The family that plays together stays healthy together. Meet the Hatches.
- Written byDiane E.
Twenty years ago, far from their hometowns of Billings, Mon- tana, and Palos Verdes Estates, George “Rick” Hatch and Laura (Wertheimer) Hatch met at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Their mutual affinity for fitness and nutrition led to their introduction.
“We were introduced to one another in 1994 a pizza lunch social on the first day. A fellow medical student noticed that there were two health nuts on opposite sides of the atrium removing all of the cheese and sauce from their pizzas to avoid fat, which was before the low-carb diet craze. He introduced us, and we had a lot of things in common in addition to fitness and dietary habits. Four years later we were married,” recalls Rick with a smile.
Like both of their fathers, Laura and Rick had their sights set on a medical profession. Laura knew as a sophomore in high school that she wanted to be a doctor. After graduating from medical school and spending five additional years at Emory (a four-year residency and one year as a staff member in the orthopaedic department), Laura returned to California and joined her father’s Long Beach practice in 2003.
“My father is an orthopaedist who specializes in medical legal practice, and I do medical legal evaluations for people who have been injured on the job. The evaluation system was different in Georgia where I trained, so I had to learn a new system here. Then when California legislature later changed to adopt the same system that I had already learned at Emory, I was one of the very few who was able to adapt to it with ease—and my practice took off.”
Rick’s travels during his high school and college years accompanying his father on medical missions in underserved countries was his inspiration. “I realized how incredible and life-changing the profession can be for both the patients and the physicians,” he says.
Fellowships at Harvard Medical School and Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic followed his residency at Emory. He is now in private practice, the director of USC’s Orthopaedic Surgery Sports Medicine Fellowship and an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery. He is also one of the team physicians responsible for the medical care of the football team, basketball team and other athletics.
FITNESS & NUTRITION … A FAMILY AFFAIR
Fitness is at the core of the Hatch family’s life. “I call my fitness regime my ‘keystone habit.’ It keeps my mind fresh, and I feel more cognitively sharp after working out. It helps me be more efficient too. I work out in our home gym at 5:45 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tuesday is a crazy day. I run in the morning, work out with my trainer, Bob Ratliff, and do a spin class at Equinox at night. Fridays I run in the morning and then lift with Bob. Saturday and Sundays are variable, depending on the kids sporting events. I try to run one day and spin the other,” says Laura.
Rick’s fitness routine is as rigorous as Laura’s. “I work out typically five or more days a week, usually starting at 4:30 a.m. during weekdays and mid-morning on weekends. My training consists of standard free-weight training, CrossFit exercises, heavy boxing bag and cardio training. I enjoy mixed martial arts training the most, but it gets harder and harder to bounce back as I get older. I finally had to accept I am not in my 20s and 30s anymore, which means I need to still train very hard, but I also need to train smarter.”
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the saying goes. The Hatches’ young sons, Gavin and Bryce, are also into sports and outdoor activities.
“We wanted to expose them to a wide range of sports,” Rick says.
“Gavin’s main sport is tennis. He also enjoys surfing, wakeboarding, jiu-jitsu and snowboarding. Bryce is an all-sports fanatic. He enjoys club soccer, flag football, tennis, baseball, skiing, jiu-jitsu, surfing and wakeboarding. I am not so concerned about what specific sports they choose but rather that they find something that they really enjoy and are passionate about. Optimally Laura and I would like them to be involved in both a team and an individual sport as each has its unique benefits and drawbacks.”
Given their parenting responsibilities coupled with their demanding careers, one might expect the “I am too busy to work out” mantra to arise, as it does for many people juggling careers and family. Quite the contrary.
“Laura and I firmly believe that a person can always find time for things that are very important to them. Fitness is an integral and necessary part of our lives, and I personally do not feel good during the day if I have not worked out in the morning. The time of day may not be ideal and you may be really tired, but there is always time.”
Rick notes that you don’t always need a formal gym for a good workout. In fact, there are plenty of body weight exercises that will make you sweat and get your heart rate up. He says the best advice he has ever heard about training when you don’t want to is: “Show up no matter what. If you are not in the mood, here is what you do. First: Walk to your car and drive to the gym. Second: Figure out the rest later.”
As for their diets, Rick and Laura both believe that nutrition is as equally important as physically working out. They say alteration in diet has a larger and faster effect on general health than changing up your exercise program.
“I don’t believe you can have one without the other and be healthy,” says Rick. “Laura is a vegetarian. I occasionally eat red meat but otherwise just turkey, chicken, fish and a lot of vegetables. Our sons eat basically the same as me. But they are kids, so they also eat more kid foods—such as PBJs, hamburgers, quesadillas and pizza. We try to limit the sweets and fried foods but don’t outlaw foods. We just moderate the intake.”
LIVING THE LIFESTYLE
When the couple decided to leave Atlanta and move to Los Angeles in 2003, Laura did not want to live anywhere except the South Bay and had her heart set on Palos Verdes where she grew up. “After living here for 11 years now, I completely get it. Now that we have a family, Palos Verdes is also my #1 choice in the South Bay,” says Rick.
Rick and Laura both agree that Palos Verdes and a healthy lifestyle go hand-in-hand. “Great weather, great views, great trails and active friends make Palos Verdes very conducive to a healthy lifestyle and great quality of life. I love that you can be right outside of Los Angeles and still have so many beautiful, isolated horse trails to run on. The hills are challenging, but when I am running uphill I tell myself to just do it because I can, and it will keep me healthy longer,” says Laura.
According to Rick, Palos Verdes is one big playground for kids and adults. “The immediate access to the ocean, the trails, the hills and the parks makes it a destination for other people around the Los Angeles area—and we live here! When you spend a long time in Palos Verdes and the South
Bay in general, you tend to take it for granted. But whenever I return from a trip, I am quickly reminded of what a special place it is.”
HEART OF SUCCESS
After four years at medical school together and 16 years of marriage, balancing family, careers and a healthy lifestyle is key to the Hatches’ admirably successful life together. At the beginning of their relationship, medical careers and a commitment to fitness and health defined them. But when Gavin was born 11 years ago (11½, if you ask Gavin), balancing personal life and work became their top priority.
“We could no longer just make the phone call to say we loved each
other and that we looked forward to our mutual days off. We actually had to be physically present for a little man who had no idea or care about our careers and needed at least one of us at home,” shares Rick. “As with everything, you make adjustments, and if it is important you make time. Four years after we had Gavin, Bryce was born, and it just got busier. But again we adjusted.”
Beyond medical careers, the Hatches also carry on in their parents’ footsteps on a much more personal and deeper level. They take pride in striving to be great role models for their boys, instilling the same family closeness and work ethics in them that they were raised with.
“Our marriage is a true partnership. Laura and I have careers that we love and have worked very hard for, but more importantly we have kids that we love more than anything on earth. We need to be fully and completely involved in their lives. Therefore we have to coordinate as a team in order to fulfill all of the important commitments in our life.”