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Five-plus miles per shift: Here’s how serving is a workout

Ar 160809605
Illustration by David Holub/DGO
Ar 160809605
Illustration by David Holub/DGO

I’ve always been a sucker for killing two birds with one stone. I do calf-raises while I brush my teeth, listen to audiobooks while cleaning the house and watch “Orange is the New Black” (or my latest Netflix indulgence) while I’m on the elliptical. It would only make sense that my job supports this habit. What I really appreciate about being a waitress is the fact that I get in a six-hour, low-impact workout while making money.

When I first started serving I didn’t understand why I was so tired. Sure I was working hard, but I didn’t take into account the actual mileage I was putting in every night at the restaurant. Out of curiosity I started wearing a pedometer to work and was surprised by the outcome. In six shifts, approximately 33 restaurant hours, I had walked just over 27 miles, which averages out to about 5.4 miles a day!

Already having somewhat of an interest in fitness, I decided to figure out how many calories I was burning an hour, a shift, a week, etc. An average person weighing 150 pounds burns about 100 calories per mile. This works out to burning about 600 calories a shift and 3,600 calories per week, from the walking alone. Of course the weekly mileage will vary depending on how busy the server is, how big the restaurant is and how many times you forget to bring a side of [fill in the blank] to your customer (guilty).

Now it’s time to incorporate the lifting, the tray holding and the cleaning that is done on a nightly basis. The set up includes refilling butter containers, stocking to-go boxes, wiping down booths and chairs, polishing silver, folding napkins and putting dishes away. These simple tasks take about 45 minutes to complete and in my mind are considered the “warm up” of the workout. My muscles have been gently woken and are gearing up for what’s to come.

The next four hours consist of introductions, cutting bread, ringing in food, dropping off food, SMILING, refilling beverages, clearing dirty dishes, getting a side of ranch, getting a side of ranch, and getting another side of ranch. I like to think of this as the bulk of the workout. And if I’m really busy, or when it’s nearly 100 degrees outside and the air-conditioning unit is broken, I even break a lady-like sweat, liquid proof that my body is at work.

By 9 o’clock things begin to wind down. This is when the kitchen, waitstaff, dishwashers, bussers and bartenders all put in the extra effort that they didn’t think they had. CLOSING TIME, aka the “cool down.” At this point in the night, I will make sure my section of the restaurant is clear and that tables have been wiped and re-set. The final feat is disassembling the “best salad bar” in Durango.

The first step is removing all 33 containers from the salad bar so they can be refrigerated. Next, the kale is removed, and finally the ice. After dumping the ice in the garbage, the salad bar gets a quick wash and wipe down and that does it. Again, not a difficult task, but it incorporates walking, squatting and lifting. I’ll consider it strength training ... hopefully Jillian Michaels would approve.

Still think this is crazy? I get it, waiting tables is no Ironman Triathlon. But it is a job that allows me the satisfaction of feeling exhausted and ready for a dark beer and some REM cycles when I get home. At the end of the night I can lie in bed, think about my day and safely say that though I didn’t get my normal cardio/ weight training workout in at the Rec Center, I still exercised. Cheers to doing it all over again tomorrow.

Taylor Ferraro provides five-star service and entertainment at the Red Snapper. She is also a massage therapist and KDUR DJ. Contact her at tferr8@hotmail.com.