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Posted: January 16, 2014

Chef Laura: The corporate athlete

Part One: It's go time!

Laura Cook Newman

If you’ve stuck with your New Year’s resolution so far, then give yourself a pat on the back.  It only takes 21 days to make a habit stick; you’re almost there!  Sadly, the majority of us won’t last three weeks.  Of the 45 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent of them will actually see those dreams come to fruition.

What’s the number one resolution for 2014

  1. Save more money
  2. Spend more quality time with family
  3. Fall in love
  4. Lose weight

A, B, and C made the Top 10, but the reigning resolution is (no surprise) to drop some “el-bees”. 

Although ColoradoBiz magazine strives to nourish your fiscal health more than your physical health, being fit has a direct correlation to your success in business.  I’m not saying you need to have the VO2 max of Shani Davis, but a new year begs the question: “Am I living to my full potential?”

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight does wonders for the entire being. Healthier employees are more engaged, higher performing, goal-oriented and focused.  Someone who can set a fitness goal and succeed can surely crush that Annual Operating Plan. 

For me, losing weight and my career as a traveling chef don’t exactly mesh.  But like many Americans, I’ve resolved to get leaner this year.  If I want entry to that successful 8 percent club, I’m going to need a plan.  Otherwise, “Fail to plan, plan to fail."

My fellow road warriors know how challenging it is to stay healthy on business trips.  The Temptations are everywhere.  Is it just my imagination or do I turn into a “typing-emails-in-bed-while-drinking-wine-and-watching-Pawn Stars” sloth, as soon as I check into my room?

I ain’t too proud to beg, so I asked my girl Kris Briganti, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor, how I can be active, even when there’s a perfectly good Storage Wars marathon on A&E.  Motivation and time while jet-setting are scarce indeedy.

She said it wasn’t just how long I exercised, but the way you do the things you do.    Then Kris said “I’m gonna tell you about Tabata – Get ready!

“Ciabatta?  Yes, it’s delicious,” I said longingly.

“No, Ta-bata.  High Intensity Interval Training.”

“Wait a sec,” I protested.  “I have like 30 minutes tops to exercise in the morning.”  Plus some of these hotel gyms have a NordicTrak circa 1988, one dusty 50-pound kettlebell, and – hold on!- is that Izzy Mandlebaum bench pressing a television?

It’s go time…as in go back to my room and hit the snooze bar.

Kris went on to explain that Tabata workouts can easily be done in the privacy of your hotel room, last 16-20 minutes and don’t require any fancy equipment.  The added bonus is that your muscles will enjoy the benefits of anaerobic HIIT days after a session.  In other words, Tabata is the cheap, quick and sweaty fitness gift that keeps giving.

And…there’s even an app for that! 

“Sweet!  What about days when I want to blow off steam after work?” I asked.  “Hit the lobby bar, right?”

Knowing my inclination to bust-a-move, Kris recommended logging onto to find a local class.  Just type in the zip code and you’ll be salsa-ing by 6 p.m., no chips or margaritas necessary.

“Or if you’re a member of a chain gym like 24-Hour Fitness, they’ll honor your membership anywhere.  And they offer some fun Group X classes like Boot Camps, Yoga, and Les Mills courses™.”

I was starting to see that this could actually work.  I don’t have to suffer alone on some rickety old treadmill just because I’m traveling.  I’ve got options.

“Finally,” Kris concluded, “I never go anywhere without my Bender Ball.” 

Clearly a man was not on the naming-committee of this volleyball-sized device.  The small green sphere inflates as easily as blowing up a balloon, so it’s convenient to pack in your carry-on. 

At less than $10, this magical globe supports your back during crunches, squats and planks – all activities you can easily do in your hotel room.  And it makes a great make-shift ThighMaster; sorry, Suzanne Somers.

The good news is that instead of aimlessly riding a stationary bike for hours on end, I’ve got a plan to keep motivated and active on a tight schedule:

  1. Tabata
  2. Go to local group exercise classes
  3. Pack my Bender Ball

The bad news is that I can’t shed pounds with just exercise.  Next week, we’ll look at the food part of the equation.  Despite one of my favorite cautionary quotes “Never trust a skinny chef”, my bathroom scale indicates you can trust my advice now

But in a couple of months you probably shouldn’t. It’s go time!

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at

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Readers Respond

werq! By Ta Tee on 2014 01 30
RC, ask for a ground floor. Then burpee to your heart's content. HarleyMom, congrats on the new loves in your life. Sounds like adopting a dog(s) takes care of resolutions B, C, and D. Well done. By Chef Laura on 2014 01 21
I've always been a bit concerned about doing a workout in my room as jumping rope, burpees, running in place, etc. seem to be really loud for the poor schmuck below me. Thoughts....... By RC on 2014 01 16
Bender Ball makes me think of Bender on Futurama, and lifting a weight that looks like a metal trash talking drunken robot. By Matt Groening on 2014 01 16
I loved the corporate athlete training and will always remember to refresh. I am now a highly motivated dog walker having just adopted two street dogs from the humane society. I love the exercise and meet new people everyday, totally rewarding but the pay is awful. I am in love, resolution C. Happy New Year, late. By HarleyMom on 2014 01 16
"Get Ready" "My Girl" I'm sure you know that "Beauty is Only Skin Deep." If you meet your goals you'll be on "Cloud Nine" but if you fail "I Wish it Would Rain." "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" By Eddie Kendricks on 2014 01 16
Staying active on the road really does help you feel better and maintain productivity. I've noticed a big difference when doing that vs. being a sloth in the hotel room and binge watching tv. Save that for when you're at home with a loved one and knock "C" off your list for this year. Now you're multi-tasking. By Ted on 2014 01 16
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