Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Five For Fronting

Every week the WSJ has an article in their Personal Journal section called "What's Your Workout?" which details the favored method that various corporate big wigs use to stay in shape. Since today's piece was on how a guy named Christian Dwyer Stays Fit With Hockey (sub req), I skimmed it over this morning. I didn't think much more of it until JB sent me an e-mail titled "The Most Precious Hockey Player on Earth" and decided that I needed to go back for a closer look.

Mr. Dwyer, general manager and senior vice president of MapQuest in Denver, has been playing ice hockey since he was 5 years old. Now 44, he has played consistently in recreational leagues since his 20s, sometimes in three to four games a week. More than an outlet for his competitive energy, hockey is the cornerstone of Mr. Dwyer's fitness. "When time allows, I like hockey to be my primary form of exercise," he says.

When Mr. Dwyer first moved to Denver in 1993, he made friends by showing up at the ice rink for drop-in games. Mr. Dwyer, who stands 5 feet 8 inches and weighs 170 pounds, plays right wing, an offensive position. He estimates he's been playing with the same group of guys since 1993. "We're all from places like Boston or Minnesota," says the native of Syracuse, N.Y., "places where hockey was a part of growing up."

Over the years, Mr. Dwyer has sustained his share of injuries while on the ice, including a shattered front tooth, a broken nose, a spider fracture across his ankle and a scar across his eyebrow from a stick hitting just above his right eye. "Needless to say, I now wear a cage to protect my face," he says.

So far, so good. The guy grew up playing hockey, now plays as his favorite way to get exercise, and learned the hard way that while a cage might not look good, it's really not worth it to go without one. Things we can relate to.

Mr. Dwyer plays hockey two nights a week. He plays a drop-in game every Sunday night at 7 p.m., which he says is fairly selective. "You need to be a decent skater to come. If you get out onto the ice and you're not that good, you get ruled out and are asked not to come back," he says.

Okay, a possible warning sign here. Usually if you're a good hockey player you don't need to talk about it. It reminds of a guy I used to work for right out of college. After he told me that he played in a recreational hockey league, I asked if they needed any more players. "Maybe, but we wouldn't take you unless you went through a tryout. You have to be good to play on our team." About six months later, after I moved on to another job, I discovered that I was playing the same league he was. On a team that was in a tier two levels higher than his.

Mr. Dwyer is a bit of a gear obsessive, "I easily have $1,200 worth of hockey equipment alone," he admits. He estimates that his padding (knee, shin and elbow pads; gloves; pants and helmet) cost about $400. His lightweight, carbon-fiber stick cost about $150 and he goes through one stick a year. He recently purchased a pair of Graf 735 skates for $435. Mr. Dwyer spends $500 a season for his recreational hockey league and pays $10 per drop-in game.

Another warning sign. Guys who are really into their gear and talk about how much they spent on it are usually trying to compensate for something. I wouldn't be shocked to find out that he uses a stick bag. No need to elaborate on that.

Mr. Dwyer grazes throughout the day. He eats oatmeal or Greek yogurt for breakfast topped with flax seed, berries and honey. At around 10 a.m., he will eat an energy bar or a piece of fruit, like an apple or banana. For lunch, he'll have a turkey sandwich or a chopped salad with bagel chips. At 3 p.m., he has a snack of nuts or another energy bar. Mr. Dwyer says that regular snacking on healthy foods helps keep him away from the office vending machine.

Mr. Dwyer often eats dinner at the office or out at restaurants for work functions during the week. "I order fish at restaurants almost religiously," he says. "Even when I go to a steakhouse, I order grilled tuna with just lemon and salt."

I often order fish when I eat out too. But at a steakhouse? Sacrilegious. And anyone who bothers to clarify that they eat something as specific as "Greek" yogurt is definitely raising suspicions of being overly pretentious.

When out with his hockey buddies after a game, Mr. Dwyer skips the beer. "They heckle the hell out of me," he says. "I tell friends who don't work out not to drink because every glass of beer is like eating a sandwich."

Not drinking beer after a game? What's the point of playing hockey (or any kind of exercise for that matter) in the first point if not to allow you to waste empty calories on beer? While I've been known to turn down a post-game Coor's Light in the locker room, it's not because I'm worried about how eating a late-night sandwich will affect my girlish figure. It's because I'd rather wait until I get home and enjoy the two or three Summit Winter Ales that are part of my post-game wind down. The heckling that Mr. Dwyer is subject to is well-deserved and I daresay that I would join in said needling with relish if I was ever to be presented with the opportunity.