Abhishek Ganguly, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, heads Puma India and has been in the business of sports for the last 15 years. He didn’t start on the fitness path early in life. Born in a small town, Bhagalpur, Bihar, where he spent the first 20 years of his life, physical activity was restricted and exposure to sports was limited to cricket. “There was hardly any fitness centre in town. The closest I got to fitness was our weekly physical education class in school," he says. Post-Bhagalpur, building a career took over and focusing on health and fitness was a secondary concern.

Ganguly, 40, has been conscious about leading a healthy and fit lifestyle for the last 10 years. “I started by just trying to live Puma’s brand essence. Over the years, both sports and fitness started growing on me. Today, it is a very important element of my life. In fact, we have a very strong culture of sports and fitness in the organization. I am not only aware and conscious of my personal fitness, but also play quite a few sports such as badminton, basketball and cricket," he says.

Fitness mantra

Ganguly’s fitness mantra is to be regular more than anything else. “When I am consistent, I am in the flow and in the zone," he says. While working out, he also watches his food habits and is extremely determined to consume nutritious meals. “I have seen that if I miss even three days of workout, I tend to lose steam and then the focus keeps dropping off." He believes that sports are not only great for physical fitness, but also good for mental engagement.

Workout regime

If he is not able to get to a pitch, a court or a fitness centre, he makes it a point to workout at home. The home regime for him is primarily a body weight workout, such as functional training. “I have realized over the years that getting accustomed to a home workout goes a long way in ensuring consistency and reduces the off-days from exercising," he says.

Healthy eating

Eating healthy is a matter of mental discipline: when the mind is under control, taste follows, believes Ganguly. Protein shake, eggs and nuts are his favourite, and he consumes these within an hour of his workout. “It’s called protein timing and I think, it’s a great habit. I have been told that training increases amino acid delivery and absorption to the muscles. Hence, the best time to consume protein is just after a workout," he says.

Travelling fit

He travels quite a lot and is often on the road 10 days in a month. Potentially, travel can throw fitness plans out of the window. “With the amount of time spent in actual travel and the days packed with meetings, it can get difficult to find time to exercise," he says. While travelling, he often misses his morning workouts. “I use the hotel fitness centre late in the evening. It has got pretty common for me to skip dinner after meetings, reach hotel and hit the gym. I end up using the gym at unearthly hours," he says.

If he is travelling to Europe for work, he often skips the gym and goes running instead. “Most of the European cities, where work takes me, have great running trails and the weather is fabulous for an early morning 10k run," he says.

With regards to diet during travel, he has a rule which he follows most of the times: no sugar, wheat, rice, diary, butter and cheese.

His fitness inspiration

Ganguly has had the opportunity to meet some of the best sports persons in the world of sports. However, if he had to choose one, it would be Virat Kohli whose fitness level he has seen from close quarters. “Virat is insanely focussed and his commitment is second to none. About a year and a half ago, I was in Mumbai and staying in the same hotel as Virat. India was playing a test match against England. On the fourth day of the test series, Virat had scored a double century and had played a long innings. Post the day’s play, I went to the hotel gym. Within an hour of the match ending, in walked Virat. I asked him why would he work-out after such a long innings. He said he would work-out because he had a long day’s play," says Ganguly.

Leaders and fitness

A leader practising a fit lifestyle can inspire the team. Being fit gets the best out of a person and holds one in the best mental frame of mind too, he says.

Finding Fitness is a series that looks at how CEOs work at keeping themselves fit at home and when on the road.

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