physical fitness and architecture


Is it possible to pursue architecture as a career and yet remain physically fit and relatively healthy? Or is degenerating into a worn-out husk of a human being part of the job?

Aug 13, 08 6:43 pm

You mean a fit mind and quick wit isn't enough? We have to have six-pack abs, too?

Aug 13, 08 6:58 pm

look @ JPR...

Aug 13, 08 6:59 pm

work construction...

Aug 13, 08 7:43 pm

hey, i manage to squeeze in a 2-3 workout sessions a week. the key is to find a routine that's quick (no more than 30 minutes) and you have to make it a priority (iow - treat it the same as any other commitment and schedule around it).

i've seen too many youngish architects (late 40's, early 50's) who are so badly out of shape that i'm wondering how they manage the stress levels they must be under....

Aug 13, 08 8:05 pm

I have a strong routine that I stick to regardless of client requests and work load, but most importantly find a time that works around work and family so that it fits realistically with one's own schedule. Key for me is that its not walking the dog or some other lame effort but a dedicated workout. I used to rely on friends to meet up with but I just found it easy to go when I had the window of time.

For me its after the kids are off to school and I head out for a Mt. Ride or a X-Country ski ( it helps that the trails are about 100 yards from the house / office ) but at the end of the day I'm no Olympic athlete but proud enough to stay ahead of my peers in the local races / rides etc. Its also important for me to focus on a couple races a year to stay motivated and keep up the intensity. Once the bike season ends there's always a lag before skiing but I've found that participating in the community races can be as intense as you want to make them.

Lately the fun has come back into them when I'm not as focused competitively which makes for a much more enjoyable effort. Bottom line, I race in my own mental category of three kids, a dog and a desk job and nobody ever beats me in that classification

Aug 13, 08 8:36 pm

sex, dancing, and pushups

Aug 13, 08 8:37 pm

I worked at a boutique architecture firm in NYC for two years and now I am a MArch student at the GSD. I have maintained a very consistent workout routine since high school. Typically, I run 6-7 times per week (ran XC and track in college). I think working out keeps you sane. Finding a routine helps you be more efficient at work and in school. In addition, working out also clears your head and keeps you healthy. I never understood the the unhealthy habits of many architects (specifically, the fatty foods, cigarettes, and not working out). You will end up paying for it in the end.

Aug 13, 08 10:00 pm

Every single person in my firm is highly physically fit and almost everyone of us works out routinely (the rest bike significantly as main form of transport). In fact, almost every architect I know works out routinely and maintains fitness as a priority.

Actually just the other day I was reflecting on how fit and healthy-living we architects are as a group, so your post completely surprises me. I rarely ever see overweight / significantly out of shape people in a group of architects.

Aug 13, 08 10:08 pm
vado retro

well you ain't seen my office...

Aug 13, 08 10:52 pm

prolly depends on where you live, I guess.

Aug 13, 08 11:02 pm

Find an exercise you enjoy and make it a habit. Swimming does it for me.

Aug 13, 08 11:38 pm

Going somewhere for swimming takes quite a lot of time, aspecially together with changing and showers, it would be nice to be exercising by just walking around city or using buildings normally..


walk to work

Aug 14, 08 1:22 am

stand at your desk instead of sitting

Aug 14, 08 1:45 am

if stress doesn't keep you thin, try self-abuse.

Aug 14, 08 9:55 am

mantaray - "In fact, almost every architect I know works out routinely and maintains fitness as a priority."

reverse pretty much everything you just said and you'll have my perspective.

Aug 14, 08 10:22 am
le bossman

interestingly enough, j once read an essay by a student applying for admission to an m.arch program which focused on how the student liked to keep in shape.

Aug 14, 08 2:01 pm
le bossman

i hike/run every wednesday at lunch with my boss. we have a really steep trail which climbs between about 800-900 vert feet above town. thus far our record is 13:30 to the top. i've also done four marathons, two in grad school, and i had a part time job. there is no excuse to not be physically fit. let's face it, architecture really isn't all that hard.

Aug 14, 08 2:06 pm

yeah, you should work out for 45 minutes (of actual working out, not standing around the gym) 6 times a week.

if you dont do that
you will wither

Aug 14, 08 3:35 pm

My guess is Speer stuck to the Nazi health guidelines.

Aug 14, 08 3:59 pm

I'm gonna go ask that big fat guy in the corner office his secret... be right back and let ya know.

Aug 14, 08 4:05 pm

Yeah OK that did NOT go well... that guy said his condition is "glandular"...???

Aug 14, 08 4:09 pm

dance party, bike ride, don't stress too much if you can help it, eat vegetable.

Aug 14, 08 4:58 pm
Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke

I run 15-20 miles a week ... I also trained for a marathon while I was a practicing attorney. So, yeah, it's possible.

Aug 14, 08 6:31 pm

it all depends on priorities and the location you live at. Also it depends on amount of abuse you are willing to accept. Since the profession is fcuk designed in many respects, so, professionals are reflective of that reality. But it definately is not the norm or it should be. All European architects I know are all fit or in good shape. That does not mean they all are, but compared to the collegues to the other side of atlantic the difference is obvious. Well, looking in the check book & balances I am sure ther eis difference there too. Ahm, that does not mean there are no healty offices or architects in CA, Arizona and Colorado. But I think big city architetural content is pretty unheathy that's for sure.

Aug 14, 08 6:52 pm

A study just found that 4 one hour workout sessions a week regenerates brain cells and improves concentration and memory.

I ride a bike everywhere and do muay thai in the mornings 4 times a week. Want to start yoga because my flexibility is kind of freaking me out.

I like getting it done in the mornings after work I am lazy.

Aug 14, 08 7:21 pm

i work 10 hours + a day - i rarely work out anymore. I do walk 1.5 miles each way to work a day - a nice route too. That helps. I run once week sometimes 2 or 3. But the musscles are being neglected.
Guess im lazy. i could do it at 9pm but usualy I go home have a smoke and crash

Aug 14, 08 7:41 pm

i would like to give my contribution to this thread:

Aug 15, 08 12:54 am

Jog and work out regularly (weights, stair machine thing). Started Yoga. 24hr fitness is a life saver, far too hard to get inspired for weights in the garage!

Aug 15, 08 9:45 am
Living in Gin

I really need to join a gym again. I can use the fitness center at Columbia for a fairly nominal fee, or I can spend lots of money and join the Equinox club that's right by my office.

Problem is, every time I join a gym, I end up going there for a few weeks until I get bored with it. And although I'm not morbidly obese, I have a few extra pounds that I can't seem to shake. I seem to maintain a pretty consistent weight no matter how much or how little I eat and exercise.

Aug 15, 08 10:19 am

Try joining a gym with multiple locations and go to the ones that have a convenient location and switch it up each month. This can help with boredom and it is sometimes interesting to look at different walls and ceiling when you work out.


in the winter, i shovel snow. In the summer I weed my garden.

so far, sleep is the overlooked factor for architectural health in this discussion. Being a new parent doesn't improve the quality or quantity of ZZZs I'm getting these days.

Aug 15, 08 12:28 pm

Last semester, I got three other studio mates going to the gym with me during lunch breaks. Everyone enjoyed it and it's a great stress reliever.

I've managed to lose 8 lbs this summer, by cutting back on the crap food, and being consistent with my gym routine. I would still like to lose 10 more lbs, or at least cut my body fat percentage down (weight is not a good measure of fitness).

Aug 15, 08 1:23 pm

I jog about 6 miles every other day (or 3 times a week, whichever is less).

Its the best time for me to think though any ongoing design problems and clear the noggin...

Aug 15, 08 3:08 pm

For those who are tired/bored/irritated of the globo gyms

Try this:

There should be an affiliate in your area and the workouts are quick and simple yet brutal and effective. I highly recommend it if you are operating under time constraints like I am. However, I should warn you that crossfit is not easy and demands patience, practice, and perseverance but the results are tremendous and noticeable.

Aug 15, 08 3:21 pm
Ms Beary

I bicycle commute so do 2-4 trips of 15-20 mins daily. I ride my bike to meetings when I can too. I also do "epic excercise" once a month (an 8-12 hour hike for example.) I need to do more. But our office as a whole is pretty fit. Over half of us ride our bikes to work everyday.

Aug 15, 08 3:24 pm

I think a well-designed architect should go along with a well-designed building. Fitness is important.

Aug 16, 08 7:10 pm
SaltyOrange's possible...i was able to train pretty seriously for
the marathon for about 6 years after college...also ran collegiate x-c and track...(2:32 marathon pr) now just a fitness runner...married with form of fitness.

fitness is important...not just in architecture...running was(is?) my fix.

Aug 17, 08 10:53 pm

Bike commuting is crucial, I've been riding about five miles round trip at least three days a week. It's less the fitness, that's a side benefit, it's more about the increased energy and positive outlook the regular exercise gives. And the satisfaction in knowing you're spending less money on petroleum.

Aug 17, 08 11:15 pm

exercise is key. You think better.

Aug 18, 08 8:42 pm

And swim on your lunch break. It's tremendous.

Aug 20, 08 3:10 pm

bike and walk everywhere, i guess about 6 miles a day or so, but my body is used to that so doesn't count as exercise.

lately no time to do such things but when i only worked one fill time job i spent about 8 hours a week in a dojo and about the same in a gym. as i get closer to 40 i can see/feel my body losing muscle mass and it kinda freaks me out. next month back to the dojo!

Aug 20, 08 8:28 pm

i jog 6 miles and playing basketball together with my friends cause we believe that we jog and playing a games is more  exciting to us.

Oct 26, 11 3:16 am

Yes, all comes down to priorities.  I run short, fast runs several times a week and have been doing for decades.  Strategic workouts at the gym are also possible (just got our first snow this morning, so no more running!).


Personally, I need to exercise to keep sane.  Not just because of weight gain, but to keep my head clear.  I can't imagine how miserable one must feel begin stagnant for more than a few days!

I am also a super multi-tasker, I don't like to be idle or waste time.  So, I download podcasts, for everything from photography to Mad Money to arch interviews to my iPhone and watch/listen to them while at the gym.  I've honestly learned TONS while getting a good workout, making it feel all that much better.  

Oct 26, 11 10:05 am

GTL all day e'eryday baby

Oct 26, 11 11:44 am

I awake at 04am, run and work out for an hour, do 1000 crunches, then on weekends run 12 miles, followed by a 4 hour sketch + hike in San Francisco - 

Oct 26, 11 11:59 am

I would go running about 3 times a week with a friend. We both studied architecture so we were flexible and didn't mind running at 11 at night if need be. And about twice a month a group of classmates would have a pick-up game of basketball or soccer. Doing that with pushups and ab exercises kept me sane. If I didn't exercise for a while I would feel it and I definitely worked better in studio when I exercised.

Also, I think Jonathan Prince Ramus did rowing while at Harvard, and Rem Koolhaas swims every morning... 

Oct 26, 11 3:58 pm

I have plenty of sex! You guys should try it sometime.

Oct 26, 11 10:04 pm

Rasa certainly has a point, even if he's trying to be facetious. 

I'm surprised how many of you cite bike commuting as your main form of exercise—I commute 8 miles each way, and am convinced that my body no longer recognizes it as exercise. My heart rate isn't getting up high enough (my speed is dictated more by traffic lights than by my legs) and I've become too efficient overall. Hasn't anyone else experienced this?

Oct 26, 11 11:41 pm

@Erin Williams: I can say the same has happened to me with cycling. Your body gets more efficient over time. The other day I went on what felt like a snail's pace of a ride with a friend just getting into cycling. While his heart rate was at 80-85% of his max, mine was a comfortable 65% of max.

Oct 27, 11 12:29 am

One of my favorite runs would take me through UCSD, then along the west side of Louis  Kahn's Salk Institute, then over by Tod Williams + Billie Tsien's Neuro Science Institute, and I would finish up running by the Hyatt Regency designed by Michael Graves. Now I run in Golden Gate park past Herzog & de Meuron's De Young Museum and Renzo Piano's California Academy of Sciences.

Oct 27, 11 12:50 am

Yes of course, architecture can in fact enhance your body to by physically fit as it involves field job for it.



Chris Anderson

Aug 15, 13 10:26 am

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