This is the story of Norm and Harry, two highly successful professionals in their 50s.
Both work for top firms in the City.
Both are at the top of their careers.
Both have raised great families, have money in the bank, and are financially set for their retirement a few years off.
From the outside, their lives look equally well set.
But while Harry sees his 50s and beyond as one of the best times of his life, and is looking forward to retirement with optimism and enthusiasm for his kids’ weddings, his grandchildren’s’ rugby matches, the travel and adventures he and his wife have been planning for years….
Norm feels bombarded with reminders that he’s getting older and slowing down. His brother recently had a heart attack, he sees his colleagues and peers getting greyer, people offer up their seat on the train. He secretly fears he won’t be there to see his daughter’s wedding.
Or his grandkids’ graduations.
Harry and Norm are leading two very similar and successful lives, with one main difference:
Harry has been investing in his health along the way. He knows age is really about how old you feel…. And he feels great.
Meanwhile, Norm has been working himself to the bone, putting his own health last – from what he eats to how little he moves throughout the day. And while it hasn’t yet slowed him down in this career that he can tell… it’s taking its toll on his personal life in a big way.
Harry and Norm are based on real people I meet as Director of one of the top fitness studios in Moorgate.
As you hear their stories – who do you relate to more?
If you’re being honest with yourself, how do you feel?
Not “How are you” (all right)… but how do you feel?
But what do any of these things have to do with your investments?
As a former City professional myself, I know many of those feelings all too well. Especially the “who is that out of shape man looking back at me in the mirror?!”
I was becoming a “Norm,” and it was hard to imagine I’d ever been fit enough to be a paratrooper in the IV Battalion Parachute Regiment. That life seemed very far behind me.
Most nights after a gruelling day in the office, I’d decide “it’s too late to cook dinner” and order a takeaway after work. Combined with 10-12 hours a day at my desk, the combination was wreaking havoc on my waistline, my self-esteem, and my overall health.
At our studio, the clientele is essentially made up of two groups of people:
• The Harrys, who are determined to excel at both their careers AND their health. So they found a studio that made it possible to fit their fitness goals into their real lives (instead of “living in the gym”)
• And those whose health has taken a dive, leaving them no choice but to address it. This group believed they didn’t have time to prioritize their health… Until they had to.
Unlike the Norms from my story earlier, this second group of clients at our studio have decided to take action.
They may be playing catchup on their health investments…. But much like our finances – late is always better than never.
The amazing thing is, most of us know that our retirement funds and our investments are our insurance towards our futures.
Yet few people view their health the same way.
To that, I can’t help but wonder will you be able to enjoy that retirement, if you haven’t been investing in your body as well?
Many of our clients come to us with serious physical and/or health concerns:
• Heart conditions and high blood pressure…
• Joint problems…
• Back pain and injuries …
• Or old, chronic injuries that have slowed them down for years…
All things that could have been resolved years before, if they had known they didn’t have to choose between their physical health and their career goals.
“When You’re Young, Fitness is Sport. As You Age, It’s Necessity.”
The World’s Leaders And Top CEOs Put Their Health On The Top Of Their To-Do List
Choosing work or health isn’t about picking one over the other. The world’s top CEOs and leaders, from Barack Obama to T. Boone Pickens use their physical health to drive their successes and support their demanding schedules.
They know their physical health is one of their best investments, even in the short term, so they can keep up and perform their best through gruelling meeting schedules, constant travel, cooking up new innovations, making key decisions on national security, or leading some of the most innovative brands in the world.
In The 4-Hour Body, author Tim Ferriss shared a story about travelling to Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson. Someone in the group asked the Virgin Group founder how they could be more productive.
He answered with two words: “Work out,” reporting that exercise gave him an extra four hours of productivity a day.
Branson, who is nearing 70 years old, competes in triathlons, rock climbs, and puts movement into his mornings every day.
And he’s just one of many leaders who count prioritizing fitness among their top productivity hacks:
• Best-selling author & marketing mogul, Gary Vaynerchuk, famously hired a personal trainer after the realization hit him: “If I don’t fix this, I’m going to die. I’m going to lose.” His routine? Short daily workouts focused on building strength.
• Former US President Barack Obama woke up early 6 days a week and trained 45 minutes at a time. He mixed cardio with strength training and credited his morning workouts as the spark that set his day on the right path.
• Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously begins each day with a gym session that he credits, not only with his physical health, but with minimizing his stress, so he feels at ease most of the day, even with his demanding schedule.
• 90-year-old American business magnate and financier, T. Boone Pickens, starts each day with a workout that focuses on strength training.
Pickens even authored a LinkedIn post titled, “When You’re Young, Fitness is Sport. As You Age, It’s Necessity.”
And that’s ultimately the point of this post.
Your Strength is the Best Investment You Haven’t Made (Yet)
What all of those leaders have in common is a heavy focus on their strength.
Strength is your hedge for the future – it’s the bullion bar of fitness, because it’s your muscles, ligaments, and tendons that hold your body together, protect your joints, and maintain your body’s structural integrity. (That’s why one of the early recommendations for back pain is typically to strengthen your back and core muscles).
Because of the role they play in your body’s structural health, if your muscles have enough strength in their reserves, you can just about guarantee yourself a certain baseline of physical health until you pop your clogs. If you don’t, your body is likely to be struggling long before that.
Most people focus on cardio as the key to losing weight and getting fit, but in doing that, they neglect muscle tone and strength. Whilst focusing on cardiovascular fitness as the holy grail of fitness, you are missing how to actually improve your life on a practical level.
• Lugging shopping bags
• Working in the garden
• Hefting up grandkids (or simply keeping up with them)
These things all require strength.
The thing with strength is that similar to your financial investments, the longer you wait, the harder it is to catch up.
That’s why we say when speaking to fitness trends like Bootcamps and Crossfit, it’s not how hard you pushed in that one workout…. It’s what you can sustainably do, month in and month out, that ultimately makes the greatest impact as a long term investment in your health.
That goes for how much your body can withstand and how much time you can sustainably dedicate within an already demanding schedule.
You Don’t Need 4 Hours A Day To Be Healthy
Speaking of timing – while most of the moguls I mentioned earlier find time to workout 5 – 6 days per week, the truth is that with a strength-based fitness program, that’s optional.
You only need a couple of 50-minute sessions per week to get (and maintain) results – no matter how many milestones you surpass.
Contrast that to cardio-based fitness, where the only way to continue progressing is to keep extending the length or distance of the workout. It becomes a time-suck very quickly, without delivering the structural strength benefits of proper weight training.
A great example: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg works out just three times a week (what most of our clients do, even at 50+), to start his day on the right foot.
It’s enough to keep his mind and body performing their best, so they can carry him through the week.
At 34 years old, Zuckerberg is “keeping his tub full” now, as an investment in his future, and no matter your age – just like your investments – it’s never too late to start.
If the busiest men in the world can find the time… Most of us can find 45 minutes a couple of days a week.
Sal Kassam is the co-founder and Managing Director at Salecca, a Moorgate fitness studio that helps the City’s busiest professionals restore their bodies, regain their fitness and manage the stress levels of a demanding career – even if they’re working through injuries, limitations, or other health issues – in just a couple of sessions a week.
For many of Salecca’s clients, this results in the ability to eliminate medications linked to stress and the physical effects of sedentary work life, as well as reducing back pain, fatigue, and other common complaints.
Salecca is known for taking a holistic perspective that focuses on building strength and utilising personalised physio plans alongside a deep understanding of the human body and the psychology necessary for success.
Wondering if one of their programs might be right for you?