Who's the sweatiest, hardest-working person at a rock 'n' roll show?
Chances are it's the guy or gal at the rear of the stage, behind the wildly clanging cymbals. Watch that head bob, those arms flail, the drum sticks fly.
"A cardio workout is definitely what you get," said Reid Burnett, drummer for Via Dove, a St. Louis-area alternative band. "Your pulse is up, and you're sweating in the first five minutes. It's a whole body thing. You're sitting, but your arms, legs, even your back is involved."
A lot of us desk jockeys sit slumped in our chairs for hours on end; we have to carve out time several days a week for cardio and strength workouts.
But for many people, such as drummers, landscapers and laborers in smelting plants, their job is their workout. If they're not fit and strong when they take the job, they usually get that way quickly. Some companies have even begun hiring personal trainers and physical therapists to whip employees into shape and keep them injury-free.
Burnett, 28, of St. Louis, does yoga several times a week to stay limber and stretches before gigs to loosen up his forearms, wrists and even hamstrings to prevent muscle cramps. During the concert, he pays close attention to how he's sitting.
"You have to keep your posture correct or you'll get tired," he said. "It's pretty technical."
Ryan Adams, drummer for The Dock Ellis Band, said he watches his posture and tries to stay active.
"Like today I put 300 pounds of compost on my garden, and I ride my bike a lot," said Adams, 26, of St. Louis. "It's a matter of paying attention early so you don't do damage without knowing it. I'm constantly trying to refine my drumming technique to hit with less impact."
Burnett and Adams noted how schlepping drum kits in and out of clubs is a workout all by itself. Both have started paring their kits down in recent years. Gigs can be few and far between at times, so drummers don't put themselves through the paces as much as a lot of full-time laborers.
Electricians, carpenters, nurses, firefighters and any trade that involves heavy lifting require a certain amount of endurance and strength day in and day out, said Bill Franzen, physical therapist and president of PRORehab in Ballwin, Mo. A lot of companies have created initiatives to get employees fit for their jobs, he added.
"We do 'Fit-For-Duty' testing where we evaluate an employee's capability to handle the essential functions of their job, to make sure there's a good fit between their work load and their ability," Franzen said. "If there's a gap, the company will send them to us for training to increase endurance and strength."
For instance, he said, if an employee has to lift an item weighing 75 pounds from floor to waist several times a day, his therapists would prepare total body conditioning programs to get them in shape for that action. This lowers the risk of injuries and burnout.
"We'll do an entire firehouse to make sure they're all meeting job demands, and not just rookies but guys who've been on the force for awhile," Franzen said.
THE SHAPE OF WORKERS
When Patrick Hazzard, co-owner of Hazzard Moving & Storage in St. Louis, hires movers, he tries to get a handle on what kind of physical shape applicants are in.
"I can't afford to give everyone a physical who applies for a job," Hazzard said. "So I have to rely on background checks to find out if they have back injuries that would hurt their performance. We don't specifically ask the amount of weight they can lift. But I do ask if they have any concerns about handling a job like this that requires significant weight lifting."
Moving heavy furniture, Hazzard said, can be an anaerobic workout that relies on technique and equipment as much as size and strength.
"We train our employees on the proper way to lift to avoid injury," he said. "We teach them to use their legs more than their back."
Beyond that, Hazzard never suggests that his movers do additional workouts to maintain fitness.
"If I suggested that to them, they would look at me with a raised eyebrow," he said. "Their job IS the workout for them."
Experts point out that while many jobs physically tax the body in terms of cardiovascular output or heavy lifting, very few do both. And none keep the body flexible. Being fit in all three ways is important for preventing injuries and prolonging viability in highly physical jobs.
"You get put in such awkward positions, and you don't know when you'll be put in those unstable environments," said Scott Roberts, director of performance training at Sports Medicine & Training Centers in Webster Groves and Creve Coeur, Mo. "You want to make sure you're strong throughout the whole body so when you get on the job site your body knows how to respond."
But, he adds, you must find the right workout program at the right intensity for any given job.
A lot of jobs, Roberts points out, require grip strength in the hands and forearms. A lot of heavy strength-training in the morning before work could hurt grip strength during the day, so those people must do exercises that improve overall strength without tiring their forearms or their grip.
"I hate to sound basic but pushups don't tire out the forearms," Roberts said. "Also exercises for back and shoulder muscles especially the rotator cuffs."
Laborers must also find the right balance between getting fitter without getting injured or overtrained which could compromise their jobs. Roberts recommends finding an all-in-one strength and conditioning programs that last 30 to 45 minutes, rather than doing 30 minutes of cardio followed by 30 minutes of weights.
Hydration and nutrition are also important.
"If they're going to get a workout in after (work), they'll hit the wall if they haven't taken care of themselves throughout the day," he said.
Recently, when Jennifer Schamber, general manager of Greenscape Gardens & Gifts in west St. Louis County, was mailing pay stubs to employees, she included a sheet suggesting ways to prepare for the upcoming gardening rush, when they'll have to hoist bags of mulch, topsoil and compost into vehicles.
"That's one of our biggest sellers, bags of material, and we're looking at 40-pound bags," she said. "I have to make sure that everyone takes care of themselves and gets plenty of sleep so they can be healthy going into the next few months."
'THEIR OWN ROUTINE'
Tree planters have an even tougher job because they hand dig the holes, and, as Schamber points out, some of the soil around St. Louis can be rocky and have a lot of clay content. Some of the staff at Greenscape try to maintain fitness in the offseason.
"Everyone has their own routine," she said. "I try to jog a couple times a week. Others here do more than that. But in the winter, especially with holidays, I feel like I tack on a little bit of weight. Then by end of season we're all at our leanest."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times