The Healthtender is Here
Addressing physical and mental wellness within the hospitality industry
Our industry isn’t always conducive to the best habits. We’ll run through double shifts with aching arches, promising ourselves we’ll get better shoes next paycheck. We’ll escape to the back and scarf down a handful of cold fries on our rush to the bathroom, ‘cause that’s the only break we’ll have time for on a Friday night.
Amie Ward—a.k.a. “The Healthtender”—gets it. Along with leading seminars at Tales of the Cocktail and the Toronto Cocktail Conference, Ward has made it her mission to provide those in the industry with the tools we need to mentally and physically thrive in this often-demanding career path.
A self-proclaimed jock with a B.S. and M.A. in kinesiology, the Maryland native found a full-time career as a bartender more exciting than the medical field, yet her background always shined through.
“I had become affectionately known as the nerdy person who would come around with their Tupperware full of food, going to the gym at two in the morning,” Ward recalls.
When her local industry chapter, the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild, started a monthly education series, Ward’s first talk centered on healthy snacking at work and alternatives to post-shift drinking. Though she felt like an anomaly, a team from Lush Life who had hosted the Bar Institute, reached out with enthusiasm.
“They were like, ‘Hey, this is something you need to share with a larger group,” Ward says. “There [are] a lot of people who need to hear this.”
For the next two years, Ward toured the country, rotating through different health-related discussions geared toward bartenders. She soon began to see commonalities. Whether it was repetitive motion injuries leading to tendonitis, or lower back pain from poor posture, Ward’s professional understanding of how the body works gave greater insight as to why her peers were experiencing these injuries.
“People were predominantly doing the same things,” she explained, “always using their dominant hand, picking up bottles in a way that was more stressful to their body. … and wearing generally crap shoes or not having inserts.
“I wasn’t able to see how to connect the two populations,” she continues, “and now it just makes complete sense. People weren’t realizing their [bodies were] actually working the same way as an athlete’s did, and they were absolutely not treating [them] as such either.”
Motivated by the overwhelmingly positive reception from the tours, Ward, also an ACE certified health coach, started her business in 2017 as The Healthtender, working with group and individual clients to curate the best programs for their needs, from stretching, taping, nutrition, mental health and more.
Ward has her sights on building a team that can reach more communities, including brand ambassadors, who have their own set of challenges from so much time on the road. Her Instagram followers participate eagerly in monthly brand-sponsored workout challenges that generally raise money and awareness for a specific cause.
“You gotta love yourself and invest in yourself,” Ward says. “This is our career, so let’s treat our bodies and our minds like we want to do it for the long haul.”