Keeping it lean and muscular here on tear sheet Thursday now with ‘Hit The Road Jacked’ a story about how truck drivers are trying to keep it fit and healthy for Mens Health magazine.
Shot back in freezing January (yes that sun is deceiving but these guys are tough mofo’s) I first journeyed to the HQ of trucking company Prime Inc in Springfield Missouri. There I hung out with Siphiwe Baleka the mastermind behind the Driver Health And Fitness program at Prime.
Siphiwe is a former driver and a workout fanatic who went to great measures to take care of himself while on the road. He now preaches what the practiced and has put together a one of a kind fitness and nutrition program that’s open to all Prime drivers.
Long haul truck drivers certainly get a bad rap in the health category and its by no means easy to manage let alone maintain any sort of a healthy existence. Hours of driving are punctuated by breaks in god forsaken truck stops with little more to offer in terms of nutrition then the usual fast food fare.
Miles = money so that speaks volumes for the life of a trucker. It also takes real discipline then to break the stereotypes not only from outside but also from within the culture and carry work out gear in your truck (and use it), search out fresh food and generally take care of yourself.
I spent some time with two of Primes finest. Firstly I photographed Rodney McCloud who was the winner of Primes fittest driver competition. An imposing man he likes to lift weights during his rest stops and carries a whole set including a bench press in his cab.
Then I actually took to the road for 36 hours with the second driver Justin Boosche and documented his routine for real. As you can imagine there was more driving then picture taking as we took off from Prime in Springfield picked up a load locally and headed east towards our drop off point just outside Columbus Ohio.
This was my first time driving shotgun in a big rig. I can’t begin to tell you how smooth the ride was in our state of the art Peterbuilt. After 7-8 hours sitting in the seat I had no problems jumping down from the cab and walking around. Felt like first class what with the air cushioned seat and the fine views from the elevated vantage point. Normally I am super stiff after a few hours sitting in a regular car.
The road can indeed be monotonous there is no doubt about that. Certainly not helped in the truckers case by the need to stick to deadlines which means there is little or no time even desire to take the scenic route. It does take a certain type of person, a lifestyle like this.
The key to the Driver Health and Fitness program is to work out at least 15 minutes a day at maximum intensity. As well as weights, resistance bands etc the tractor and trailer themselves can be used as an integral part of the work out. This is certainly a big help as I can’t imagine a gym being commonplace (or even exist) at truck stops.
Justin likes to work out in the morning after his mandatory rest stops before hitting the road. He is also fanatical about watching what he eats now after completing the program. He like to eat at Chipotle if possible and picks up fresh produce from Sam’s Club, fruit, carrots, rotisserie chicken, eggs and the like. Remember parking an 18 wheeler is a bit of an issue so stopping by a local farmers market in the center of town to pick up some fruit is never an option. Justin always chooses a Chipotle that has a mega store close by as it makes for easy parking. Helps too if its a Sam’s Club and Chipotle combo naturally.
Big thanks to Jeanne and the team at Mens Health and also to Siphiwe, Rodney and Justin for another memorable life experience…