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Workout Like a Professional (a Professional Engineer….)

04.07.21 by Krista Looney
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The Quarantine-15 struggle is real.

Summer’s coming up, and everyone is trying to shed some unwanted pounds and fit into their bathing suit after a rough winter that’s been compounded by months of Covid quarantine. Plus, you might still be suspect of gyms, burnt out on running, or just plain bored with repetitive home workouts.

That’s why, in an effort to give you some new motivation, Wallace Engineering has put together a series of fresh workouts that you’ve likely never experienced! These workouts are designed to kick your butt and have you train like a professional.

A professional engineer or design consultant, that is….

I know what you’re thinking:

“Uh, workouts from engineers? Don’t you guys just sit at desks all day?”

There are actually quite a few services in the engineering consulting industry where sitting at a desk is a rarity – or at least where there’s ample opportunity to get out in the field and stretch some muscles you haven’t used in a while.

We’ve created five unique workouts that will get you in shape for the summer, while giving you a taste of what it’s like to be a Forensic Engineer, Roof Consultant, or Surveyor!

Forensic Engineer Drop Ceiling Workout
Developing repairs or modifications for existing buildings is a big part of Wallace’s business. Before we can create repair specs or remodel drawings, we have to understand the existing structure. Sometimes we’ll get lucky and be able to dig up the existing drawings that identify all the structural members hidden by gypsum, ceiling tiles, and other aesthetic finishes. Other times, we have to create our own as-built drawings based on information acquired from an investigative scope trip.

Often, this involves dragging around a ladder, popping ceiling tiles, and poking your head into the unfinished spaces above ceiling grids to catch a glimpse of the structural members. Then, you still have to work around the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) ducts, conduits, and pipes in order to find and measure your structural members and get the best photos you can. Get ready to work your core!

  • Carry an 8 ft A-frame ladder 50 yards
  • Set up the ladder, climb to the safest, highest step
  • Holding a 2-3lb weight, stretch your arm out as far as possible (while maintaining three points of contact on the ladder!) and hold for 5-10 seconds
  • Repeat weighted stretch 4 more times in various awkward positions (like you are trying to take photos or measurements of structural members)
  • Climb down and fold up the ladder
  • Repeat 15 times – every fifth time have a spotting partner bump the ladder to make sure you are engaging your core
  • *Bonus* – Wear a 10lb backpack as you carry your ladder from location to location
  • **Double Bonus** – Try to keep your ladder movements to a 6-ft confined aisle spacing

Forensic Engineer Obstacle Workout
Sometimes, crawling on top of mezzanine lids or walk-in cooler structures or in attic crawl spaces is your best bet at getting a closer look at the roof joists, deck, and connections. On top of one of these structures or in a crawl space, you might only have a few feet of vertical clearance and will also have to dodge joists and climb around MEP obstructions. Test your agility and set your quads on fire with this obstacle workout!

  • Find a good obstacle course (a playground, your attic or basement storage, a crawl space, etc.)
  • Bend down into a crouched position (like you’re in a really low space)
  • Traverse the entire obstacle course in the crouched position
  • One round trip is probably enough for this one….
  • *Bonus* – Complete this exercise in the dark or semi-dark while using a headlamp
  • **Double Bonus** – Add 5 second bursts of furious arm waving for spider web attacks

Roof Consultant New Roof Inspection Workout
At Wallace, our Registered Roof Observers (RROs) and Registered Roof Consultant (RRC) perform a lot of inspections of new roofs for big box stores and warehouses. These new roofs typically consist of 8 ft or 10 ft wide sheets of TPO or PVC membrane that are rolled out and heat welded together. Each of these seams need to be defect-free in order for the roof to be watertight and durable.

These facilities generally range from 40,000 sf to 200,000 sf (with some even pushing 1,000,000 sf!), and if you’re methodically walking the perimeter and seams looking for damage or defects and then inspecting skylights or roof top units, you can easily hit 8,000-10,000 or more steps during an inspection. Not only are you getting your steps in, but you’re constantly maneuvering from squatting to standing as you mark damage, such as open seams or punctures.

  • Walk 100 paces
  • Do a full squat, holding for 10-20 seconds (like you’re inspecting a potential defect or marking damage on the roof)
  • Repeat 80 times
  • *Bonus* – Complete this workout in 90° F heat at 70% relative humidity

Roof Consultant Ladder Scaling Workout
Roof consultants spend a lot of time…well, on roofs. And getting on top of roofs usually requires scaling some ladders. Whether it’s an extension ladder at the back of a building or an interior ladder up to a roof hatch, climbing a ladder will test your agility and get your heart pumping. Plus, inevitably, you’re going to wind up forgetting something and making multiple trips up and down. Gravity is not going to be your friend on this workout!

  • Scale a 20 ft extension ladder
  • Think of something you could conceivably forget when performing a roof inspection (sunglasses, rain jacket, seam probing tool, etc)
  • Climb down, pausing half-way for 5 seconds to verify the forgotten item is not in a pocket
  • Repeat 10 times

Surveyor Topographic Survey Workout
Surveyors are routinely out in the field, traversing a variety of terrains. They get the best workouts in undeveloped areas with lots of hills, ditches, creeks, shrubs and tall grass. In order to measure the elevations and locations of points for a topographic survey of a site, they have to haul a laser level, electronic total station (ETS), or GPS equipment out to their site and then set up and relocate the equipment multiple times, as required to survey the whole site. This workout switches things up with a strategic, outdoorsy hike combined with weighted carries.

  • Find a hilly, undeveloped site (make sure you’ve got long pants, boots, and tick repellant!)
  • Carry one 15 lb weight in each hand onto your site (to mimic an ETS, tripod, and other miscellaneous equipment) and set them at a point that has good lines of sight
  • Keeping your weights in sight, walk to various notable points, such as changes in grade, high and low points, or notable natural or manmade features
  • Return to your weights, pick them up, and relocate them
  • Repeat as many times as necessary to cover the entire site
  • *Bonus* – Complete this workout in 32° F with 20 mph winds

Disclaimer: While we feel these are fairly accurate descriptions of the types of professional field work Wallace Engineering performs and would certainly provide a decent workout for the average individual, we at Wallace Engineering do not recommend that you actually complete any of these “workouts”. We wish you the best on your journey to health; however, these exercises are all tongue-in-cheek and intended only to provide an idea of different types of physical work that engineers, roof consultants and surveyors do in the field….Happy April Fools!

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Krista Looney

Structural Engineer

Ms. Looney has over eight years of experience in the field of structural engineering. Krista has performed structural assessments, inspections and roof evaluations on structures across the United States. She has also performed rapid assessments of and designed repairs for structures damaged by high winds, earthquakes and other natural phenomena. She has been a licensed engineer since 2015.

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