FITNESS IS MORE THAN JUST ENDURANCE Fitness is probably one of the most important requirements for a leader. It is not just about endurance and strength, but rather more about overall wellness. When I think about it, I realize that I have never taken a sick day off over the past 20 years! At the level of a CEO, you have to work around a really hectic schedule, one that involves a great deal of travel. I travel close to 15 days a month. Hectic travel routines, back-to-back meetings and late client dinners require that you remain at the top of your game throughout the day. If you are not physically fit, then you are not at the top of your game mentally, and that’s never good for your business.
MY FITNESS ROUTINE There are two components of fitness for me – cardio and weight training. As you grow older, the only way you can add more to your body is by adding muscle - and you can only do that through weight training. From a cardio perspective, the one thing I pursue diligently is table tennis. A regular game of table tennis doesn’t quite allow your heart rate to reach the 130-140 mark where you start burning fat, so I do something called multi-ball training where the trainer throws about 200 balls at me and I have to hit them quickly. For me, my sport also is a form of meditation. When I am playing, I am not thinking of anything else at work or at home. My focus is only on the game. This helps me stay mentally on top of my game at work as well, subsequently leading to a more productive day. Every morning, I wake up around 5:30 and spend my first half hour meditating or planning my day. After that, I work out for about an hour with my trainer in the gym. By 8 am, I head to my TT academy called Spin Art in Dadar, where I play for about 1.5 hours. I try to follow this routine at least 12 out of the 15 days that I am in Mumbai. Of the 15 days that I am travelling, I work out at the gym for about 11 days.
A TABLE TENNIS ROCKSTAR At the age of 6, my family tried to get me to learn to play the harmonium. At the same time, I had also begun playing table tennis. After about four months of learning both, I decided table tennis was way more fun! Schooling in Mussoorie, I got better at my game and was winning in all the categories by the age of 12. I played at the state level, and often had to take my friends along to help me cart home all the trophies and shields I had won. It also helps that in Mussoorie, sports gets a lot more respect than academics.
So I felt like a rockstar in my schooling years. Everything changed when I came back to Mumbai. I stopped playing for quite a while because once you reach adulthood, you have this eternal job called ‘getting settled.’ It was only about seven years ago that I decided that I would get back to table tennis, and so I started my own academy with the vision that I would enable India to win at least one Olympic medal in table tennis.
Today, I also participate in various tournaments and I find that very rewarding.
A HEALTHY FOODIE I am not too particular about my diet, but there are certain things that I follow. I have reduced processed sugar and dairy products in my diet to a great extent. I avoid deep fried food as well. Whenever I have a choice between carbohydrates or proteins, I try to eat more proteins. Every 2-3 hours, I try to have something like a handful of nuts, fruit or buttermilk.
When I am travelling, I eat a lot of salads, grilled chicken and fish. However, I am a foodie at heart and food gives me joy. Single malts give me joy. I enjoy an exceptional dessert every now and then. Baskin-Robbins’ Bavarian Chocolate ice-cream is my favourite! So I am very clear that if I am going to eat something calorie-rich, it has to be exceptionally good. I guess that’s why they say that people who enjoy life rarely have a flat stomach!