After months of driving a truck, Doug Robinson began to notice that his clothes were getting tighter. Although he was previously overweight, he began to realize that spending as much as 11 hours driving his truck, not exercising and eating fast food frequently was not a good combination.
U.S. Xpress, his employer, participated in a weight-loss challenge which was sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association and Robinson decided that it was time to do something about his 321-pound frame and signed up for the challenge.
Up to this point, he is approximately 60 pounds away from his goal of losing 100 pounds. The refrigerator in his truck is stocked with vegetables, tuna and chicken and after carrying out the duties of his job, he either walks on the trails close to the rest stops or he walks in circles around his truck.
Robinson suffers from asthma and he is aware that the excess weight is bad for him. According to the 6 foot, 1 inch 30-year-old Philadelphian, as soon as he began to lose weight he immediately started getting a better sleep at nights.
From companies that offer CDL jobs embracing weight-loss and wellness programs to the installation of gyms at truck stops, there has been a in recent years to assist individuals who earn their living doing CDL jobs in getting into shape and improving their health.
Boyd Stephenson, who is the Director of HazMat Policy at the American Trucking Association, the largest trucking association in the industry, has stated that a number of companies that offer CDL jobs have begun to recognize that the truck drivers are in fact their best assets. He also pointed out that the bottom line of the company can benefit from healthier employees.
Additional incentives are there for truckers to get into shape and stay healthy; their CDL jobs could be dependent on their health.
A requirement of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has stipulated that truck drivers must pass a physical exam, every two years. The drivers are checked for conditions which might contribute to them becoming gradually or suddenly incapacitated while carrying out their CDL jobs. These conditions include respiratory disorders, high blood pressure and severe heart conditions.
Despite the fact that there is no weight restriction, individuals doing CDL jobs who have a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and they are not undergoing any treatment will not receive a medical certificate. This condition, which is more popular among overweight individuals, results in daytime sleepiness and that could prove dangerous on long drives.
However, obstacles are there for individuals with trucking jobs who are aware of the need to be healthy. Other than being seated for several hours at a time, their eating options are typically limited to places that have parking lots that are big enough to provide accommodation for their tractor-trailers and these usually are truck stops, which are not historically known to have workout equipment or wholesome food. However, this is one of the things that the truck stop chains have been making attempts to change.
Two years ago, TravelCenters of America launched the StayFit program which includes setting up small gyms with free membership in the truck stops and offering half portions and healthier food options, building basketball courts at some of the locations an mapping walking routes close to the truck stops.
A spokesman of the TravelCenters has stated that this effort was put forth as a means of removing a lot of the barriers that stood in the way of the health of individuals with CDL jobs. He has also stated that the company has set up gyms in 42 of its locations and they plan to have all of their over 240 locations outfitted with gyms by the end of 2013. There has been evidence supporting that the gyms have been used in excess of 30,000 times.
Snap Fitness, a gym franchiser, has formed a partnership with Rolling Strong to provide wellness programs that are aimed at individuals who hold CDL jobs, to set up gyms at the Pilot Flying J locations. Opened in June in the south of Dallas, the first one is almost 1,000-square-foot and is in a stand-alone building that is filled with several machines and weights. So far, over 120 memberships have been bough for the gym.
In addition, a $30 monthly membership provides individuals who have CDL jobs with access to over 1,300 gyms under the Snap Fitness name and these locations have parking areas that are tractor trailer-friendly.
Pilot Flying J has plans to include a function on their smartphone app to assist truckers in identifying healthy food choices at fast food restaurants as well as their locations. It should be noted that a number of truck stops have adjusted their recipes to include healthier offering and provide oatmeal as a breakfast choice.
It has been highlighted by president of Rolling Strong, Bob Perry, that workers who have CDL jobs have been flocking to wellness screenings which his company has set up at truck stops all over the country.
Robinson, the trucker who is trying to lose weight, has stated that prior to becoming a part of the weight-loss challenge, he spent his evenings on the road talking on the telephone, checking Facebook and watching television. He was initially concerned about how he would be able to exercise; however, he decided that he has to develop the will power and get it done.
In 2011, over 11,500 of the 21,000 individuals with CDL jobs had consultations with wellness coaches; most of these employees were drivers.
There are eleven carriers that took part in the first Trucking’s Weight Loss Showdown put on by the Truckload Carriers Association in the spring of 2012. Each carrier signed up 12 of their employees which included 6 office staff and 6 drivers. There will be a second showdown in the fall and the individual winner will receive $2,500, the same amount that was won by the spring winner.