Workouts help me remain active through gruelling days
Sumati Sahgal, Lenovo India’s general manager says working out gives her some ‘me time’
In a job where numbers can weigh one down frequently, Sumati Sahgal, Lenovo India’s general manager (consumer business), has found a way to stay on top. Running used to be Sahgal’s fitness activity of choice until an injury late last year forced her to focus more on strength training. She now uses her time in the gym doing weight training, yoga and running to prep herself for the challenges she faces in the corporate world. “I have been doing some sort of workout—either yoga or weights—for the past six years. I took up running three years ago and was enjoying it a lot till I suffered a foot injury. Now, I do a mix of weight training and High-Intensity Interval Training (Hiit) like the Tabata workouts, which I enjoy the most,” says the 37-year-old.
Critical ‘me’ time
Changing her fitness routine wasn’t easy, especially because Sahgal didn’t enjoy the new workouts to start with. Since she found it difficult to change gears and progress to the next level, she looked for excuses to skip them. “After a long day at work, it is easy to push the workout to the next day. But, I somehow stuck to it and now I hate missing my strength sessions. I especially look forward to these sessions because it is 60 minutes of ‘me’ time, disconnected from the world, work and worries,” says Sahgal, who works out five times a week. “Thrice a week I do weight training and twice I get in the Hiit workouts. Each session is about 60 minutes long. I prefer to work out in the evenings after finishing all my work and household chores, between 7.30 and 8.30pm.”
A fine balance
Sahgal says it requires a fair bit of an effort to make time for workouts. “To extract 60 minutes a day from your schedule at least four times a week for yourself is critical,” she says. “The workouts tremendously help me remain active and energized through gruelling days. That extra energy, more often than not, is the difference between a good shift at work and a mediocre one. Since I started working out, my attention span has also increased through the day,” she says.
Sahgal says she has also become more efficient. “I manage my time better to ensure I get my 60 minutes every day.” She is also grateful to have friends, colleagues and a trainer who help her stay inspired enough to work out regularly. “It is critical to have buddies who push you every day given that it is easy to skip a workout after a long or tough day in office. Also, my gym instructors follow up,” says Sahgal.
Sahgal has to travel frequently for work and, while on the road, she tries her best to not miss her workouts. “I always carry my training gear. I like running when I go to new locations. It’s a great way to explore the city and also have your ‘me’ time to reflect,” she says. Sahgal prefers her workouts in the evening as “it helps me get a good night’s sleep. That, in turn, recharges me for the following day.”
On a personal level, Sahgal says staying fit helps boosts her confidence at work. On the organizational level too, employee wellness is crucial to its success and efficient functioning. “It is important to have an energetic workforce. People who play a sport or work out regularly are more focused and goal oriented,” Sahgal says.
In recent years, Lenovo India has introduced a few initiatives to inspire its employees to actively make fitness a part of their regular lives. They have had a multi-location Stepathon challenge and now they have also engaged the services of a professional trainer to coach their in-house running group. Sahgal says these initiatives are a welcome step as everyone was able to notice the stress levels and long hours that every team has been putting in day after day. “When something like a fit lifestyle comes from top down, everyone notices and gets inspired to follow the examples set by team leaders. For some time now India Inc. has had the need to turn its attention to work-life balance for its employees. These fitness initiatives are a step in that direction,” she says. “The recent Virat Kohli-led fitness movement has actually made people who would have otherwise ignored any message related to exercise and fitness, to take notice too.”
Leading Fit is a series on how professionals stay in top shape and encourage their workforce to embrace a healthier lifestyle.