Behind the Bar To Your Health

Boxing Inspired This Chicago Bartender to Get Serious About His Health

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Jason Lane

A lot of health initiatives and wellness plans emphasize how easy it can be to build a more balanced lifestyle. Bar Spar isn’t one of them, as Jason Lane (the food and beverage general manager at About Last Knife [ALK] at Hotel Julian in Chicago) discovered by the end of his first day of training.

“I figured my lifestyle would change,” says Lane. “I didn’t expect the motivation to change would hit me so quickly. After day one, it has been a complete turnaround. I’m attending every class and consistently monitoring my progress—tracking my weight, body fat percentage and BMI.”

Bar Spar, the boxing program from the Bartender Boxing Organization and sponsored by Tequila Cazadores, doesn’t require this level of rigor. But it does equip bartenders with the tools to become the best boxers they can be, which usually means getting into the best shape of their lives.

Lane has been training with a professional boxing coach three times a week in the lead-up to his match with another Chicago bartender on November 4. He was also given a personalized meal plan to help him get into fighting shape. This kind of personalized treatment would typically be prohibitively expensive, but Tequila Cazadores is covering the costs and providing the equipment for Bar Spar as part of Cazadores’ effort to improve health in the hospitality industry.

The bold tequila got behind Bar Spar because boxing is particularly effective at encouraging habits that last. Anyone who volunteers to take a punch has already shown a serious commitment to the program.

Lalo Beas, Lane’s professional boxing trainer, can articulate what makes boxing different. “Anyone can say they play basketball on the weekends or they’re in a softball league,” he says. “Boxing is a way of life. It’s constantly monitoring your body to maintain the best physical shape possible. Once you step into the ring for a sanctioned bout and get punched in the face, you’re a real boxer.”

Lane is a perfect case study in how quickly boxing can become a way of life. Lacing up the gloves has dramatically changed his lifestyle in ways he didn’t anticipate.

“I hadn’t stepped foot inside a gym in more than 10 years. Boxing has been a complete 180 for me. I’ve stopped drinking beer. I don’t drink the night before a workout. Now, I’m consciously watching what I eat and taking supplements to speed up muscle recovery. On my off days, I’m working out around the house doing pushups, crunches, pullups and planks.”

Participating in Bar Spar is a major commitment, but it hasn’t distracted Lane from his professional responsibilities. If anything, it has given him more energy to meet the physical demands of the job. He’s even finding that there’s some overlap between his approach to boxing and bartending.

“In the ring, I’m concentrating on being quick and accurate, making sure that every move serves a purpose and that I don’t exert too much wasted energy. That’s how I am behind the bar at ALK, too—no wasted motion and having our mise en place exactly the same every day.”

That strategy will be tested at the Chicago Bar Spar event on November 4. Considering how much time he has dedicated to training, it’s no surprise Lane is feeling good about his chances.

“It won’t be long before I’m half-naked in front of all my friends in a boxing ring,” he says. “I expect to put in more work than the other guy and come out a winner.”