Toronto bartender Colie Ehrenworth knows firsthand how the physical and mental demands of the job can impact daily wellness routines. She works long hours at a high-volume cocktail bar, where service can get hectic with the dual responsibility of making drinks for table service and taking orders from customers directly at the bar. Although dance has always been her passion, working in the time to attend classes after a demanding shift had often proved challenging.
“We work very late nights, and late nights don’t work well with early mornings,” says Ehrenworth. “Sleeping in becomes a tempting solution, and eating out becomes a regular habit, because making and eating meals at the appropriate times becomes much more difficult.”
But she’s investing in her own personal health and wellness goals, having been selected as one of the bartenders to participate in Bar Spar, a boxing program from the Bartender Boxing Organization sponsored by Tequila Cazadores. It teaches bartenders the basics of boxing under the guidance of professional trainers. The program culminates in the participants’ registration with USA Boxing and a sanctioned amateur fight.
Despite being a little trepidatious about joining—“I was more nervous about finding out how out of shape I had really become since transitioning to the bartending lifestyle”—she has committed to training five days a week, either at her local boxing club or in the park with one of Bar Spar’s trainers. Since joining, she has not only seen physical results but the mental benefits that boxing and regular training can bring.
“Boxing is less about the classes themselves and more about how you shape your life around the activity,” says Ehrenworth. “Not only does it change your daily routine and the way you sleep and eat, but it’s a huge mental break as well. I have had some pretty rough days in the past month, and my initial thought would be to take a day off. But then I would always remember how much better I feel not only physically but mentally after finishing a session.”
Now that she’s in her final months of training leading up to her match, Ehrenworth is even seeing how boxing can have some parallels to bartending. “When things get busy, it’s very important to work quickly and accurately, which can tend to be stressful, but it’s absolutely crucial to remain calm,” she says. “This directly relates to boxing because despite someone coming at you with a goal to knock you down, it’s so important to remain calm, keep your wits about you and continue to move on and execute your goal as efficiently as possible.”
No matter what happens during her final match, Ehrenworth knows she’ll walk away with her head held high and a new community she has built through this experience of training, working hard, challenging herself and reaching new goals. “Working with other bartenders and seeing one another’s results has been incredible,” she says. “Everyone is so supportive and encouraging, despite the fact that many of us hardly knew each other when the Bar Spar program started.”