Financial journalist Erik Schatzker shared a problem common with Men’s Fitness readers—trying to keep in shape while advancing his career and making time for family. In 2005, when Schatzker relocated to New York City with his wife and kids to take over Bloomberg’s financial services coverage, something had to give. “I’d get to work at 6 a.m., leave at 7 p.m., and work at home till midnight,” he says. “I didn’t know where the rest of my life fit.”
In 2007, Schatzker switched roles once again, moving over to Bloomberg Television (where he now co-hosts the show Market Makers, airing every day from 10–12 p.m. ET). His schedule improved, but lack of exercise and a reliance on takeout food had already taken their toll. “I was getting a little soft around the edges,” Schatzker says, dryly. “That’s when I started to realize that as you get older your metabolism slows down.” At age 37, he stood 5’9″, weighed 176, and could no longer ignore his growing belly.
Schatzker’s first step toward shedding weight was to clean up his diet. “I ate fewer starches and more vegetables,” he says.
Predictably, Schatzker leaned out a bit, but it wasn’t until his 40th birthday was on the horizon that he decided to take the next step. “That’s when I thought, ‘Can you really afford to be this lazy at this age?’ ” Schatzker began taking advantage of a gym in the basement of his apartment building, riding an exercise bike and performing makeshift strength workouts.
“I went down there when I had time,” he says. “It could have been a few times a week, or two weeks without going at all.”
If everyday health wasn’t enough to motivate Schatzker to be consistent, a serious health threat was. He had begun feeling pain in his left hip that made it difficult to even get out of bed. His doctor diagnosed it as impingement—the head of the femur bone in his leg was pinching the labrum, the connective tissue that lines the hip joint—and presented Schatzker with two options: Start strengthening the muscles around the hip, or undergo an invasive surgery.
The scare spurred Schatzker to action. He hired a trainer and began working out three days per week. “I made great progress, and it was the first time I saw what the right approach to getting fit was,” he says. “Programmatic, disciplined, regular.” Unfortunately for Schatzker, surgery proved unavoidable.
By the summer of 2012, the pain had worsened to the point where Schatzker had to give up all exercise. And after an MRI revealed significant cartilage damage, Schatzker elected to have the surgery that November to reshape the bone in his leg and repair the damage.
“Coming out of the surgery, my doctor said if you want to go back to the life you want to lead, you’ll have to rehab aggressively.”
Schatzker set a goal: He would ski— his favorite hobby— before the season ended. By January, Schatzker was going to a physical therapy clinic and working out in a gym. Though his job had him getting up at 4 a.m. to go to the studio and film his show, he was done by the afternoon and free to train.
“I skied in Vermont that Easter,” Schatzker says. “I went on the black diamond trails, and my wife said I was crazy. But I had put the work in, and I felt confident I could do it.” Remarkably, Schatzker’s hip felt better than ever.
Fit For Life
Today, at 44 years old and 157 pounds, Schatzker has finally made exercise a permanent part of his routine. He strength trains two or three times per week and swims or uses a rowing machine another two or three days.
“When you’re working long hours, your energy level and productivity really drop off,” he says. “But when you’re fit, you have more energy. You don’t have to be fanatical about [exercise],” he says. “Extremism is a bad thing. But I found that a little discipline goes a long way.”