An architect working long hours for over a dozen years, Sujit Nair, 40, didn’t realize till quite late just how inflexible, tense and prone to fatigue his lean physique was. Just a few repetitions of any exercise would take a toll on him. Principal architect and founder of the Sujit Nair Design Group in Bengaluru, Nair ended up with unhealthy habits—poor eating patterns and diet and a bad posture—that led to a debilitating spine injury. That’s when Nair turned to his current routine, a combination of body weight exercises, yoga, breathing and stretching—something he devised himself through experimentation and trial and error. “I have to spend long hours on clients’ construction sites as well in the office, hunched in front of a computer. Despite using the best chairs available and occasional visits to the gym, I injured my spine. In the gym my workouts used to be unsupervised, which is not a good idea at all," says Nair. “A year-and-a-half ago, I started to focus on breathing, building strength around the core and adding other exercises around this regimen as part of the recovery process." Since then he has been working out four-five times a week for 45-60 minutes in the mornings.

Master reset every morning

Nair works out at home and, at times, even in office. He has installed pull-up bars at both places and always carries a yoga mat and a change of clothes in his car. “I start with focusing on my breathing, move on to upper body stretches and then do lower back and hamstring stretches. Then come abdominal exercises (75-100 crunches), yoga postures (8-10 different asanas), planks, push-ups and chin-ups. On some days, I mix this up with an in-place cardio routine (such as boxer bounces, on-spot running, jumping jacks, etc.) and TheraBand exercises," says Nair, adding that he prefers to work out alone. “I need that time to focus on the niggles that set in from time to time and fix them. The quietness is important to regain my composure each morning."

Difficult, not impossible

To try and slip in a workout amid a busy schedule is, admittedly, a struggle. But Nair has found a way around it. “I have managed to now break up my workouts into three-four sub-routines. On good days, I go through all of them. When work gets tough, I make sure I fit in at least one-two of the smaller exercise groups," he says. Even when on the move, he tries to work up some sweat before starting the email-drawings-meetings-site visit routine. “I exercise in the hotel room and use the floor to go through my exercises. If my schedule includes a lot of cardio activity, such as visiting difficult construction sites or going up and down building floors, I focus on a lower body routine and stretches."

Positivity means productivity

The biggest change that Nair has noticed in his attitude: “I have become a lot more positive since I started exercising."

“It’s important for me to stay motivated and think clearly as I work through the day. I am, now, a lot more focused, and get through long hours without any dip in my energy levels," he adds.

Nair’s improved fitness levels have also changed the way he communicates with his colleagues, peers and friends. “The posture, dressing, mental strength that one acquires as a result of working out leads to an individual exuding greater confidence and conviction in all interactions and situations, even difficult ones."

Now that he is more aware of the direct impact of fitness on output and quality of work, he feels most organizations aren’t doing much to promote fitness among their employees. “Most businesses in India do not lay enough emphasis on employee wellness. At architecture firms, almost no one has a policy in place to promote or support fitness among the workforce," he observes. Of late, however, Nair has noticed people talking about the new Virat Kohli-led fitness campaign and sees it as some sort of progress. “People have noticed the campaign, they are talking about it, that is a sign that people are becoming more aware of the importance of exercise and being fit. Hopefully, more and more people will adopt a healthy and active lifestyle and more campaigns would be introduced at the organizational level to encourage exercise," he says.

Leading Fit is a series on how professionals stay in top shape and encourage their workforce to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Shrenik Avlani is co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

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