How and why to fit in exercise while brewing
Brew day is quite the workout. Incorporating some intentional exercise into the day could not only help earn some extra beer calories, it could also give you a longer and safer homebrewing career. Let’s be honest, for most of us, there is a lot of downtime during a typical brew day. Why not take advantage of this for your mental and physical well-being?
“You want to continue to do your hobby for as long as possible,” says Chris Gagliardi. He is a Medical Exercise Specialist, Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Health Coach certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “It doesn’t require you to put on running shoes and athletic shorts,” Gagliardi says. Wear whatever you’d normally wear to brew.
Your exercise might depend on where you brew. For example, Gagliardi notes that exercises like leg raises and countertop pushups can be done by holding yourself on the inside corner of a kitchen counter. A portable table in your garage might not hold your weight but maybe a keg will. Gagliardi says you will not need additional weights. Use your body weight, brewing equipment like empty kettles, kegs, bags of grains, or any other items you might have in your brewing space. Of course, do not use hot or breakable equipment.
Gagliardi recommends a warmup, a slightly more difficult active workout, and cool down/stretching. Mimic the movement you are doing while you brew, like bending, pulling, and lifting. For the warmup, you can use your body weight. If you want weight, lift something light like a small empty kettle or a bag of grains while the strike water heats up.
Once you’ve started moving, do a few sets of harder exercises. Carry over exercises from the warmup. For example, if your warmup included lunges without weight, you can do the same move while holding a bag of grains. What about adding a pull-up bar nearby your brewing space? Gagliardi says you might decide, “I’m going to do ten burpees and then I will need to check my water temperature.” This may actually mentally speed up your brew day in the end.
If you don’t exercise regularly, Gagliardi recommends starting with your own body weight. Try ten reps of an exercise. If it’s too hard, reduce it to eight. If you’d like more challenge, add weight. When adding weight, make sure you can do the exercise with good form ten times in a row.
“Pay attention to your body,” Gagliardi says. If there are areas that are normally sore when you’re done with brew day, choose exercises to strengthen those areas. If you don’t know what kind of exercises to do, Gagliardi recommends the ACE exercise library, available at https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library.
Include some stretching in your cool down. Hip flexors are a common problem area and can lead to lower-back pain. Exercises for the hips include lunges and standing on one leg while holding the opposite foot behind you to stretch the hamstring.
Here’s the rub: Gagliardi recommends that brewers do not drink alcohol during the workout for safety reasons. While some may bemoan this fact, the reality is that you really shouldn’t be drinking while brewing in the first place. Handling boiling hot liquids while under the influence is not a good recipe. The good news is you’re in charge of the workout. It can be as long as you want it to be. After that, relax and have a homebrew.