The Health and Fitness Secrets of People Who Drink for a Living

We asked 30+ bar-industry pros what they'll be doing to stay trim in the new year

January 3, 2020 9:15 am
Bartender Boxing Bar Spar
Bar Spar is an industry fitness initiative by Bartender Boxing
Bartender Boxing

You think your job makes it difficult to stay fit?

For people who work in hospitality — beverage directors, bar owners, bartenders, booze publicists, etc. — the struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle is exacerbated. Booze and temptation surround you day and night. 

“Staying healthy in the bar industry can definitely be tough,” admits Gareth Evans, the Global Brand Ambassador for Absolut Elyx. “[But] I think there’s a misconception with people doing similar jobs to mine that we are always out partying and drinking.”

Which is true. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the large number of people working with food or booze who are fit and able-bodied. Wanting to learn their secrets, I asked a few of ’em about their healthy routines.

Thankfully, their advice is applicable to any lifestyle. “When you work in this industry, it is not always sensible to do ‘dry January,’” says Gabriela Marchand, a publicist for KLG PR in New York. “I know not to put unrealistic pressure on myself and instead focus on moderation and keeping with my daily fitness activities.”

As Grant Gedemer, the food and beverage director at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, notes: “I think living healthy is less a matter of what you are around and more about discipline and self-control.”


“It’s been a complete 180 for my lifestyle since I started the Bartender Boxing Bar Spar program. I’ve stopped drinking beer, I don’t drink the night before I have a work out. I’m sleeping better, and I feel more energized throughout the day. On my off days, I’m working out around the house doing push-ups, crunches, pull-ups and planks.” — Jason Lane, General Manager at About Last Knife (Chicago)

“I always take my running gear whenever I travel. Running even a little bit every day always helps me to focus, kills jet lag and is a really great way to explore new places. It says on the wall of my local gym ‘no one ever said I really regret that workout,’ and it’s completely true.” — Gareth Evans, Global Brand Ambassador, Absolut Elyx 

“I take gym classes every day before work and I don’t let any night activity interrupt this routine. I also abstain from non-clients evening activities Monday through Wednesday and opt to do other activities like indoor rock climbing with friends.” — Gabriela Marchand, Publicist KLG PR

“Doing yoga or hitting a boxing class. I also eat a lot of vegetables and fish as well as greens. And when I drink, I drink a glass of water or two for every cocktail or wine I have.” — Kenneth McCoy, Chief Creative Officer of The Rum House

“I do 20-minute runs 1-3 times per week and on non-run days, I do weights or a series of jumping jacks, crunches, push-ups and lunges if I’m short on time. Basically, calories in need to equal calories out.” — Allison Parc, Founder and President for Brenne French Single Malt Whisky

“I try to run at least three times a week. I’m always training for some race or another and have completed five marathons so far.” — Grant Gedemer, food and beverage director at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago

“Developing a routine is key. When I was a bartender, I would ride my bike to work and that helped get some light cardio before and after my shift. I would also get myself a healthy green juice on my way in with a kick of ginger, which always put me in a better mind frame than coffee or a heavy meal.” — Brandon Wise, Vice President of Beverage Operations of Sage Restaurant Group

“I actually enjoy brutal, punishing workouts, so having that in my life is a great way to reset and build both physical and mental strength. And I’ll very casually go for weeks and months without drinking alcohol and it won’t feel like a deprivation — especially now that there are so many great non-alcoholic options, and not drinking has become so much more normalized.” — John deBary, Founder of Proteau

“I make sure to schedule dance classes in between all of my other meetings, shifts, events, etc. Sometimes I schedule my lyra (aerial hoop) classes earlier than I would like to be awake, so that I have to drink less the night before.” — Yael Vengroff, Beverage Director at The Spare Room and Genghis Cohen (Los Angeles)

“I’ve trained myself to think of running as a reward instead of a ‘have-to.’ Getting outside makes me feel refreshed, alive and ready to face the day’s challenges. When I’m ready for a drink at the end of a shift, it’s easier to call it a night after a single round.” — Delores Tronco-DePierro, Owner/Founder of The Banty Rooster (NYC)

“I gave up drinking about three years ago and a number of our staff have as well. Every morning we hold ‘Buccan Boot Camp’ in a local park, which is led by an instructor and is open to our restaurant group and pretty much anyone else who wants to show up.” — Clay Conley, Chef/Owner at Buccan (Miami)


“I start my days with a hot yoga class. It helps reduce stress, detoxify the body and gives me a positive state of mind. Also, there are trending hashtags on Instagram right now (#EarnYourBooze and #PayThemDues) which encourage bartenders to do some sort of physical activity before indulging in a night of cocktails.” — Melina Meza, Beverage Director at Olivetta (Los Angeles) 

“I take hot yoga classes in the morning before work and do my best to hit the gym at least three days a week. Being active before my shift sets me up for a great day.” — Riley Andrews, General Manager, Waydown at Ace Hotel (Chicago)

“Bikram yoga is the perfect balance this time of year to center the mind, thaw out the body and stay in shape all in one setting. It’s a one-stop workout and therapy session that keeps you focused and in shape while the world seems to hibernate.” — Alex Carlin, Beverage Director of Fairgrounds Fulton Market (Chicago)

“I took yoga teacher training through Outlaw Yoga (yoga and rock-n-roll!) in Colorado to better understand the moves and the effect they have on my body. I bring a fold-up travel mat with me when I travel and will drop it down in my hotel room first thing in the morning and spend a minimum of 30 minutes doing a revised routine of fast vinyasa movement and static poses.” — Rob Dietrich, Master Distiller of Blackened Whiskey



“I drink cocktails made with Seedlip, a spirit that’s alcohol-free and full of flavor. Imbibing on a Seedlip Grove paired with a nice bottle of tonic is a perfect way to spend a day at home not drinking.” — Marshall Minaya, Beverage Director at Valerie (NYC)

“Pour-over espresso over ice with oat milk is a go-to. And when I don’t want something caffeinated, I’ll have bubbly water. This may sound strange, but I think I get a little buzz from sparkling water.” — Ravi Derossi, Owner of Night Music and Founder of Derossi Global (NYC) 

“I’m a peppermint tea with honey guy. The peppermint opens up my sinuses, honey feels good on the throat and there is still caffeine so I feel like I can be productive.” — Sam Mushman, Beverage Director and Sommelier at Arthouse Wine Bar/Arthouse Hotel (NYC)

“I decided to stop drinking in July of 2019 and it was the best decision I could have made. I’ve found a better work/life balance, as well as developed a better system to manage the day-to-day admin and evening accounts visits. I also invested in a nicer gym that provides multiple options when it comes to fitness to keep me engaged.” — Michael Toscano, Brand Ambassador Woodford Reserve

“I’ve been curbing my alcohol consumption in social settings by trying some non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ you can enjoy with a splash of tonic or soda and still feel like you’re having a cocktail, such as Flora Hemp Spirits.” — Adam Peabody, head of mixology at LondonHouse Chicago’s LH Rooftop


“The most important thing I do to take care of myself is talk with close family and friends. What we do is hard and draining. The only way that you can have anything in your tank to give to others is to take care of yourself.” — Cameron Shaw, Bar Manager at Lot 15 (NYC)

“Practice meditation or breathing techniques to handle stressful situations and pressure. Physically, stretch and implement some yoga classes or running or swimming into a daily routine.” — Martin Hudak, Global Coffee Ambassador for Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur

“Daily meditation. Sometimes slowing down and re-centering yourself is exactly what you need to keep your mind in a good place. Whether it’s in your car before a shift or at home after a long night, a little bit of silence can be reinvigorating.” — Erick Castro, Co-Founder of San Diego’s Raised By Wolves and Polite Provisions (San Diego)

“Putting family first is how I regiment my alcohol intake. I have three kids and an amazing wife that depend on me, and I want to be present for them as often as I possibly can.” — Chris Patino, Co-Founder of Raised By Wolves (San Diego)


“To adjust for extra calories, I practice intermittent fasting and keep a diet based on protein consumption. I try not to eat for 14-16 hours between my last meal of a day and the first meal of the following. This allows my body to reset and causes less food cravings throughout the day.” — Jake Hukee, Brand Ambassador for Starward Whisky

“At home we tend to eat mostly vegetables and take one night of the week to treat ourselves to a bigger, richer meal (with plenty of wine). I also bike to work as often as possible and I’ve been doing these 10-minute kettlebell workouts daily.” — Cody Henson, Beverage Director of The Alida Hotel (Savannah, GA)


“I limit drinking to the weekends. And if I am at a work event during the week, I stick to wine; it’s easy to sip on slowly during conversations or meetings, and if it’s red wine, you don’t have to worry about temperature or dilution.” — Phil Testa, Beverage Manager at The Rickey (NYC)

“I’ve committed weekly to two ‘dry days’ — no booze in any form. It’s no perfect science, and I’ve been known to bend the rules, but then I’ll add another ‘dry day’ to the following week.” — Courtney Hamblin, Director of Beverage at The Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles and JW Marriott LA Live

“I substitute with smarter alternatives to cut calories. Instead of enjoying a beverage with added sugar syrups, I replace them with muddled fresh fruit or some mint.” — Nikki McCutcheon, Beverage Director at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge

“I drink to savor the beverage, not to get bombed. I eat healthy and never past 7 p.m. I also run a few times a week, sleep at least six hours a night, and, most importantly, try not to worry too much.” — Mike Tarumi, General Manager Food & Beverage, Noelle (Nashville)

“After a long holiday season, I take a few days to cleanse/balance my daily life. I cut certain things out of my diet (pasta/carbs, sweets, carbonated beverages). And I find ways to workout at home — avoiding the gym with all the New Year’s resolution makers — to re-establish my motivation and routine.”— Jeff Shull, General Manager of Baptiste & Bottle (Chicago)

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