Lose, don't excuse

| September 02, 2008

September Health Hero: Joe Martin

Joe Martin is trucker with a mission: He wants to convert sedentary drivers into active, healthy, fit ones. For the last 20 years, he’s practiced what he preaches, eating healthy food and exercising every day. The FedEx Freight driver from Porter, Texas, says he’s in just as good shape at age 64 as many much younger drivers who don’t take care of their bodies. The common excuse – “I can’t work out because I’m stuck in the truck” – doesn’t hold water for Martin. He always found ways to incorporate a fitness routine into his trucking life. In fact, he’s done most of his exercises in the comfort of his own truck.

“Over the years, the cabs became more exercise friendly, especially the air-ride seat and steering wheel with all the adjustment options,” he says. “It made it much easier to do the exercises in the cab.” He devised a 35-minute in-cab routine that worked all the major muscle groups and got his heart rate up. When he’d try to get other truckers to follow suit, he says he’d hear the same excuses over and over. Finally, he invested his time and money into producing an instructional video. He dubbed it “Truckercise” and is selling it online and in some truckstops.

The 200-pound trucker has been driving for 47 years and says he was just like everyone else in the beginning. “I’d just sit around, eating junk, trying to fill the boredom,” he says. But after seeing his weight begin to creep up, he decided a healthy lifestyle was the way to go. He’s maintained the same weight ever since, but more importantly, he says he feels more alert and strong than when he was younger. “I handle stress better and feel better overall,” he says. When he’s not working out, Martin enjoys riding his motorcycle, working in the yard and spending time with his family.

Personal: Martin and his wife, Carol, have five children and two grandchildren.

What’s your favorite motto? “Hey drivers, did you ‘Truckercise’ today?” In the beginning, nobody knew what I was talking about, but the word is getting out and I’ve got a lot more truckers asking me for help.

What’s your advice to a trucker just getting started on an exercise routine? Start small, do a little bit at a time and gradually work your way up. Don’t get overtired, or you’ll get discouraged.

What’s the biggest challenge truckers face in the fitness quest? They have to change their thinking and their way of life. It’s hard out there, and adding exercise instead of sitting back and watching a movie can seem like a hard thing to do. But eventually it becomes a part of your life that you enjoy.

What’s been your biggest health challenge? Three years ago I quit smoking, cold turkey, after smoking for 50 years. I didn’t gain any weight and haven’t had one cigarette since I quit. I’ll never go back, either. I credit it to strong willpower and being in good shape.

How do you handle food choices on the road? I eat a lot of lean meat, like turkey, and snack on cut-up veggies, like celery and carrots. I don’t deprive myself of the occasional treat, but I have to use my willpower to limit them.

What’s your regular exercise routine? I do the Truckercise program twice a day and fill in with brisk walking when I can. I use a 10-pound dumbbell but recommend you start off with lighter weights and work up.

To order your copy of Truckercise, visit www.truckercise.net.

Nominate Health Heroes
Do you know any truckers who have worked hard to become more healthy? Maybe they’ve quit smoking, started an exercise program, controlled their sleep apnea or changed their eating habits. E-mail cmagner@rrpub.com or send to Truckers News Fit for the Road, 3200 Rice Mine Rd. NE, Tuscaloosa, AL 35406.

Health Question of the Month:
I am a 32-year-old trucker who is in fairly good health. I have a family history of diabetes and am concerned about my belly fat. It’s out of proportion to the rest of my body, and my doctor says it’s got to go. Why is he so concerned, and what can I do to reduce belly fat?
- Patrick from Nashville, Tenn.

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