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John Drury moves to the music and motivates other drivers to follow his steps for fitness

By on September 1, 2015

With his tattooed biceps and towering presence (he’s 6’7”), truck driver John Drury may seem intimidating at first. But then he starts shaking his hips to a Lady Gaga song, and soon he’s got a crowd joining in.

He’s known as the Dancing Truck Driver, an evangelist for truckers getting healthier by moving to the music. He’s created the Big John’s Truckin’ Fitness tour, where for every 10 pounds he loses, he visits a truckstop near his home in Cincinnati, blasts some grooving songs and invites fellow drivers to come by. Then he teaches them a few dance moves to get them started on a fun way to get more active.

Losing to win

Tipping the scales at over 460 pounds, Drury began his own weight loss journey in 2011, when he participated in a “biggest loser” competition, finishing second and going on to lose 100 pounds. He took up Zumba, a cardio workout set to Latin music, and liked it so much that he went on to earn certification as a dance fitness instructor himself.

“What comes with dance is music and there’s nothing better than listening to your favorite tunes. The time goes by so fast and you burn a lot of calories,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun to do. I’m just following my calling and my passion.”

Drury works about 60 hours a week so he knows firsthand that it is often difficult for drivers to find time for exercise. When he’s waiting around docks to pick up or deliver cargo, he takes a few laps around his truck. Every step counts for a driver who needs to be alert on the road.

“When you’re severely overweight, it’s not as safe being behind the wheel,” he says. “You feel tired and don’t have a lot of energy. Drivers have a lot of responsibility out on the road.”

A balancing act

While physical activity plays a significant role in getting healthy, losing weight requires a smart approach to diet too. Drury avoids processed foods and drinks plenty of water. His typical meal usually consists of grilled chicken and fresh fruit — with the occasional
indulgence, like a freshly baked cookie
or a bowl of ice cream.

Once drivers have decided to get healthy, they may be tempted to start out full-speed ahead. Drury advises that fitness is a lifelong commitment.

“Some people go overboard in the first three months and then fall off their program,” he says. “Losing weight means that you’re disciplined and you are getting control of your life. You have to be goal-oriented and keep track of what you’re doing.”

Drury is open about his own struggles with weight and offers a message of support for drivers who may be embarrassed about their extra pounds. His YouTube channel keeps drivers updated on his progress and provides them a shot of encouragement.

“Sometimes it takes stepping out of your comfort zone and believing in yourself,” he says. “As a truck driver, I hope my story is something they can relate to. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”


A Healthy Pace

Certified fitness instructor Robert Jay Martin on Drury’s road to weight loss

Robert Jay Martin, a certified strength and conditioning specialist with HealthyTrucker.net, likes Drury’s sensible approach to weight loss, and that he found a way to exercise that he enjoys.

Martin understands that getting in shape can be a stop-and-start affair for a lot of drivers, just as it has been for Drury. To make physical activity on the road a habit, he recommends following a few simple guidelines.

Diversify your workouts

Why: If you stick with the same exercise routine, boredom can set in quickly.

“Everyone should try different exercises and mix up their routine. If you’re used to walking, pick up the pace a little and try some jumping jacks or light jogging as well. Cardio is important — like running or biking — but you need to do some strength training, too. Some of the best examples are squats, lunges and push-ups.”

Schedule time for exercise

Why: Without a plan, it’s too easy to skip an exercise session.

“Always have a bag packed with the things you’ll need — clothes, shoes, water bottle. If you’re not prepared, it’s easy to just let it go. Drivers have a tight schedule to fit in a workout. Bring workout DVDs along on the truck or use exercise bands for more energy and stronger muscles. Whether it’s dancing or some other activity, find something you enjoy.”

Tailor your diet

Why: You will have more energy if you eat right.

“Stay away from too much dairy and carbs. Eat more proteins, fruits and vegetables instead. A balanced diet provides energy and ensures a proper sleep cycle.”

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