Much has changed for Adam Kreek since winning Olympic gold in rowing. Years later, he’s now a husband and father who spends more time behind a desk than in a racing scull. He’s become a business athlete who needs to stay fit and healthy for both his career and family to thrive. How does he do it? Read on to find out.
The desk is the death of me. I spend too much time behind a computer screen, sitting in a chair, feeling my butt get fatter and flatter as I pour through emails and field phone calls. As a corporate trainer and storyteller, when I’m not at my desk I practically live in airports, hotels and conference centres. Meetings are spiked with sugar, fat and salt, relationships are built with alcohol, and deadlines are met with late nights and early mornings.
I’ve chosen to write this column for CBC Sports because I know there are a lot of men like me out there. You used to be fit. You remember what it was like to have tons of energy, and you know you could use some help regaining that healthy vitality.
As I focus on my career and family responsibilities, I often feel like an extreme example of these guys. My Olympic fitness is gone, but I work in a competitive landscape where I know that I will deliver more when I’m fit and healthy. Good health is that extra inch.
In the sport of rowing, races are won by fractions of an inch. In our quest to gain inches, my eight-man crew left no stones unturned. Before races we would all urinate into a bottle and dump the waste into the water. We weren’t marking our territory — we were removing up to four and a half pounds of weight from our boat. A lighter crew means a faster boat. An extra inch gained.
Our coach Mike Spracklen, who is coaching the Russian Olympic team for Rio 2016, drilled the concept of inches into our minds, bodies and spirits. “Inch by inch,” he would say in his genteel British accent. “Always be inching!”
We won the 2008 Olympic race by more than a second. That’s 220 inches, or about one inch for every stroke we took.
Those small gains really do add up, in Olympic rowing as in guys’ everyday lives. That’s my point: Taking small steps forward, consistently over time, can make a big difference to your health and fitness.
In my view, however, there’s no substitute for first-hand experience. And as I’ve explained, I’ve felt the flat-butt blues in spades. My inaugural Men’s Health Moment, then, is all about defeating those office desk doldrums:
Tip 1: Musical chairs
If you notice you’re having problems with your back or knees, switch it up with an ergonomic desk chair, a wobbly stool or an exercise ball that will allow you to sit comfortably and injury-free.
Tip 2: Stand up more phone calls
Standing gives your voice more power. It increases your heart rate and circulation, which in turn gives your brain a boost. I find I have more energy and get better results if I stand and walk while talking on the phone. I use it as a cue: Phone time means it’s time to get moving.
Tip 3: Ditch your desk
Staying active will help you get focused and energized. Ditch your desk every hour. Go for a walk around the office. Even better, get outside! On your walk, get some water or speak to your colleagues instead of messaging them. If your workload is high, bring your laptop or smartphone with you and find a small nook where you can re-focus on your work. Using a timer is a great way to remind yourself to move regularly until it becomes a healthy habit.