Look, it’s not breaking news that working as a physical trainer or fitness instructor makes you fit. Duh. In that line, it’s an essential job requirement: “People will always judge you on your appearance,” says certified personal trainer Joshua Margolis, of Mind Over Matter Health.
Additional no-brainers in this “fit jobs” category include dancers and athletes. Any active job requiring moving all day, like bike messengers, farmers, construction workers, and landscapers also come to mind. But for this slideshow, we went beyond the most obvious to find some of the less commonly cited occupations in the category—including one we can practically guarantee you didn’t know was a legitimate job.
By Colleen Kane
Posted June 16, 2011
“I worked 2-3 times a week for anywhere from 4-10 hours a day and lost about 33 pounds in 2 months,” said Ron Tompson, who worked as a mover in New York City while hunting for work in another field. “We were moving people in and out of small apartments, often in walk-ups of 3, 4, or 5 flights up, which is an incredible amount of work and exercise.” In addition to the weight loss, Tompson says the lifting toned his arms and legs, though it also put strain on his back.
And although Itamar Kestenbaum of FlatRate Moving works a desk job, “I've been in the moving industry for 3 years. Many a mover at FlatRate comes around the office, and most of them are extremely muscular. Over time you really see a change!”
The flight attendant lifestyle seems to be the polar opposite of the dreaded desk job. “Being a flight attendant keeps you fit! Not only did it used to be a requirement to stay within a weight limit (I had to weigh in monthly when I was new) but it’s so physically demanding moving the carts, etc. that you naturally stay fit,” says Carolyn Paddock of the In-Flight insider luxury travel website.
“I have spent more than 20,000 hours in the air, and racked up 10 million miles around the world flying in the last 22 years, both in commercial and private aviation, and I was moving 95% of the time. Not only that- once we land, usually abroad, I'm out the door touring and exploring—again moving. Then bringing back my various groceries and shopping is more exercise to carry my luggage and bags.”
And although flight attendants can make excuses not to exercise as well as anyone else, flight attendant Amanda Pleva says, “constant availability of hotel gyms is great. When away from home, the ‘I was too busy’ excuse can rarely apply.”
But for those who aren’t careful, this is one active job that can still have the opposite effect of fitness, Pleva is quick to point out. “Hotel and airport food will kill you.” Flight attendant can experience pitfalls leading to their version of the Freshman 15 (http://www.freshman15.com/): eating out all the time, drinking (a lot), not packing their own food, and consequently eating poorly on overnights. “I gained about 20 pounds my second year on the job,” says Pleva, but she has since developed the habit of packing food and resistance bands.
Floral designers are extraordinarily fit, says Rebekah Rombom of the H.Bloom floral subscription service. “They're on their feet in our studio throughout the day, creating small and large arrangements.
“The job can be a legitimate upper body workout,” she continues. “On days when they're on-site creating floral installations at hotels and restaurants, the work includes climbing ladders, hanging massive wreaths, and lifting vases. It's creative and rewarding work that keeps you in great shape.”
Treadmill Test Walkers
Believe it or not, fitness equipment manufacturer Life Fitness employs full-time, professional treadmill walkers. The position is actually called "Key Operator" and their job is to test the equipment.
They walk an average of 150 minutes per day for 247 working days, which translates to 37,050 minutes of treadmill time a year. With an average speed of 2 MPH, that works out to be 1,235 miles walked yearly.
They're testing the voltage, for current leakage, and adjusting rollers and belts, all while the machine is running. They also handle assembling the machine, troubleshooting, and some packing, after the tests.
At the company’s Franklin Park, Illinois headquarters there are two full-time testers on the cross-trainer line and four on the treadmill line, running all day, with testers in other locations.
So, are these key operators totally ripped? "Heck yes," says Christopher Clawson, president of Life Fitness—especially on the elliptical line. “They're very trim, strong, and still very active in athletics at an older age.”
Husband-and-wife photography team Bob and Priscilla Rathbone of Rathbone Images call themselves very active wedding photographers. “That is—anything to get the shot,” says Priscilla. “With all the walking, squatting and carrying of heavy equipment, I get quite a workout. Every wedding season, I drop a couple dress sizes and feel great!”
Equipment weighing 15-20 pounds, and 6-8 hour active workdays result in an overall body change—“My clothes fit better, my legs get a lot stronger, I have more stamina and more definition in my arms and back,” Priscilla says. “To keep up the gains during the winter season, I definitely need to work out more. It is a cycle because if I don't keep up on my workouts, the first few big weddings of the season can really wipe me out.”
Healthy Lifestyle Industry
The other jobs on this list are all testament to a very simple fitness and weight loss principle: move around all day, and you will stay in shape. But this category of jobs takes into account practicing what you preach, the power of corporate culture, and probably some positive peer pressure as well.
Mary Barbour of Mind Body Wellness Group worked as an RN and dietician for 4 years and she puts it, “I started eating better, working out more, growing my own food and became a chef.”
The well-being company Healthways features Workout Wednesdays, where employees are encouraged to wear workout clothes to work, and provides treadmills, bike racks, onsite fitness classes, running, biking and stairwell climbing groups, and on site massages.
Alex Marinov, co-founder of the Tennis Round playing partner-matching website, testifies: “I’ve shed 20 pounds since we launched the site 6 months ago. I was 190 and now I’m 170.” Alex accepts a lot of invitations to tennis due to being involved with the service.
Melissa McNeese, working for Fit PR promoting fitness DVDs says she's more fit because of the material she works with daily. Even working at a women's fitness apparel company leads to employee fitness, or so says Kristin Bradley. “Each woman that works at 4all by jofit [women’s sportswear company] embraces a healthy lifestyle with lots of exercise in the gym and on the court and course.” Tawnee Madlen of PlanetGear had a similar experience. “I have a desk job doing PR. However, the company I work for sells outdoor gear, and in order to fit in, I have been very motivated to work out. Also, we were asked to take photos hiking, biking, et cetera for our Facebook [profile] and that has made skateboarding my new hobby. Now, I force my husband every day to skate with me. Very fun culture at my company.”
Rosie Enos is a dog sled tour guide during the winter months at Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, and during the summer, she is a backpacking guide for Roam the Woods, a women’s backpacking company. “The great thing? I never have to squeeze in a workout at the end of a long day.”
The winter job results in upper body strength. “You are working with Alaskan Huskies that are up to 50 pounds of pure muscle, that are super excited to go for a run, your lifting them, loading them, and trying to hold them back (twelve of them—all attached to one sled!!) Your whole body gets a workout.”
Her summer job reverses the strength to her lower section. “I do lose some of that upper body strength because you are using your legs as the powerhouse while backpacking. All that I lose in my upper body I gain back in my legs!”
This fitness and work regime doesn’t mean she’s 100% muscle. “Typically, during the winter I'm not afraid to embrace some fat. On top of all the hard work, it can get cold so some butter in my diet is a lifesaver on the single digit days. As for the summer, backpackers burn between 4,000 - 8,000 calories a day. “During the summer, I eat fairly good on the trail as we use lots of dehydrated veggies in our meals, the best thing on the trail though: Snickers!! In town requirement: a stop at an all-you-can-eat buffet.”
When J.J. Kunkle of The Fit Life worked at the Santa Barbara Adventure Company, she says, “our guides were in top shape. When you spend the day leading kayaking, hiking and biking trips—there's no way you can NOT be fit. Even as the office manager I stayed in great shape helping them load and unload kayaks, wash wetsuits and occasionally guiding trips.”
The fitness benefits of the guide occupation extend into the off-season, says Jo Ann Taylor of WalkTalk, because “when you are not traveling you are very motivated to get fit for your next tour."
Childcare / Teacher
With any job that entails involving running around after groups of children, you will probably not have a problem keeping fit, but that’s especially true when you’re teaching the children about exercise and sports.
Len Saunders has been a physical education teacher for 30 years. “I am constantly moving, chasing, running, demonstrating, and energized all day. I teach elementary school physical education, and being around the 3-11 year olds all day also keeps me young. Now that I have turned 50, I feel fresh and healthy working with these children all day.”
Making the magic happen in Hollywood requires making physical motion happen—at least in some film crew jobs, like grips and personal assistants.
This active on-set workday extends to the craft services, says Cyndi Finkle, who worked the job for eight years and says she was in the best shape of her life. “We feed crews that work on television shows, providing them with snacks (not the meals) throughout the day. We are known for our high end and healthy options (homemade soup, edamame, steamed vegetables, quesadillas, and smoothies. The hours are long and there is a lot of loading and unloading, lifting, running all over set, and basically cooking for people all day. It is fun and rewarding and a good workout.” Even though Finkle has moved on up, she misses the days of hustling. “ As my company grew and I moved to the running of the business, I had to join a gym to keep up the fitness level of not being on set every day.”
If you overlook the unpleasant bits we shall not name, this often self-employed occupation involves essentially getting paid to walk, so it provides all the benefits of walking, plus the dogs work out arm muscles, too.
Mike Werch of Indeed.com remarked on the occupation, “They spend a considerable amount of time walking each day. Even if you’re a bad dog walker and you spend that time getting pulled behind a dog, probably burns more calories and is a good shoulder workout.”