Brisbane-based linehaul driver Ian Houghton is the first to admit that he’s had his fair share of mental health issues over the years.
He didn’t get off to the greatest start in life as a child, then things spiralled down from there as his addictive personality sought solace and an escape in substance abuse.
But becoming a father for the first time nine years ago finally gave Houghton the wake-up call he needed.
“I knew I couldn’t be a good role model for her with that sort of thing in my life, and that was my substitute, training,” said Houghton, who drives overnight from Brisbane to Hervey Bay for MJ Mahon Transport.
“I have an addictive personality, and now I’m addicted to the gym.”
With support from partner Jessica Vaka, and encouraged by the difference fitness has made in his life, Houghton is now sharing those lessons with his fellow drivers on his Facebook blog Fullnoisefitness.
Launched in June last year, Houghton regularly posts video clips of his gym workouts and quick-fire, truckie-friendly routines anyone can do in their 15-minute breaks on the road.
“A lot of people bag out on truck drivers for being fat and lazy, so I thought, why not try and motivate a few people and show them different ways we can stay fit and healthy on the road, and it’s good for fatigue management and mental health,” said Houghton, 36.
Houghton says the tried-and-true, old-school techniques like lunges, rope-skipping, burpees, push-ups, sit-ups and running the length of his B-double has made the world of difference to his own energy levels and sleeping patterns.
“Even on a day run, if you’re feeling weary, get on the skipping rope, run the truck a few times, it gets the blood pumping and off you go. You’re alert again.”
Houghton knows that the hardest step for most will be taking the first one. He also cautions against trying to do too much too soon, or you’ll end up too sore to try again.
“I know lot of people are set in their ways but if I can help a few it’ll be worth it. People need to see consistency and I enjoy it, and it gives me something to do as well.”
Before any driver starts on a new fitness regime, however, Houghton says his best advice is take a look at the fuel you’re putting in your body.
“One of the first things that’ll make you feel better is not eating that Maccas and KFC; that’s what weighs you down and makes you feel like shit, and that’s what can create fatigue, rather than avoid it.
“Starting to eat better and working your way into exercises is going to be the best way to go about it – 90 per cent of it is diet.”
Houghton plans to do more posts about diet on Fullnoisefitness, where he’s also doing his bit to help his fellow drivers with their mental health.
Knowing what a difference a good listener can make when you’re out on the road alone, Houghton wants any driver to call him to chat. Just DM him through Fullnoisefitness and Houghton says he’ll get in touch from there.
“Whether it’s to help with your fatigue management, or mental health, or maybe you just want to have a chat to get something off your chest, I’ll try to be there for you,” Houghton promises in a recent Facebook clip.
“I’ve never been in a better place so I’d like to share the love and do my little bit.”
First steps to fitness at work
We asked Houghton to devise a routine that might help truckies get back on the road to a healthier lifestyle.
Here’s what he suggests:
- The first thing I do is stretch. Something for the legs, arms and back. I will do a segment on fullnoisefitness on stretching in more detail.
- Depending on your own fitness level, either walking, jogging or running the length of your tuck with simple exercises at each end e.g. alternating between sit-ups, which I find easier to put my feet behind my steer tyre.
- Push-ups again, depending on fitness level. If you can’t do them from your feet position, try it from your knees.
- Standing squats and star jumps are very easy and simple to do. Starting with 5 reps and working your way up to as many as you feel comfortable with is good.
- For the more experienced and fit I would suggest lunging the length of your truck and throwing burpees in as they are one of the harder movements that work your whole body.
- Again a quick stretch to cool off, catching your breath and a drink of water.
Get the blood pumping, get home safe.