Staying fit in dentistry
Have you ever stepped foot in a gym in January? You might as well go back home and sit on your couch and you’ll burn just as many calories as you will waiting for a machine. Any regular gym goer hates “resolutioners”. Innocent people are starting the year off by attempting to get healthy while “gym elitists” condone this behavior on social media.
January in my CrossFit gym is a bit different. We get excited for new members to join in on the tortuous WODs (Workout of the Day). We encourage all of our non-CrossFit friends to join the “cult” and get in really good shape. It’s a community atmosphere that cultivates friendships, love-hate relationships with a barbell, and sometimes two crazy people might meet mid-WOD and fall in love.
With all the benefits exercising can provide to dentists, it seems like a no brainer to hop on the bandwagon and join a gym. Unfortunately many new dentists I know are working multiple jobs to pay back their student loans and often work odd hours. One piece of advice: A community of people will keep you in check and keep you active.
I started CrossFit at Imperium CrossFit in June 2012, shortly after completing my first year of dental school. I, too, was annoyed by all the CrossFit posts on Facebook, but was bored with my usual running and Globo-gym routine. This particular CrossFit gym was a 30-45 minute drive in heavy Houston traffic in late afternoon. The drive I didn’t mind since I usually needed that time to decompress from the craziness of dental school. The workouts were tough, but the community at Imperium is why I tortured myself nearly every day. Day after day, I would take a study break to not only workout but to engage in conversation with people from all different professions. It was and will always be my break from dental talk. I always knew I would fail at dental school if I didn’t have a way to escape the stress. There’s no better way to escape life’s stresses than throwing heavy stuff in the air.
A dental school professor spoke at a recent study club I attended. The topic was “Fitness in Dentistry.” Dr. Ralph Cooley explained that staying active and fit will help the longevity of your career. Despite the bad name CrossFit gets by haters, a good coach and a good gym will not let you get injured. I’m very careful with knowing my limits when I’m lifting weights thanks to Coach Tony Orozco. For one, overhead squats put a lot of pressure on my wrists. This is an obvious concern for anybody who works with his or her hands. All the coaches at Imperium make me scale down any weight that will negatively affect my career. However, some lifts (when done correctly) are beneficial to building a strong back necessary to hold good ergonomics during dental procedures.
So how do I balance work and staying active? I manage my time and my workout schedule by waking up at 4:45 a.m. most days of the week to make it to CrossFit or Yoga before work. If I’m training for a half marathon, I plan my day so that I get my runs in before dinner or in the morning. I’ve been known to carry a planner around that lists the exact time I plan on doing whatever physical activity I plan to do for the day.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to anybody interested in starting some type of workout routine this month, on top of the sometimes-demanding lifestyle of dentistry, is to not do it alone. And who knows, three and a half years later you may find yourself sitting in a house writing an ADA blog post next to your fiancé you met at CrossFit.
Dr. Katie Sowa is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. She grew up in Houston and recently graduated from The University of Texas School of Dentistry in 2015. Katie is a general dentist in a large group practice in Katy, Texas (a quick 25 minute commute from Houston). When she’s not working or staying involved with the Greater Houston Dental Society and the Texas Dental Association, she’s usually posting pictures of her miniature Australian shepherd puppy or her CrossFit workouts.