Med school’s one thing, med school in New York city is another. Living in the busiest city in the world, while being another one of the workaholics that make up this concrete jungle, definitely presents a challenge in balancing my professional forays with staying healthy physically and mentally. Even as a fourth year medical student, the hospital hours can get long, and more often than not I find myself consumed by my responsibilities, leaving little time for maintaining the fitness level I desire. And I do put a premium on being fit; I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I’m the guy who spends his spare time in the gym or on the basketball courts behind Aron Hall (where the Sinai students live). I’ve got a full-on workout routine that I’ve pretty much maintained throughout these past 4 years—despite the fact I’m going into cardiothoracic surgery, in my non-spare time.
Prioritizing gym time has always come easy to me, I don’t know why. So that’s not really a challenge I ever had to face. But keeping my workouts fresh to motivate me to keep going after a 20 hour call to the O.R. … well, a couple years ago I hit a bit of a wall with my workout routine as the 20 hour work days left little time or energy for me to stay in shape. Coincidentally, around the same time, I was teaching part of FAMI Workshop (www.FAMIworkshop.com), which teaches functional and clinical anatomy to fitness professionals; I realized that I needed to be more open and not just accept other workout routines (like Pilates or yoga) for what I think they are, but actually start to experience them. It’s funny, my first exposure early on in med school to Pilates—via living anatome—was one of indifference. I saw the applicability of the living anatome program yet didn’t really think much more about it after leaving the class. I felt that I had been an athlete my entire life with an anatomical and physiological understanding of my workout routine, to boot; I was good to go. But when I became a teacher at the workshop, I began to give the concept a second thought, and went for a first attempt.
So I started attending weekly Pilates sessions with Diane (a fantastic teacher at Kinected, a Pilates studio in Chelsea; www.KinectedCenter.com), who began to instruct me on the ins-and-outs of Pilates. Each routine was specifically tailored to all the bumps, bruises, and tears I have had in my life. I began to look more and more forward to each week’s workout and began to apply the skills I learned to my own gym sessions. Who would’ve thought?! I even began to feel my knowledge of the human body blend more with the strategies devised during my Pilates sessions. Several months later, the experience is still amazing, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to infuse a bit of energy and novel ideas into their workouts. Gotta kick it up a bit, because the humdrum of a 20-hour day can easily permeate the rest of your life.
So, for me, in my quest to stay healthy during med school, my big take-away is that, regardless of the daily grind that may be my life, being open to new workout ideas is an important way to keep your energy level high and your body in shape. Both good things, on the wards and in the rest of life, too.
Aaron Weiss recently finished his MS4 year at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; in the next couple of weeks, he will start his surgery residency at the Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, specializing in cardiothoracic surgery.