Surrounded by food day in and day out, chefs face a tough challenge against packing on the pounds. If you’re looking to watch your own waistline in the wake of the new year, consider taking a look at how the city’s most food-centric professionals stay trim.

From jujitsu to hot yoga to CrossFit, seven active chefs from across the city share their workout secrets below.

Chef Nick Elmi, left, practices Muay Thai with Ryan Coin of Sicklerville, N.J., during a class at Beacon Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness in Cherry Hill, N.J., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Elmi, chef of Laurel, ITV, and Royal Boucherie, trains several times a week.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Chef Nick Elmi, left, practices Muay Thai with Ryan Coin of Sicklerville, N.J., during a class at Beacon Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness in Cherry Hill, N.J., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Elmi, chef of Laurel, ITV, and Royal Boucherie, trains several times a week.

Nick Elmi, 39, of Laurel, ITV, and Royal Boucherie

Weekly workout routine:

Six hours (across four or five days) at Beacon Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness in Cherry Hill, N.J. ($160/month) Favorite exercise: Muay Thai and jujitsu

Why I love it:

I like being in a team atmosphere. You end up pushing each other to go harder. And the sport is great for clearing your head — if you’re not 100% focused on what you’re supposed to be doing, you can get knocked out or choked out.

[Exercise is] my therapy. It helps me rid any pent-up angst and anxiety.

Motivation when I’m tired:

I struggled a lot in the first couple of years to wake up at 5:30 [a.m.] and get going, but I always know when I hit the mat, I’ll get energized. I just think about its power to recenter me.

Diet:

I quit drinking two years ago, and dropped almost 50 pounds, which is funny because I eat basically whatever I want. I had kids, and I wanted to wake up early and refocus my energy. Favorite indulgence: Anything gummy. Those little gummy watermelon wedges are pretty amazing.

Top health advice:

Prioritize a chunk of your downtime to be active. For such a long time, all I did was focus on being a chef and it wasn’t healthy for me mentally or physically. Personal time is important.

2020 goals:

I’d like to do a few more jujitsu competitions. Over the summer, I got a silver and a bronze in a NAGA tournament, which is this regional jujitsu tournament.

Kelsey Bush, 29, of Bloomsday Café demonstrates a kettlebell swing.
Grace Dickinson
Kelsey Bush, 29, of Bloomsday Café demonstrates a kettlebell swing.

Kelsey Bush, 29, of Bloomsday Café

Weekly workout routine:

Five hours across five days at KG Strong for weekly personal training sessions ($85 per session) and City Fitness ($60/month) Favorite exercise: Kettlebell strength training

Why I love it:

Kitchens are intense, and I like intense workouts. Kettlebell moves are full-body movements — like snatches, kettlebell swings, and deadlifts.

Working out is a way for me to debrief and eliminate work stress. It’s also important conditioning. A lot of chefs suffer from back injuries from lifting things wrong, and I don’t want to be one of them.

Playlist:

I’m on a ’90s remix kick right now with this two-hour DJ track that has Destiny’s Child and everything I listened to as a teenager.

Motivation when I’m tired:

I’m a big proponent of 20-minute naps. When I wake up, I know I can do it.

Diet:

I used to be really restrictive, but now I just listen to my body and take an “everything-in-moderation” approach. Favorite indulgence: Pizza; I’m really into Beddia right now.

2020 goals

Sleep more. And do a full pull-up — but that’s mainly for my trainer.

Christopher Kearse, chef of Forsythia, demonstrates his clean-and-snatch at City Fitness East Market in Center City. Kearse works out at the gym four times a week.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Christopher Kearse, chef of Forsythia, demonstrates his clean-and-snatch at City Fitness East Market in Center City. Kearse works out at the gym four times a week.

Christopher Kearse, 35, of Forsythia

Weekly workout routine:

Six hours across six days; two days of CrossFit and four days at the gym, at City Fitness ($80/month) and CrossFit 2St. ($150/month) Favorite exercise: CrossFit; favorite move is the snatch. It’s a whole-body powerlifting move that takes a lot of balance and strength.

Why I love it:

It’s an all-new workout every time, so it never gets stale. The culture at my gym is also very fun and positive.

Exercise is a big part of my self-care, which makes me a better person and a better boss. I don’t have family obligations, so my day is built around work and the gym.

Playlist:

Heavy rock like Metallica and AC/DC, or sometimes catchy new songs I’m hearing on the radio; just never country.

Diet:

I prep lunch and dinner for the week on Sunday mornings at the restaurant. I try to eat rice and bread in moderation, and fill my plate with half vegetables. Favorite indulgence: Cheeseburgers

Top health advice:

Find what works for you, and then stick to it. I spent so many years trying all of these hard-core diet and workout plans, but that never worked.

2020 goals:

I don’t have any set goals, but I’m always trying to reevaluate and look at what’s working and what’s not.

Chef Michael Loughlin, 37, of Scarpetta teaches weekly yoga classes at Philly Power Yoga. Hot yoga is his exercise of choice, which he practices for an hour daily.
Courtesy Michael Loughlin
Chef Michael Loughlin, 37, of Scarpetta teaches weekly yoga classes at Philly Power Yoga. Hot yoga is his exercise of choice, which he practices for an hour daily.

Michael Loughlin, 37, of Scarpetta

Weekly workout routine:

Seven hours across seven days at Hotbox Manayunk ($110 for a 10 class card) and Philly Power Yoga, which is free for me because I teach a class every Friday. Favorite exercise: Hot yoga

Why I love it:

I spend an enormous amount of time on my feet, so high-impact exercises degenerate my body. In hot yoga, the room is about 95 degrees and the humidity is around 75%, so I can burn fat and clear my mind without the impact. It’s also a quiet time for me.

It’d be hard to be happy at work without yoga. It teaches you that the true power in life is in your ability to change yourself, which gives you limitless opportunities.

Playlist:

James Brown’s “The Payback”, Drake’s “Nice For What”, Rihanna’s “Umbrella”

Diet:

I follow a macrobiotic diet — 65% of the food I eat is whole grains, like farro and brown rice, and legumes, like lentils and adzuki beans. Root, cruciferous, and fermented vegetables make up most of the remainder. I don’t eat meat or dairy, unless it’s fermented. Favorite indulgence: Westmalle Trappist Tripel beer

2020 goals

I want to look better in a bathing suit when I’m 38 than when I was 37 — so more sit-ups.

Chef Joseph Monnich runs during an early morning workout at the Blue Bell Park. Trail running is Monnich's favorite form of exercise.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Chef Joseph Monnich runs during an early morning workout at the Blue Bell Park. Trail running is Monnich's favorite form of exercise.

Joe Monnich, 37, of the Bercy, Al Pastor, and Stove & Tap

Weekly workout routine:

Around six hours across six days at Lifetime Fitness ($100/month) and Fearless Athletics ($150/month) Favorite exercise: Trail running; I hit the gym three or four days a week, and do CrossFit at Fearless maybe once a week at this point. I try to get out on the trail three days a week, and usually run for an hour.

Why I love it:

It’s cathartic. [With trail running], you’re in the woods with nothing around you.

And after exercising, you gain a sense of clarity, which is needed to keep up with the stress of restaurants. If I’m not doing something active, I’m not my best self.

Playlist:

Hip-hop, like Handsome Boy Modeling School and Kanye West, or upbeat alternative, like the Lumineers or Alabama Shakes

Motivation when I’m tired:

Thinking about what I ate the night before

Diet:

I try to stay away from gluten and sugar. Favorite indulgence: Ice cream

Top health advice:

If you take away alcohol, you’ll go down to your natural body weight a lot quicker.

2020 goals

My business partner is doing a 78-mile trail run, and I’ll be his pacer for the last 25 miles. I’m planning to go alcohol-free for the first three months of the New Year, until the race.

Yehuda Sichel (center) does jiu jitsu drills with Zachary Taylor (upside down) at Balance Studios in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Sichel is the Executive Chef and Partner of Abe Fisher.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Yehuda Sichel (center) does jiu jitsu drills with Zachary Taylor (upside down) at Balance Studios in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Sichel is the Executive Chef and Partner of Abe Fisher.

Yehuda Sichel, 33, of Abe Fisher

Weekly workout routine:

Six hours across six days at Balance Studios for ju jitsu ($180/month) and City Fitness ($90/month) for strength training. Favorite exercise: Jujitsu

Why I love it:

It’s excellent cardio and involves flexibility and also body weight work. It’s also a sport, so the time goes by really quickly.

I need to stay strong because my job can be physically demanding. But on a much deeper note, jujitsu is very humbling, which makes me a better boss and conscious of how to encourage people rather than discourage them. It also helps with problem-solving under pressure.

Playlist:

I listen to podcasts, like the Joe Rogan Experience, or music with electronic beats

Diet:

I’m always very conscious of what I put into my body — high-quality food and fortunately I’m surrounded by it. I try to eat a lot of protein. It sounds bougie, but I love king salmon. Favorite indulgence: Insomnia cookies

Top health advice:

Find an activity that feels fun to you, whether it’s jujitsu or soccer or rock climbing or yoga. It’ll feel less like working out.

2020 goals:

I just started amping up to a four-day-a-week strength training routine, and I’d like to stick to that.

Chef Jeff Michaud, of Osteria and Via Locusta, is a black belt in jiu jitsu. He practices at least four days per week and also instruct classes one to two days a week.
Courtesy Chris Petersen of Younger Brother Pictures
Chef Jeff Michaud, of Osteria and Via Locusta, is a black belt in jiu jitsu. He practices at least four days per week and also instruct classes one to two days a week.

Jeff Michaud, 42, of Osteria and Via Locusta

Weekly workout routine:

12-15 hours across four days at Precision in King of Prussia (free because I’m an instructor). Favorite exercise: Jujitsu — I’m a black belt and also instruct classes one to two days a week

Why I love it:

Jujitsu is a huge part of my life. It puts you in difficult positions, and if you can get out of a 250-pound man putting you in a choke hold, you can come out of anything in life. That’s helped me reduce my anxiety when solving any problem.

Playlist:

Old school hip-hop — Biggie, Gang Starr, Ice Cube

Diet:

I try not to eat after 9 p.m. during the week. Favorite indulgence: I’m a sweets guy. Gelato is definitely one of my vices.

2020 goals:

Never stop training; getting a black belt in jujitsu doesn’t mean you’re done — there’s so much to figure out.