is fine and hang up the phone. Moments later I hear a knock at the door and I scurry to make myself decent. My tiny room is in disarray with the ironing board on its side and the bed pushed against the far wall to make space for sit ups, push ups and burpees. The steam from the shower blankets the ceiling including the smoke detectors. My breakfast of fruit, oats, nuts and a smoothie is half eaten on the desk and I’m still panting.

After I apologize to another desk clerk through a cracked door I look at my watch. Shit. Not going to make it. Clearly a power hour failure on several levels. I didn’t think through the format of the room or properly prep my clothes the night before. My last ditch effort including steaming my shirt in the bathroom clearly backfired. Better luck next time. If you want to win this challenge you need to bring your “A” game.

While this did happen I’m happy to report that I’ve never been detained or permanently banished from a hotel. Even though power hours sometimes fail, I’m still a big advocate of the challenge.

You see, through the course of every morning there are activities that should be done to start the day off right. You can argue specifics and the order, but we should eat a good sized healthy breakfast and spend some time in the bathroom. Ideally there is a workout of some sort which often warrants a shower. We want to be presentable which may require teeth maintenance, some mirror time and adequate dress for the day.

What then, do you do on the mornings when you are dealt a tough hand? If you don’t have time for your normal routine? A meeting that popped up earlier than expected, an early flight out or the need to meet someone for coffee before a busy day?

Give up your workout? Grab a bar on your way out the door? I don’t think so.

Take the power hour challenge! That is… if you think you can take it.

The challenge (in any order):
Eat (good sized healthy breakfast)
Get done up
Get dressed
While completing these things, an unwritten objective is to not have the authorities, hotel or otherwise, contacted.

What! Too daunting? Too uncomfortable? It is a challenge after all.


In general, I’m a big advocate of variety when it comes to workouts and try to switch it up as much as possible. So when my time is short my standby workout, Hit the Deck, has variety built in.

Here is how it goes. Grab a shower towel and lay it on the floor (and a hand towel if you sweat). Take a shuffled deck of 52 cards and put them face down. Each time you flip a card, the suit of the card dictates the exercise:
Diamonds = push ups
Hearts = sit ups
Spades = air squats
Clubs = burpees

The numbered cards tell the number of reps.
Face cards are 10 reps.
Aces are 15 reps.
Take the Jokers out.

So let’s assume the first card is an 8 of hearts. Lay down on the towel and bang out 8 sit ups then quickly flip the next card. It is an ace of spades so you’ll need to do 15 air squats then quickly flip the next card. Keep moving until you’ve completed the entire deck.

This is a FANTASTIC workout. First it is challenging from a strength and cardio standpoint. The cards are randomized so you never know what you are going to get. If you have multiple diamonds in a row it becomes a push up challenge. If you have a run of Clubs and the burpees wear you down. Second, there is a trade off. The faster you go the more exhausted you get. I’ve been able to complete this in under 15 minutes but when I do I feel like laying down and looking up at the ceiling for 10 minutes to cool down. The trick is to do this at a good clip and be able to function afterwards.

I used to use an actual deck of cards but now, like most things, there is an “app for that.” I like to use the free “Deck-o-Cards” app. Each time you touch the screen it gives you another card. It is much easier than bringing an actual deck of cards on the road.

EAT (good-sized healthy breakfast)
What you eat for your breakfast will largely depend on your diet. Some of my favorite breakfast dishes include:

  • Daddy breakfast: sliced banana, oats, raisins, walnuts, blue berries, unsweetened almond milk
  • Veggie smoothie: kale, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries, Brazil nuts, crushed red peppers, whatever else I can find in the fridge!
  • Road food: On the road I’ll sub in a Naked Juice (or a drink where the first ingredient is not apple juice), fresh fruit, and trail mix.

The goal is to get enough great quality calories so you don’t end up hungry in a couple hours or need to compensate with larger meals later in the day. Should you dare eat before the workout then a secondary goal is to keep it down!

Pretty straightforward. Depending on how hard you work out, jumping in the shower soon after you are done may not be that productive if you are still sweating! Laying out and ironing your clothes the night before saves precious time during the challenge. It also avoids ending up with painful combinations of clothes that should not be worn together.

Touch the door knob! No seriously. You have to touch it to stop the clock. When you do it means that the above are all done and you could leave without looking back. If you need to go back in and pick up a mess, repack your bag, change clothes or eat more breakfast then you didn’t successfully complete the challenge.

Is it fun? Oh yeah. It really depends on your attitude going in. I like to treat it like a race and set out everything the night before, even pouring almond milk on my breakfast the night before to save time. When the clock starts it is mentally and physically trying, but the challenge of it makes it fun and requires more focus. It isn’t easy to do this well in one hour.

Some tips for the road warrior:

If you do this in your hotel room: Be careful when you do your burpees. Each time you hit the floor be mindful of the noise you make if you have neighbors downstairs. I like to listen to Pandora on my phone while I have my deck of cards app up. Same thing applies to the volume on the phone. Just because you are doing the power hour doesn’t mean your neighbors need to accompany you on your challenge. Not altruistic? In that case do it because if the front desk gets notified of your shenanigans you will lose time when they knock on your door.

Less is better when it comes to workout clothes. If you are staying in your hotel room (without a roommate) and the shades are closed then less is better when it comes to workout clothes. That equates to less drying and less packing home dirty clothes when you are done. Plus they change out sweaty workout towels each day anyways.

If you need even more of a challenge use your alarm clock or wake up call as your signal to start. Usually it takes a few minutes to wake up and log some bathroom time. Going into Hit the Deck is more challenging half asleep so start slow to give your body time to warm up.

And… if you chose to try the challenge give yourself a buffer the first few times in case you don’t make it. In other words the first time out of the gate don’t set your alarm for 5 am if you need to leave the hotel at 6 am. Feel free to modify the workout as needed (modified push ups, half the deck, etc). After you’ve done a couple challenges you can reassess your buffer.

In short, the power hour isn’t a challenge to be done every morning but it is a handy way to expedite morning activities without sacrificing a good workout and breakfast. So what do you say Long Gamers? Are you up for the Challenge?

Comment if you try it please post your time and where you completed it! Call out if it was an “alarm clock start!”

Also published on Medium.

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As a father, husband, plant based athlete and life-long student, I love continuously learning and reflecting on things that contribute to long, healthy, successful lives. All our choices on nutrition, physical fitness, community, spirituality and finding our purpose make a difference in living long, fulfilling lives. Thanks for reading - feel free to reach out with comments or questions!


As a father, husband, plant based athlete and life-long student, I love continuously learning and reflecting on things that contribute to long, healthy, successful lives. All our choices on nutrition, physical fitness, community, spirituality and finding our purpose make a difference in living long, fulfilling lives. Thanks for reading - feel free to reach out with comments or questions!

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