Bartending can make healthy living a challenge. But not impossible. Just talk to any of the bartenders who are training with the Bartender Boxing Organization for a chance to fight at a competition during Tales of the Cocktail later this month.
To get bartenders into boxing shape — with or without the actual slugging part of it — we asked Justin Fortune, former heavyweight champion who heads up LA’s Fortune Gym, and Lou Savarese, former heavyweight champion who heads up Houston’s Main Gym, what to do. Here's what they said:
The first thing to do, says Fortune, who was waiting for a plane to travel with boxer Manny Pacquaio to Australia, is to start moving. “Put your shoes on, walk out the front door, and run,” Fortune says. “If you have no wind, you’re useless. You have to get your cardio up.”
Start slowly, Fortune says, then build your way up so that you’re running at least 35 to 45 minutes every day.
Savarese recommends balancing regular cardio workouts with strength training. “On days you’re not running, do lower body one day, then do upper body the other day to cover your resistance training,” he says.
But the main thing, both agree, is to get started, and to do something. “It’s hard just making the start,” Fortune says. “Once you make the start, you’re fine. It’s difficult, but once you’re doing it, you don’t even think about it.
Stretch it out
Because bartenders are on their feet all night, before starting a shift, Savarese recommends stretching the entire body out, starting from the ground up. “You’ll want to do 30 seconds for each stretch, and do three sets of stretching for each exercise,” Savarese says.
First, start with calf stretches, just going up against the wall to stretch each leg out. Then do a standing hurdler stretch in which you stand back, place your leg on a table or a chair and reach out over it to stretch. Then, to stretch your glutes, gently pull each leg back to stretch it behind.
To stretch your back out, Savarese recommends crossing one leg in front of the other, then stretching down to the floor, really gently. To stretch out the chest, stand in a doorway and put both arms out, then step forward gently. “Then, do neck rolls, and you pretty much have your whole body,” Savarese says.
Cut out sugar
This is a hard one, but it will give you the best results. “It’s so important to get the sugar out of your diet,” Fortune says, adding if he were to recommend one single thing for bartenders to do, this would be it.
“If you cut out sugar, you’ll drop a massive amount of weight, your system will move, and you’ll feel better,” Fortune says. “Everyone wants to make it complicated, but it’s really, really basic. Get rid of all the crap, and you’re halfway there.”
Savarese says he does his best not to keep junk food in his house. “Keep healthy things around to nibble on,” he says. “Don’t wait too long or you’ll get ravenous.”
Drink more water
Fortune says cut all alcohol, sweetened coffee, soda, and shakes out of your diet for 10 days, and just drink water. “Once you’re [properly] hydrated, everything else works better,” Fortune says.
Savarese says one of his big weaknesses is Diet Coke. “I know it’s bad for me so I keep carbonated club soda around to drink if I start craving my Diet Coke,” he says.
Get enough sleep
Optimally, people need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep. If you’re not sleeping well, your body won’t work as well. Sleep helps relax sore muscles and aids in tissue repair and growth, including muscle development, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Come up with a plan and stick to it
“The big thing is getting people to do it,” Fortune says. “That’s the thing.”
Savarese says that it’s best to just get started. “Habits are hard to break,” Savarese says. “A lot of people wait too long until they have a kind of drastic injury, and a doctor tells them they have to change their life. It’s better to be pre-emptive.”