Ex-NFL star Chris Gronkowski now runs a business bringing in millions — here's his morning routine

Running back Chris Gronkowski #49 of the Denver Broncos during player warm-ups prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Jamie Squire | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Many people know the Gronkowski family through football. Rob Gronkowski, 29, famously nicknamed "the Gronk," is set to become the highest paid tight end in the NFL, playing for the New England Patriots.

But his older brother, Chris Gronkowski, 31, who also played in the NFL, is chasing success off the field as an entrepreneur. Big brother Gronkowski, who once turned down the opportunity to study at the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton business school to pursue football, is now the founder of a brand called Ice Shaker, which sells stainless steel protein shakers.

Gronkowski appeared on ABC's "Shark Tank" in October 2017 and from Mark Cuban and Alex Rodriguez for a 15 percent stake in the company. His brothers — Rob, Glenn, Dan and Gordie, who have all had professional sports careers — came on the show for moral support.

After appearing on the show, business has boomed: "We had $80,000 in sales when we pitched on 'Shark Tank,' and we've hit over $3 million in sales since then," Chris Gronkowski tells CNBC Make It.

ABC | Michael Desmond | Getty Images

But running the business isn't easy — Chris Gronkowski wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to get everything done. Here's what his typical day looks like.

He wakes up early

Gronkowski is up with the sun. After eating breakfast and getting ready for the gym, he takes a minute to "answer a few important emails and check what I have going on for the day," Gronkowski says.

Successful business people from Apple's Tim Cook to Ellevest's Sallie Krawcheck famously wake up early, and billionaire Elon Musk also checks important emails first thing.

He exercises

Gronkowski tries to "get to the gym around 5:00 a.m. or 5:15 a.m.," and spends about an hour working out.

After doing strength training and weight lifting, he plays pick up basketball for another hour from 6:00 a.m to 7.

Working out is a habit successful people tend to have in common — 76 percent of the rich exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, according to Tom Corley, author of "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life." And billionaires from Mark Zuckerberg to Richard Branson call it an integral part of their routine.

He spends time with his family

From the gym, Gronkowski heads home to for some quality time with his two infant sons and wife Brittany, who is also an entrepreneur, and owns an engraving business called Everything Decorated.

"[I] get home before the kids wake up, shower, drink a shake and eat breakfast," Gronkowski says. "[I] hang out with the kids until 8:30 then start working."

Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world and founder of Amazon, also takes time to have breakfast with his family before he starts his work day.

He makes it home for dinner

After work, "I try to get home by 5:00 p.m. [to] eat dinner and hang out with the family and kids until they go to bed at 9:00 p.m.," he says. "Then I finish up any work that I didn't get done during the day."

Gronkowski's routine seems to be serving him well. Ice Shaker started with a single product, an upscale version of the plastic cups used to mix up protein shakes, and now sells over two dozen styles of the insulated bottles, including tumblers and stemless cups. (The classic 26 ounce stainless steel shaker costs $29.99.)

Investor Alex Rodriguez told CNBC Make It in February that investing in Chris was a good decision. "He's been terrific," Rodriguez says. "He's under promised and he's over delivered. Our sales have done incredibly well."

Although it isn't always easy, Gronkowski says building his company has been a dream: "It's been life changing really."

Don't miss: This NFL star turned Wharton MBA grad landed a big job at Goldman Sachs — here's his No. 1 key for success

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