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Power workouts help chef David Myers, staff in shape

February 23, 2009|Jenny Hontz

David Myers

Chef-owner of L.A. restaurants Sona and Comme Ca, and Pizzeria Ortica in O.C.

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When Myers, now 34, was a chef in New York in his 20s, he never had time to stay in shape. "I worked out not at all -- I just worked," he says.

Moving west and launching his own business didn't exactly pave the way to flat abs either. With energy and focus lagging during 14- to 16-hour shifts, Myers decided it was time to make fitness a priority. "It's a stressful business, but I like being fit so I said, 'This is nonsense. I've got to find a way.' "

Myers hired a trainer to lead Navy SEAL-style workouts at the beach for his entire staff. The program was so popular that 60 of his employees were soon crowding the beach for morning workouts. That's when Myers decided to build a private gym across the street from Sona. He tapped trainer David Paradiso to lead CrossFit workouts at the gym for his staff any time they need it.

The workouts combine weightlifting, gymnastics moves and intense aerobics with exercises such as box jumps and sprints. Employees compete with each other to complete 50 of each exercise first. "It's brutal, positively brutal," Myers says. "People throw up afterward sometimes. The workout is done in 20 minutes, and you want to die."

Myers works out three days in a row for 30 to 40 minutes, takes a day off and then starts again. He frequently skateboards between his various restaurants, surfs, snowboards, hikes and practices power yoga with Bryan Kest.

"When I work out, I'm much happier, I get more done, and I'm more pleasant to be around," Myers says. "I have more energy."

Myers typically eats fresh organic vegetables and meat and gets carbs mainly from fruit. He avoids pastas and bread and manages to maintain a weight of 165 on his 5-foot-9 frame. Most chefs, he says, have little bites of the food they cook throughout the day to check for quality and then binge late at night because they're so hungry.

"Every dish we do we taste over and over. You get sick of it," he says. "When you're in the kitchen tasting, the last thing you want is a full meal. Most chefs eat monstrous amounts at the end of the night and then pass out."

-- J.H.

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