It’s 4:30 a.m. as Daniel Rodic steps outside of his apartment into the crisp morning air, where a light fog hangs over top of the buildings, giving the sky an eerie purple glow.
He’s dressed in leggings, running shoes and a muscle shirt under a thin jacket. After finishing his first coffee and packing his office clothes in a backpack, he begins the walk into Yorkville with a bright smile on his face.
He travels through his childhood neighbourhood, a few blocks away from the University of Toronto, which he attended as a student in the business program.
Toronto has always been home for Rodic.
A few hours from now, he will make his way downtown to his Harbour Street office, where he is the CEO and co-founder of advertising and marketing company Exact Media.
Rodic’s company does business all over North America, pairing sample products with retail purchases, such as giving a sample protein bar to someone who has purchased exercise equipment.
With his business making millions of dollars in sales in the first few years of operation, this success led to Rodic being named one of Forbes Magazine “30 under 30,” which showcases young entrepreneurs in the business world.
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“You should just measure your success against yourself, not against anyone else.”
“You can use other people as benchmarks, but you can never know what people went through to get where they are.”
But Rodic is not awake at this early hour to work on his business. This morning, he works on himself.
He’s on his way to Barry’s Bootcamp for a 6 a.m. group fitness class, but his first stop is Tim Hortons, just before 5 a.m., to get a double espresso shot.
While in university, Rodic says he weighed close to 220 lbs, and had poor dietary and sleeping habits. Today he weighs around 160 lbs, wakes up early in the morning to do his regimented workouts and is in amazing shape.
Rodic says it was a slow process to evolve from an out-of-shape night owl to an early morning exercise fanatic, but he says it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
On this early morning, after walking through empty Yorkville, he enters Barry’s Bootcamp minutes after they open and makes his way into their fitness studio.
The room is dark and the lights are blood red, with the treadmills lined up along a long mirrored wall. The studio’s ominous feel is perfect for the intense training Rodic and 22 others will be going through soon.
Before anyone else has entered the building for class, Rodic steps onto the treadmill, begins a slow walk and builds into an easy jog.
“If something is difficult, or perceived to be uncomfortable, it’s just about conditioning. You should just go do it because it will benefit you. That’s like fitness to a ‘T.’ If you don’t work out to failure, then you’re not going to see any results,” says Rodic.
As people slowly arrive for the 6 a.m. class, Rodic is greeted by the Bootcamp’s instructor Hayley Steinberg.
After everyone is in the room, Steinberg shuts the door and puts on her wireless headset. She starts the jarringly loud Hip Hop and EDM tracks through the gym’s speakers and begins shouting instructions to the class, starting the workout like an Olympic sprint.
“I hear people say that it’s so hard to get up that early, and they’re right. Getting here is the hardest part, but once you’re here, you don’t regret it. It’s literally the best way to start the day,” says Steinberg.
It’s early in the hour long workout, and Rodic is in the middle of the group running noticeably faster than anyone else in the group, and on a slight incline.
Steinberg gives the class a countdown, telling them to sprint to the finish. The room shakes as the class increase their speed. When the class is given permission to rest, Rodic continues to sprint for an extra few seconds.
“The guy is the hardest worker in the room. Every single time,” says Steinberg. “Not to mention that he’s so mentally fit, he just doesn’t stop.”
Rodic is still wearing the same smile he had at 4:30 a.m. He is in his element. After this workout he says he will be centered and energized for the rest of the day. He credits the early morning routine as one of the reasons why he is so successful in the business world.
The class ends the same as it began, in an all out sprint. Rodic steps out of the room with steam rising from his body, laughing and smiling with everyone in the class. He finishes showering and steps out from Barry’s Bootcamp into a loud and bustling city, making his way downtown for the day.
“Having looked back, I can’t imagine a time I’ve ever regretted waking up early for a class,” he says.
It’s just another morning in the life of a Toronto CEO.
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