Fitness Pays Off, Some Chefs Discover

Most of my readers probably won’t have access to today’s print edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, featuring my interview in the Sunday Food/Lifestyle section

In conjunction with the 2009 Pittsburgh Marathon, the Post-Gazette’s China Millman recently asked me if chefs in the restaurant business exercise and if they care about staying fit. I told her that people who have physically demanding jobs need to exercise just like everyone else and a lot of my friends in the restaurant business are curious about yoga and how it could potentially help them to withstand the grueling hours in the kitchen.

“Chefs aren’t known for their svelte physiques. The stereotypical chef tastes food all day then stays out late eating and drinking. [And] hitting the gym isn’t a top priority. Although cooking professionally can be physically arduous, it involves activities that mostly leave them exhausted without helping them manage their weight or get in shape.”

“Stand for eight hours on a cement or tile floor and see how well your back holds up. Add some deep knee bends as you’re taking heavy pans in and out of the oven (also great for the back), repetitive motion injuries from cutting up meat, fish and vegetables for hours at a time and the occasional burn or cut.”

Several Pittsburgh chefs told Millman about their running routines, yet my unique take on how to stay fit and healthy as a (skinny) chef concluded the lifestyle article in May 3rd’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Interview with Jennifer Iserloh in Pittsburgh Post GazetteWhile running is one way to stay fit, Jennifer Iserloh, known as “skinny chef,” says yoga and cooking are an ideal match. Ms. Iserloh was raised in Pittsburgh by her grandmother, who was a wonderful cook. Everyone in her family loved to eat, and everyone ate too much. She struggled with her weight into her 20s, until she decided to change careers and become a chef.

Today Ms. Iserloh is a personal chef and media consultant. She worked as the recipe developer for Joy Bauer’s cookbook “Food Cures” and Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook “Deceptively Delicious.” She’s also a frequent contributor to Self magazine.

On her Web site,, she writes about how to eat well without overdoing it, as well as ways to increase healthful habits like exercise. She recently became a certified yoga instructor.

“What I like about yoga is it’s able to combat some of the joint and muscle issues [chefs] have” from standing for long periods and engaging in repetitive, stressful movements such as filleting fish or flipping vegetables in a saute pan for hours, she said. Ms. Iserloh has even designed a yoga routine for chefs that she teaches to friends in the restaurant community.

Getting chefs to do yoga can be like getting football players to take ballet classes. Everyone’s heard it’s a great idea, but somehow they can’t get past the tights – or in this case, the back bends.

Excerpted from the online edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
May 3, 2009 | Read the full article »

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