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``Atten-Hut! Owners and renters, time to get your doormen in shape. I’m talking about the ones with bellies bulging, feet dragging, always complaining about back pains, stiff shoulders, leg cramps. Not good, not when you need guys on their toes, guys who can rescue every grocery bag you’re about to drop, tuck your kid under one arm and prop open the stroller while holding onto a car door so that you can step out. Face it. Some of your doormen are flabby excuses for doormats. For your sake and theirs, this has got to change.’’
Sorry about that. I couldn’t help envisioning a drill sergeant ordering thousands of city doormen to hit the deck and give him 100 pushups, or sit-ups or some other kind of exercise, because the truth is most of us need it. Standing on our feet nonstop for hours every day takes its toll on the body, even among those wearing cushioned and comfortable shoes. The same is true of lifting everything from FedEx packages to dry cleaning. Do that often enough—even the right way, by bending the knees—and a sore back is almost guaranteed.
Now, I don’t recommend telling us to our faces that we’re developing a third chin. But if you see we’re in pain, suggesting some stretches would likely be welcomed—especially if you followed up with the exercises themselves. (Easing up on giving sweets, cakes and cookies as gifts would help, too.)
While it may not lead to losing pounds, the time-tested (by yours truly) stretching exercises I’m describing here are guaranteed to keep a doorman limber. They can be done throughout the day while on duty in the lobby or at the door. Come to think of it, you might want to try them, even if you’re a gym regular. Just remind your doorman to check with a doctor before starting any new exercise.
STRETCHING EXERCISES TO GIVE YOUR DOORMAN
- Neck and shoulders- Sitting with your back straight, place a hand on top of your head and pull slightly forward and down so that your chin comes to your chest. Hold for a count of five. Place the right hand over the top of your head so it rests flat above your left ear. Pull your head as if you want your right ear to touch your right shoulder. Hold for five seconds. Now, switch to left hand on right side of head and pull your left ear to your left shoulder. Hold for five seconds. Still sitting straight, rotate the shoulders in a circular motion. Forward 10 times, then backward 10 times.
- Calf stretch- Should help with tight calf muscles. (I’ve seen runners do something like it in front of my building as a warm up.) Facing a step or ledge (the curb can work well), extend your leg, anchoring your heel on the ground with toes against the top of the step or ledge. Keeping the leg straight, slowly lean forward and hold for a count of 12. Repeat with the other leg.
- Squats- Stronger legs, means a stronger back and a tighter butt. What more can a person want? Stand with legs apart, shoulder width, arms extended straight out in front. Slowly bend legs into a squatting position, keeping the back straight and making sure to not go down all the way. As you slowly stand back up into the starting position, tighten the glute muscles and hold for three seconds. Two sets of 10 should suffice.
- Standing twist- Doormen need to have a strong, flexible waist so that they can swivel from one task to another. Stand with your right side next to a door handle, legs together and feet facing forward. Grab the door handle with both hands and swivel your hips right, toward the door. Hold for 10 seconds and return to the starting position. Now, turn around and stand with your left side next to the handle. Swivel your hips left. Hold for 10 seconds. Do this twice a day, or before and after a full workout.
- Seated forward bend- Posture is key for a pain-free back. Here’s an exercise that can help, and all any of us needs is a lobby chair. Sitting with your back straight, extend both arms out in front. Slowly bend forward as far as you can go, as if you’re trying to touch the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Two sets of 10 seconds should help stretch out the back nicely.