Alex King is one of the new generation. He’s young, driven, focused and determined to not only make a career in hospitality but to do it the right way and inspire his peers to do the same.
Bartending in London can be a whirlwind, to begin with, especially if you’re new to the city or new to the job itself. We all get thrown into this lifestyle of late nights, long hours, drinking and lack of sleep. As a young person entering this industry, it’s so easy to get caught up in the whole ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock ’n’ Roll’ life that comes along with tiring, booze-filled nights.
So, who am I? My name is Alex, I’m 22 and you’ll probably find me behind the bar at Callooh Callay making a beverage or two. The reason this jolly piece of writing came about is that I saw the problems early on, tackled them and now try to live a healthier lifestyle alongside a bartending career. My first 6 months in London were a rollercoaster of booze-filled nights, serious lack of sleep, no exercise and a constant loop of attempting desperately to sleep, only to find myself waking up an hour before work, having done nothing useful with my day. Is any of this sounding familiar?
First things first… Exercise. To quote Aaron Wall, General Manager at Callooh Callay and a dear friend of mine, “Exercise is whatever you class as a win in your eyes”. If it’s walking up the stairs at a tube station rather than getting the lift, going for a 15minute walk around your local park, or running 10 miles. Anything that makes you feel like you’ve worked that extra 10% harder should be seen as a win. The benefits of regular exercise on your physical and mental health are well documented and can be found in all sorts of resources.
As well as all the health benefits of exercise it’s also great for social interaction. You know those boxing and yoga sessions you keep saying you’ll do? They’ll be incomprehensibly beneficial, you’ll leave feeling like a new person (albeit a little sweaty), but you will also have met George, Linda and Susie whilst throwing punches their way or laughing a little as you do Downward Facing Dog and failing in the attempt. All I’m saying is trust me; whether it’s pulling yourself out of bed for a walk or heading to the gym, exercise will make you look and feel like a new person.
I’m not here to tell you to stop drinking, that would be incredibly hypocritical of me as I love a drink as much as the next person. One thing that sprung to mind about a year ago for me was this, “If you have a drink at work (or after work) every day and then drink on your days off, is that alcoholism?”
This is an important point. Do we need that beer after work? Do we need to go out on our days off to other bars? As bar workers, we find ourselves surrounded by alcohol on a daily basis. We welcome shots as a gesture of hospitality and friendship. But can we abstain from that shot of bourbon or tequila and substitute it for something of a lower ABV such as sherry or ‘maybe non-alcoholic’?
There are numerous Apps around now that can measure your alcohol intake by units and convert it into the likes of Calories. If you’re really looking to scare yourself then check them out, ‘Drink Aware’ being the one I use myself.
There’s a simple premise I try to live by and that is to set daily goals in order to feel like I’ve achieved something. This may sound incredibly cliché and you’re probably going to have a laugh at me now, however these little ‘daily wins’ I have to keep me motivated and push me to be a little healthier and happier.
For me these goals include:
- Awake and out of bed by 10 AM
- Eaten a healthy breakfast by 10:30 AM
- In the gym by 12 PM
- Cooked lunch with fresh ingredients by 1:45 PM
- Learned a new fact and had a read of a book before work (starting at 4)
It’s as simple as that. Just setting yourself a couple of daily goals means that you’re maintaining motivation and staying focused on a fairly simple set of tasks.
So, this isn’t me standing up in front of the choir to preach, point fingers and tell you how to live. This is just me, some lad from the north, wanting everyone to live a healthier, happier and more positive life.